Though it might seem absurd that a machine designed to clean needs cleaning itself, it certainly is the case. If you stop to think about it, it makes complete sense: after all, a multitude of undesirable leftovers can build up inside your washing machine. The first culprits that come to mind are the dirt and grime from your soiled clothes, which can accumulate over time. But there are others: leftover detergent, hard water mineral deposits, mold, and mildew—none of which should really be left in there. You know that funky odor that can sometimes follow your laundry as you transfer it to the dryer? That’s what those lead to. Unless...you give it a good cleaning every now and then.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to what to clean your machine with: bleach and vinegar. If you’re generally a fan of using bleach in the laundry sphere, you’re in luck because it might just be the hardest-working product for sanitizing. If you want to avoid bleach and its harsh chemicals, though, white vinegar is a natural alternative that has powerful deodorizing and bacteria-killing properties.
Whichever cleaning agent you pick, the instructions remain the same. Add two cups of liquid bleach or white vinegar to the dispenser instead of detergent and run an empty, normal cycle with hot water. For those who want a double-duty clean, complete one empty cycle with bleach and a second empty cycle with vinegar. Follow this up with a third empty cycle using a cup of baking soda, which is recommended for its ability to neutralize any remaining bleach or vinegar and eliminate any persistent buildup. If you use your washing machine frequently, you should go through this routine monthly.
Scrub the Gasket
For front-loading washing machines, cleaning the gasket or rubber seal around the door is pivotal. Moisture is known to get trapped in this area, which means mold and mildew love to live there. If your gasket seems to have escaped that fate, be sure to wipe it down after each load to keep it dry and avoid future invasion. If your gasket is as icky as we imagine (we’ve been there ourselves), choose your preferred cleaning agent (diluted bleach or white vinegar) and scrub. Rags, microfiber towels, and nylon brushes all work wonders. Also, leave the door open for an hour or two after use so it airs out.
Any removable trays or wells, like those for fabric softener and bleach, should be taken out and cleaned in the sink because buildup can occur in these spots, too. Before returning the trays, clean their slots as well. This can be done a couple times per year.
Wipe Down the Exterior
Using your favorite all-purpose cleaner, give the exterior of your washing machine a good once-over. Dust and detergent spills that gather on the outside of the machine have a sneaky way of making their way inside during laundry day, so it’s better to keep the surface spotless.
Dry the Interior
Once your cleaning endeavor is complete, wipe down the interior of the machine with a dry soft cloth to make sure all the moisture and scum is completely gone. If it remains damp and dirty in there, all your work was for naught.
Will you be adding this to your cleaning schedule—yay or nay? Tell us in the comments.
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