Our beloved washing machine has officially thrown in the towel
(sorry, I had to).
This machine has appeared in countless Clean My Space videos and posts and in its final wash, where it made enough noises to scare a burglar away, we just knew it was no longer going to be a part of our family. So, to honour the fine service this washer has provided us over the years – AND because it’s one of our MOST requested topics – AND because it’s a perfect spring cleaning job I’m going to show you how to thoroughly clean your washer and dryer before we bid adieu to our non-functioning friend.
And you’ll have to trust me on the maintenance thing, which I know seems bizarre now knowing that my machine is broken beyond repair. But, the machine is about 15 years old now, and we were just waiting for something like this to happen (clearly, because we wanted a real reason to get a new washer and dryer). It was somewhat maintained, but the repairman just said the bearings were worn out and to my knowledge that’s not a maintenance issue (feel free to let me know otherwise).
OK back on track. Maintaining your washer and dryer is really important because they are expensive to repair and replace (don’t I know), pretty necessary for modern life, and proper maintenance keeps them going at peak performance.
It’s a somewhat big job, but I felt really good after doing it and inspired to maintain my new machines much better (now that I know how to do it) once they roll in the door. I would recommend watching the video also so that you can have good visuals on how to do each step.
How to Clean a Washing Machine
(Works for Top Load and Front Load Washers).
Cleaning your washing machine is actually pretty straight forward – and pretty necessary. In fact, consider doing this cleaning once a month if you are a heavy user and a couple times a year otherwise. Of course, maintaining it means it lasts longer and also you can rid it of moldy smells caused by stale soap build up and fabric softener. It also means you get a better quality wash.
Now, if you have a newer machine you might even have a self-cleaning cycle already..but even if you don’t, it’s not very difficult at all..
Cycle One – Baking Soda
With an empty washing machine, add in about two cups of baking soda directly into the washing machine – this is going to gently scrub the inside and combat those stale, moldy odors that are left behind via old soap and fabric softener deposits..run a large, long, hot water cycle and leave it be. If your machine has a self-clean cycle, use it.
Cycle Two – Vinegar
Next, we’ll add in 2 cups of plain white vinegar and 10 drops of essential oil like tea tree or lavender which help with mildew and mineral deposits and will also act as a mild disinfectant. Run another cycle through and set it to the longest, hottest and biggest setting you can find. Let ‘er rip! The vinegar will help break down any deposits and further remove moldy smells.
Once both cycles are complete, you can give a quick wipe down to the drum and agitator using a cotton cloth and vinegar. If you have any stains, try rubbing them with a paste of baking soda and water and a non-scratching sponge. That should remove just about everything.
Now, on front load washers, that rubber seal clings on to all kinds of bad stuff, so for this, dip a cotton cloth into plain white vinegar and 10 drops of tea tree oil or lavender oil and give it a good wipe down. You’ve got to get rid of all that mildew.
Clean Machine Exterior, Door, and Dispensing Trays
Next we’ll tackle the exterior parts of the machine including your detergent dispensers, all cracks and crevices, door frame and all exterior surfaces. Clean the inside and outside of the door with vinegar and water, and a cotton cloth. You might really need to scrub well! Use an all-purpose cleaner and pre-soak really dirty areas around the washer. Scrub grimy areas where necessary with a cleaning toothbrush (and baking soda, if needed) and wipe everything clean with a cotton cloth. If possible, you can soak your dispensing trays and then wipe clean. They can get really grotty and moldy.
Extra Care Tips
A few final points regarding your washing machine:
Always leave the door open when you are done with your washing – always. This lets the remaining moisture evaporate and avoids mold and mildew growth..so if smelly laundry is a problem, this will solve it.
Also, remove your clothes from the washing machine ASAP – same reason as my last point.
And try to avoid store bought fabric softeners if at all possible. They leave a residue not only on your clothes – but also in your washing machine, which as we now know causes odours. We have two easy homemade fabric softener alternatives available by clicking HERE.
Finally, use the correct amount of detergent, always. Too much detergent will cling to the walls of your machine and lead to odours and dull clothes. These detergents are designed to be used in small quantities.
How to Clean a Dryer
Cleaning the dryer is a little more difficult than cleaning the washing machine, however, it’s also fair to say it’s much more important to clean your dryer, because dirty dryers – can lead to fiery dryers. Lint is flammable stuff and if it touches a heating coil, well, you know what happens. You can do this every 6 – 12 months depending on usage. So brace yourself and get a screwdriver, we kinda have to take it apart.
- Start by unplugging our dryer and emptying your lint trap.
- You can also take the discharge hose out from the back of the dryer (the silver elephant trunk thing) and give it a good shake to remove any debris.
Now all dryers are created differently and I would recommend consulting your manufacturer’s instructions for the exact directives on this step.
- But essentially, you want to unscrew the back panel and pop it off. When you remove that, you’ll likely see a TON of lint on the base, in the canal leading to your discharge line and throughout the innards of your machine. Vacuum this up and use a brush attachment or a crevice tool to get into any difficult areas.
- Vacuum the lint trap itself and if you can remove part of the lint trap by unscrewing it (if possible) to get to the innards, do it, you’ll find a freakish amount of dust. Make sure you keep those screws separate – you don’t want to vacuum those up! Some people use a specialty vacuum part or a brush to do this, which is totally acceptable.
- Vacuum anything left behind in the drum too. Be warned, you might find a zoo full of dust bunnies down there.
- Once this is done, give it a quick wipedown using an all-purpose cleaner and a cotton cloth and put everything back together including panels, hoses and plug it back in.
You’ll notice your dryer will do much hotter and more effective cycles not to mention, your machine will be safer to use.
Congratulations – you just cleaned your washer AND your dryer..
Now Chad and I have some really exciting news for you all. After this fiasco with the old machine, we purchased our new washer and dryer pair and they are on their way. This has prompted us to fix up our laundry area so that we can finally create a laundry series for you guys talking about all, well all things laundry! We’ll keep you posted on the progress and this means we’re a step closer to actually getting these videos and posts done.