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. 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. To honor the fine service this washer has provided us over the years – AND because it’s one of our MOST requested topics – I’m going to show you how to thoroughly clean your washer and dryer.
Maintaining your washer and dryer is really important. They are expensive to repair and replace and pretty necessary for modern life. Also, proper maintenance keeps them going at peak performance. 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 straightforward and necessary. Therefore, consider doing this cleaning once a month if you are a heavy user and a couple times a year otherwise. Maintaining it also means it lasts longer. As well, it allows you to get rid of moldy smells caused by stale soap build up and fabric softener. Above all, it means you get a better quality wash.
Cycle One – Baking Soda
Begin 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. Next, run a large, long, hot water cycle and leave it be. If your machine has a self-clean cycle, use it.
Cycle Two – Vinegar
After that, you want to add 2 cups of plain white vinegar and 10 drops of essential oil like tea tree or lavender. The reason being that these EOs help with mildew and mineral deposits and act as a mild disinfectant. Then, run another cycle through and set it to the longest, hottest and biggest setting you can find. The vinegar will help break down any deposits and further remove moldy smells.
After both cycles are complete, you can give a quick wipe down to the drum and agitator using a microfiber 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.
Furthermore, on front load washers, that rubber seal clings on to all kinds of bad stuff. So, for this area, dip a 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. First, clean the inside and outside of the door with vinegar and water using a microfiber cloth. You might really need to scrub well! Secondly, use an all-purpose cleaner and pre-soak really dirty areas around the washer. Finally, scrub grimy areas where necessary with a cleaning toothbrush (and baking soda, if needed) and wipe everything clean with a cotton cloth. You can also soak your dispensing trays and then wipe clean. They can get really grotty and moldy.
Extra Care Tips
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. If smelly laundry is a problem, this will solve it.
Remove your clothes from the washing machine ASAP for the same reason as the last point.
And try to avoid store-bought fabric softeners. They leave a residue, not only on your clothes but also in your washing machine. As we now know this causes odors. We have some easy homemade fabric softener alternatives available.
Finally, use the correct amount of detergent, always. Too much detergent will cling to the walls of your machine and lead to odors and dull clothes. These detergents are designed to be used in small quantities, especially in HE machines.
How to Clean a Dryer
Cleaning the dryer is a little more difficult than cleaning the washing machine. However, it’s very 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 your dryer and emptying the lint trap.
- You can also take the discharge hose out from the back of the dryer (the silver elephant trunk thing). Then give it a good shake to remove any debris.
Now all dryers are created differently. I would strongly recommend consulting your manufacturer’s instructions for the exact directives on these next steps.
- Firstly, you want to unscrew the back panel and then pop it off. After 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.
- Secondly, vacuum the lint trap itself. If you can, remove part of the lint trap by unscrewing it to get to the inside; you’ll find a freakish amount of dust. Make sure you keep those screws separate as 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.
- Next, vacuum anything left behind in the drum. However, be warned that you might find a zoo full of dust bunnies down there.
- Finally, give it a quick wipedown using an all-purpose cleaner and a microfiber cloth. Then 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!