Cleaning and Maintenance Tips for the Washing Machine

You might think that your washing machine doesn’t need cleaning – after all, it washes itself on the inside with each cycle. But that’s a faulty opinion. A washing machine can be home to grime and mold if not cleaned and maintained. And your laundry is only as clean as your washing machine. Think of that.

Your washing machine also needs a bit of TLC in order to continue working in its optimum condition. Here are some few basic tips in cleaning and maintenance of your washing machine:

1. Avoid overloading your machine

Make sure your washing machine is loaded correctly to keep both the machine and your clothes in proper condition. The machine should be loosely filled to allow the water and detergent to circulate properly with your clothes. When washing bulky or heavy items like blankets and curtains, wash them in small loads so as not to abuse the machine. Follow the machine’s manual for proper loading sizes.

2. Keep the machine level

A washing machine that is not level, with four legs all on the floor, can rock, vibrate or “walk” across the floor during a spin cycle. This is abnormal for washing machines, and it can cause damage to the machine and the floor (and even walls). Keep the machine balanced and as close to the floor as possible. Make sure you use your machine in a laundry area that has a hard, flat and balanced floor.

3. Measure your detergent and use the right kind

Follow the machine’s manual for the recommended amount of detergent per cycle. It’s a common misconception that the more detergent you use, the better. But you are not doing your machine, and even your clothes a favor. There should only be a thin layer of suds in every wash cycle. Too much soap can leave residue on your clothes, and too much suds may cause build up on the drum and hoses that can be a breeding ground for mold, thus causing excess wear and tear on your machine. Also, a build-up of soap suds can cause trouble in proper draining.

It’s best to use a detergent that is made for washing machines, as regular detergents produce a lot of suds. If you own a high-efficiency washer, only use detergents that have HE symbol on the front label. High-efficiency washers use less water, so other detergents may not be rinsed properly.

If you are washing clothes that are stained, remove the stain first or soak it before washing it with your load, instead of adding more detergent than usual.

4. Keep the door open

After washing, keep the washer door or lid open to allow moisture to evaporate from the washing machine’s drum. If you don’t leave it open for a while, the washer will start to smell and it may cause a buildup of mold and mildew.

5. Clean the inside of the washing machine every couple of months

A buildup of detergent residue can build up inside your machine, especially if you always wash in the cold, or with cold water. Clean the tub at least every six months to every couple of months by using commercial washing machine cleaner or a solution of hot water, vinegar, and baking soda. Simply pour distilled white vinegar in the dispenser, and add a cup of baking soda into the drum, then run the machine on a hot cycle and add one extra rinse. If mildew smells are extreme, replace vinegar with bleach. If your washer has a self-cleaning cycle, turn to your manual to know how to use it.

6. Clean the door seals for front loader machines once a month

Front loader washers have door seals that can cause a buildup of grime and mold. Once a month, clean the rubber seal thoroughly by wiping with a clean cloth dipped in a solution of one part water and one part vinegar.

7. Clean the fabric softener dispenser

Don’t forget the fabric softener dispenser. It may contain cleaning agents, but it can turn gooey as residue gums up due to moisture. It is also possible that mold or mildew growth would start if excess moisture would not dry up. During your deep cleaning, use a clean, damp cloth and hot water to clean the dispenser. Also, it’s best to open keep the dispenser drawer open as you keep the door or lid of the machine open while letting it dry.

8. Wipe the exterior of the washing machine

Take care of the exterior of your washing machine as well. Wipe it down periodically to remove dust, sticky residue and stains. Avoid letting any sticky residue to dry up, since removing them takes more work and effort.

9. Inspect the hoses

Always check your washer’s water hoses for signs of wear and tear, like bulging, cracking, blistering, fraying and leaking around the ends. If it causes leaks, replace the hose immediately to avoid flood damage in your home. Sometimes washing machine drain overflows by the wall where the discharge hose goes in. It is important to know how to fix a washing machine drain that overflows by the wall where the discharge hose goes in to prevent the water from flowing over your countertops, under the sink, cabinets, and even under your bed. At standard wear and tear, hoses should last 5-7 years.

10. Clean the filters

Besides the tub, the body and the dispensers, here are the filters you have to check and clean:

  • Drain pump filter – Fabric, hair and other bits of things can get clogged in the drain pump filter, causing slow drainage of water. A clogged drain pump filter also causes excessive vibrations, longer cycle times, unusual pauses during a cycle, and clothes still wet after the final drying spin. Locate it by looking through your manual, but it can be usually found at the front and bottom of the washer behind a small trapdoor. Pull the filter out and remove the solid materials, rinse it out and put it back.
  • Inlet hose filter – This prevents debris and minerals mixed with water from entering your washer. Once they are clogged, water won’t flow efficiently into the washer. To clean, remove the inlet hoses from the back of the washer by using pliers. Check the inlet screens on the back of the water inlet valve and clean it with a small brush without removing the screens.
  • Lint filter – This filter prevents fabric lint from making their way through the mechanisms of the machine, helping your washer run efficiently. It can be found near the top of the tub, or in the agitator tube, which is placed in the center column of the machine. Wash the screen of the filter in warm, soapy water using a brush.


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