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Caring for the most frequently utilised appliance: Washer/Dryer


Cleaning your washing machine

If there's one household appliance most of us simply could not do without, it's the washing machine. It is perhaps one of the most important appliances in the home, used to keep things clean. But people often overlook the fact that it needs cleaning itself.

A dirty washing machine can not only leave your clothes and fabrics with a less than pleasant odor, but it can have a build-up of dirt and grime that can harbor mold, mildew and even dangerous bacteria. Even a washing machine that looks perfectly clean on the outside may be hiding dirt and gunk under the surface. You would be surprised at what you may find.

People often make the mistake of using harsh chemicals to try to clean this build up, but this can be harmful to your washing machine. There are simpler, safer and more effective ways to clean your washer and get rid of unpleasant odors and all you will need are common household ingredients.

White vinegar and baking soda are effective cleaning agents that are non-toxic and environmentally safe. Vinegar acts as a solvent, meaning it can dissolve things like soap scum and grease. Not only that, vinegar is a powerful deodorizer. Although it has a pungent scent itself, this scent does not linger but it will eliminate other unpleasant odors. Additionally, vinegar acts as a natural disinfectant that can kill germs and bacteria. Last but not least, vinegar is cheap compared to expensive chemical cleaning agents. These properties makes vinegar a perfect solution for a dirty washing machine.

Like vinegar, baking soda also has cleaning properties. Baking soda causes dirt and grease to dissolve in water. Unlike air fresheners which simply mask odors, baking soda actually absorbs and eliminates unpleasant scents. Put together, vinegar and baking soda are a power combination that will tackle tough dirt and grime build up in your washing machine.

To clean the tub, simply fill your machine with hot water and add three to four cups of white vinegar. Allow the machine to run for a few minutes then add about half a cup of baking soda. Let the machine run again for a few minutes. Let the water, vinegar and baking soda mixture sit in the machine for at least 30 minutes. The solution will penetrate the grime and odors. Meanwhile you can use a cloth dipped into the solution to wipe down the exterior of the machine. A toothbrush can help you clean around knobs and other hard to wipe areas. You can allow the water to drain while spinning to push out loose grime. This process should be repeated every few months or as needed. This method works for top loading washing machines.

If, however, you have a front loading machine, you will need to follow a slightly different procedure. You must first locate the gasket which is the rubber ring that runs along the opening of your washing machine’s drum. This rubber ring is what creates a seal to prevent water from leaking out of your machine. You will need to peel back the rubber ring which is where dirt and grime tends to build up. To clean the drum of your front loading machine, simply sprinkle about one third a cup of baking soda into the drum and pour two cups of vinegar into the detergent tray. Set you washer on a high temperature and allow it to run through a full wash and rinse cycle. If your machine is very dirty and smelly, you may run a cycle with two cups of bleach loaded into the bleach dispenser. However, do not use baking soda, vinegar and bleach all at once. This can cause a dangerous reaction that may even damage your machine. Be sure to remove the detergent dispenser or other removable parts to clean separately. These can be soaked in warm water, wiped clean and popped back into place. You can easily wipe the exterior of the machine with a damp cloth.

While it’s handy to know how to clean your washing machine, it’s even more useful to know how to prevent it from getting a build-up of dirt and grime in the first place. Sometimes it is as simple as using the right detergent or the right amount of detergent when washing. You can read the manual that comes with your machine for the manufacturer’s recommendations. Using more detergent than necessary during a cycle can cause faster build up in your machine that can result in odors and mildew.

Another common practice that results in odors and mildew is leaving laundry in the washer for too long. If wet laundry is allowed to sit in the machine for too long, it will develop an odor. IF you cannot immediately remove wet laundry, leave the door to the machine open to allow air to pass through and so that moisture isn’t trapped in the space.

In front loading machines, it is advisable to dry the gasket after every use. This can be done by simply wiping with an old, dry towel. This will prevent moisture from being trapped and developing mildew. If the door is to remain closed, dry the inside of the door as well. These simple tips will keep your washer cleaner longer and reduce the amount of full cleanings you will need to do. Still, try to do a full cleaning every few months.

Cleaning your dryer is a more difficult and complicated process and can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing. However, cleaning your dryer is just as important as cleaning your washer because dirty dryers can lead to fires. Lint, which can build up in a dryer, is flammable so a dryer should be thoroughly cleaned at least once per year depending on how often it is used.

The dryer will have to be taken apart, but first make sure it is unplugged. All dryers are not the same so you should consult your manual for instructions on how to take it apart. Once the dryer is dismantled, you will likely see a lot of lint at the base. This can be cleaned with a vacuum with a brush attachment. Wipe down after vacuuming and be sure to put the dryer back together correctly.

So after reading this, why not make it part of your weekend plan? Here's to cleaning that washer/dryer!


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