Friday, 7 November 2014

How to clean your washing machine

If you have a front loader like me, it is especially important that you have a regular cleaning routine for your washer in order to keep your clothes coming out clean and stink-free.  Due to the design of front loaders, they are more susceptible to mold and mildew {due to the rubber gasket that lines the door to prevent leakage} as well as detergent residue build up.

So let me start with a little story about our washing machine…. about 6 months after we got our new front loader, I began to notice a not so nice smell coming from our machine.  Using these tips, I did eventually figure out how to get rid of the smell and it has pretty much been stink-free for the past three years.  Now since the smell was gone, I had gotten a little lazy about actually cleaning the washing machine.  No smell meant that everything was clean, right?
Ummm…apparently not.

I’m not sure why I hadn’t noticed all that mold before but it definitely had to go!  If you have a lot of mold like I did, you really need to use bleach to get at it.  As a general rule, I try to stay away from bleach but there was no getting away from it this time!  Make sure that you have some gloves on and keep the doors {and windows if possible} open for ventilation.
Start by wiping down the whole rubber gasket with a white rag soaked in a 50/50 mixture of bleach and warm water.  Make sure you pull back the rubber gasket to clean inside as well as this is where most of the mold will be.  If there is still mold remaining, soak a towel with your bleach mixture, shove it into the gasket, and let it sit for 30 minutes.

 After soaking, remove the towel and scrub the gasket gently with an old toothbrush.  See?  SO much better!

Wipe down the rubber gaskets with a clean dry cloth until no residue remains.  Once you are done, place all of the rags that have come in contact with the bleach into your washing machine and run them through a complete wash and rinse cycle on the hottest setting.
Next, run the machine through a second complete cycle {at the hottest setting} adding 2 cups of vinegar {PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU SHOULD NEVER MIX BLEACH AND VINEGAR TOGETHER!!}.  I added a couple of small, clean bath towels to the wash as well {as per the recommendations from my instruction manual to never run an empty load}.
Remove the detergent dispenser and clean with a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water.  Make sure to wipe down the inside of the washing machine as well where the detergent dispenser goes.

Lastly, clean the inside of the door with a rag and a 50/50 water and vinegar mixture.  Pay extra attention to the bottom aspect of the door where the water would pool. 

So now that your washing machine is clean, how do you keep it that way?  Try these tips every time you run a load…
  • Give the rubber gaskets a swipe.  After each load of laundry, get in the habit of checking the rubber gaskets for any small clothing items {my kids socks love to hang out there} and quickly wiping them down with a dry cloth to get rid of any excess water.  I know that I had no mold when I did this and you can obviously see what my washing machine looked like when I stopped doing this!
  • Leave the door open.  Leave your washing machine door slightly ajar to allow air to circulate and help to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
  • Remove wet clothes promptly.  Okay I know that this does not always happen, but try to do this as much as possible.  If you cannot get to your laundry right away, try to at least pop the door open when the load has finished.
And, finally, get in the habit of giving your washing machine a clean once per month.  If there is no visible mold, skip the bleach and just clean with the vinegar.  This will help to remove all of the soap residues from your machine and leave it clean and disinfected!

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So now your washing machine is sparkling and ready to get on with the dirty business of winter and muddy clothing!  Don't forget to prepare your wood floors for the winter season also....see our blog Prepare Your Wood Floor For Winter

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