Home Maintenance Tips: How to clean your washing machine

top-loading-washing-machine-9741-5392359I laughed the first time I was asked to clean out the washing machine by my wife.  I thought to myself “it’s a washing machine…it cleans clothes…how dirty can it be?”  The reality is that the washing machine is a pretty dirty place.  It can be full of soap residue and other minerals from detergents.  Also, add in the normal things that get on your clothing (hair, dirt, crumbs), then add all the stuff on your kids’ clothes (no examples are given, you can use your imagination!).  Yeah, so the washing machine gets dirty and it needs to be cleaned.

This task is something that you should add to your Home Maintenance Schedule.  How often to clean the washer is up to you.  I try to do our washing machine twice a year, though a 13-month-old may have us cleaning a little more frequently. The following technique is just the one that I use; there are several different techniques out there!

For a Top Loading Washing Machine

  1. Wipe down the outside of the washing machine, the inside of the lid and other areas where the basin water can’t reach. I usually use a 50/50 water and vinegar solution for this.
  2. Fill the washing machine up with hot water. Some people recommend using hotter water than what their water heater can make.  If you need hotter water you could adjust the thermostat on your water heater an hour or two before cleaning (just remember to adjust your thermostat back down after cleaning is complete).
  3. Add a quart of bleach to the full water basin. If you’re not crazy about the idea of using bleach then just use vinegar for both cycles.
  4. Close the lid and let the bleach and water mix for one minute, then open the lid and let the mixture stand for one hour.
  5. After the one hour, let the washing cycle run and drain.
  6. Repeat steps 1-4, but instead of bleach use one quart of vinegar.
  7. Clean out dispenser areas with 50/50 water and vinegar solution.

NOTE: Do not mix bleach and vinegar solution, as it will create a toxic gas.

For a Front Load Washing Machine

Unlike many top load washing machines, front loading machines can have many differences.  We recommend referring to your owner’s manual before attempting to clean your front load washing machine.  Most types of front loads go through the same general steps, like:

  1. Wipe the outside of the unit.
  2. Clean the door and sealing ring.
  3. Clean or change water filters (if applicable).
  4. Clean detergent trays and run a self clean cycle.

Again, the models are too different to make a general cleaning process, so refer to your owner’s manual for exact instructions.

NOTE: Do not mix bleach and vinegar solution, as it will create a toxic gas.

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