A washing machine is a big purchase for a household. It’s an item that’s used weekly, potentially even more often. It keeps your clothing and linens fresh, clean, and ready to wear or cozy up in, removing stains, allergens, dust, and dirt. Ironically, while a washing machine is designed to help you maintain the quality of your fabrics, it’s also important to take steps to maintain the quality of the machine itself.
Here, we cover 7 tips for maintaining your washing machine to ensure it’s in tip-top condition for years to come.
1. Leave the door open a smidge
This isn’t an Old Wives Tale. You should always leave your washing machine door open between washes. You don’t need to leave it open wide, but just a few inches. The reason is to help it air and dry out, removing any unwanted smells and the chance for bacteria growth. If you close the door right after emptying a wet load and don’t get back to it for another week, this leaves the door open (pun intended) for mold, mildew, and bacteria to fester inside.
2. Run a clean cycle periodically
Yes, the machine designed for cleaning needs some interior cleaning love, too! There are special washing machine cleaners from every manufacturer, usually in the form of a tablet that you can run inside with a special clean cycle to keep the drum fresh and clean. This also helps eliminate build-up of moisture and residue. Alternatively, you can use a mix of vinegar and baking soda. If so, make sure to use a hot water cycle to eliminate the vinegar smell.
It’s recommended to run a clean cycle of your washing machine once a month, but you might be able to get away with doing so every quarter or so, depending on how often you use the washing machine. Try using the changing of the seasons as a good rule of thumb: as you adjust your wardrobe, you should clean the washing machine, too.
3. Use the right amount and type of detergent
There are measuring markings on detergent containers and in washing machine detergent dispensers for a reason. It’s important to use the right amount for the type and the size of the load. Using too much detergent can not only leave residue on your clothing, it can also lead to build-up in the washing machine.
It’s also crucial to also use the right type of detergent: high-efficiency washing machines need high-efficiency detergent. These types of washing machines are designed to use less water. If you use regular detergent, it can result in too many suds being produced. This can impact the performance of the clean and the length of the wash cycle. But it can also cause the machine to overflow. Foam parties are fun, but not on laundry day at home.
4. Clean exterior areas
In addition to ensuring the inside of the machine is clean, you should also take time to clean the outside. This includes the detergent and bleach dispensers, which can accumulate a build-up of dried on detergent residue over time. This can lead to them getting clogged, sticky, and grimy.
Washing machines also have filters, drains, and seals that can get clogged up. Front loading washing machines, for example, have drain filters at the bottom that you need to remove and clean out debris, rinse, then replace. Keep in mind that when you remove the filter, some water may drain out so have a towel handy for clean-up.
When in doubt, refer to the instruction manual that came with the machine (you can find most online if you’ve already tossed yours). Follow the guidelines for which parts, when, and how to clean.
5. Use the right cycles and don’t overload
It’s tempting to throw a week’s worth of clothing into a single wash to get it all done in one shot. Maybe you figure it’s no big deal to wash the towels, linens, and clothing together. But it’s important to use the right cycles to ensure not only proper care of your items but also the machine. Overloading a washing machine with too many items can cause it to overwork and damage the drum as well. You may also get that “dancing washer” that jerks and moves around because the load is too much or, more likely, unbalanced because of extra-heavy items.
The latest washing machines have sensors to detect what type of items are inside and adjust the cycle accordingly. You’ll want to maximize their power and maintain optimal operation by letting the machine do its thing. Put the linens, delicates, and towels together in their own loads and run each on the proper cycle.
6. Clear out pockets
It can be a frustrating chore to go through all the pockets in your clothing before tossing them in a load. But it’s important. From the Toonie deep down in your jeans to your son’s trackpants full of pebbles he was collecting at school, credit cards, and more, items left in your pocket and tossed through the laundry can damage the drum. This is especially the case with metal objects like nails, screws, and keys.
Make it a habit to empty your pockets before putting anything in the hamper to avoid this possibility and encourage everyone in the family to do the same.
7. Ensure proper installation
If you don’t have a professional installing your washing machine, you’ll need to make sure that it’s installed properly. This will prevent imbalances and potential damage. There should be at least four inches of space between your washing machine and the wall. This will prevent the hose in the bank from kinking up and potentially pooling water or not running properly.
The washing machine should also be leveled to prevent it from vibrating, rocking, walking, or, as mentioned, “dancing” around. Adjust the legs of the washer and use a leveler to double check. Many washing machines also come with the option of a pedestal, which you can use to not only elevate it, but also ensure it’s balanced.
It’ll last for years and years!
In following these simple steps, you can extend the life of your washing machine and enjoy the investment for years to come. If you’re looking to upgrade, see a wide selection of washing machines and laundry pairs at Best Buy Online and read the washing machines buying guide to help you find the right fit for your family.