Imagine an afternoon with a pile of dirty laundry. Happy that you have a reliable machine to take care of the chore, you load the clothes, add detergent, and wait for the magic to happen. Yet, as you pull out your favorite sweater, you pause; an unexpected and unpleasant smell permeates the fabric. This is most likely a sign that your washing machine needs a good cleaning. This article guides you through the essential steps on how to effectively clean your washing machine, bringing back its sparkling hygiene and top-notch performance. Let’s get ready to banish those unwanted laundry odors for good!
Understanding the Need to Clean a Washing Machine
Surprisingly, one common household appliance often neglected when it comes to regular deep cleaning is your washing machine. Yes, the very tool you rely on to keep your clothes fresh and clean needs cleaning too!
Why cleaning your washing machine is important
Your trusty washing machine works hard. With every load of laundry, it swishes and swooshes your garments clean, removing stains and odours. But, as it strives to clean your clothes, it’s also collecting a host of things you don’t want lingering around – dirt, detergent residues, leftover fabric softener, hard water mineral deposits, and even mould and mildew. Over time, this unwanted buildup can impact the machine’s performance and reduce its lifespan. It can also lead to unpleasant odours and compromise your laundry’s cleanliness.
Common issues from a dirty washing machine
When your washing machine is neglected for too long, the consequences can be unpleasant. Smelly clothes, ineffective cleaning, stains left on clothing, and even damage to the machine itself are common issues. In the worst-case scenario, a poorly maintained machine may work harder, resulting in skyrocketing energy bills or a complete machine breakdown.
Signs your washing machine needs cleaning
Is your laundry coming out not as fresh as it used to? There might be an underlying, invisible issue: your washing machine might be dirty. Signs you need to clean your machine include unpleasant smells, visible mould or mildew, soap residues or excessive suds after cycles and less effective cleaning.
Frequency of Cleaning a Washing Machine
Contemplating how often to clean your washing machine? Let’s break it down.
Determining how often to clean
If you’re using your washing machine daily, a good rule of thumb is to give it a thorough cleaning once a month. However, if your machine is used less frequently, cleaning it every other month should suffice.
Factors influencing cleaning frequency
Several factors can influence how often you should clean your washing machine. These include the number of loads you do each week, whether you wash a lot of soiled clothes, whether you live in a hard water area, and if you use primarily powder detergents, which can cause more buildup.
Materials Required for Washing Machine Cleaning
Before you roll up your sleeves, let’s familiarise ourselves with the essential cleaning toolkit.
Overview of cleaning materials
To effectively clean your washing machine, you’ll need cleaning products such as a commercial washing machine cleaner or white vinegar and baking soda. You’ll also require a clean cloth and sponge, an old toothbrush, and possibly a vacuum cleaner.
Choosing the best cleaning products
The market is flooded with washing machine cleaners, but it is essential to choose a product that is safe for your machine and effective in removing grime and buildup. Opt for cleaners with non-toxic ingredients and strong customer reviews.
Homemade washing machine cleaners
As an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative, consider using natural cleaners like white vinegar and baking soda. These household items are remarkably descentaling agents and can freshen up your washing machine just as well, if not better than commercial products.
Cleaning the Washing Machine Interior
The washing machine’s interior, particularly the drum, is a hotspot for grime and mould growth.
Start with an empty washing machine. Set your machine to its hottest cycle and highest load size, then add two cups of white vinegar to the drum. After the machine has filled with water, add half a cup of baking soda. After the full cycle has run, wipe down the drum with a damp cloth to remove any remaining residue.
Specific advice for top loading machines
In the case of a top-load washing machine, let the machine fill first and then add vinegar and baking soda. This order will ensure the mixture distributes evenly throughout the drum.
Specific advice for front loading machines
For front-load machines, add the vinegar to the detergent dispenser and the baking soda directly into the drum. Run the empty machine through a hot water cycle.
Cleaning the Washing Machine Drum
The drum takes the most beating in a washing machine and deserves special attention.
Understanding the drum’s role
The drum is the heart of your washing machine, where the actual washing takes place. Therefore, it’s crucial that it remains clean and free of soap scum, mildew, and grime.
Steps for cleaning the drum
Once the interior cleaning cycle is complete, use a damp cloth to wipe down the drum thoroughly. For stubborn spots, you can use a non-abrasive household cleaner or a paste made from baking soda and a little water.
Preventing future buildup in the drum
To avoid future buildup, always remove washed laundry promptly, leave the machine door or lid open after use to promote air circulation, and consistently use the recommended amount of detergent.
Cleaning the Washing Machine Dispenser Drawer
The detergent dispenser drawer is another section of your washing machine that can become clogged with detergent and fabric softener.
Why it’s imperative to clean the detergent drawer
If the detergent drawer is left uncleaned, it can lead to issues with your machine’s performance. It can also become a breeding ground for bacteria and mould due to the damp surroundings.
Getting to the dispenser drawer
Some washing machines have removable dispenser drawers, but for others, you may need to reach inside the machine to access this area. Once you’ve located the drawer, remove or reach inside and thoroughly wipe the area with a warm, soapy cloth or sponge.
Best techniques for cleaning the drawer
Use an old toothbrush to scrub away stubborn residues. Rinse the drawer under warm water and let it dry completely before slotting it back into the machine.
Maintaining a clean dispenser drawer
To keep the drawer clean, rinse it regularly and dry it thoroughly before replacing it.
Cleaning the Washing Machine Filter
The washing machine’s filter plays a crucial job in trapping debris like dirt and loose fibers.
Function of the washing machine filter
The purpose of the filter is to catch any remaining debris in your laundry load that wasn’t drained out during the washing cycle. If it isn’t cleaned regularly, it can become clogged and hinder the machine’s performance.
Locating the filter
Typically, the filter is located at the bottom front of the machine. You may need to consult your machine’s manual if you have trouble locating it.
Cleaning process for the filter
Before cleaning the filter, place a towel or a shallow dish beneath it to catch any residual water. Once you’ve removed the filter, clean it under warm water and use a soft brush to dislodge any trapped debris.
Common problems with washing machine filters
A faulty or blocked filter can lead to a few problems. Slower draining, water leakage, and a machine that won’t fully spin are common issues tied to filter problems.
Handling Stains, Mould and Mildew
Mould and mildew must be treated quickly and effectively. Left untreated, they can spread and affect the overall performance of the machine and the cleanliness of your clothes.
Signs of mould and mildew
Visible dark spots, a musty smell, or allergies are signs of mould and mildew. They typically thrive in high humidity spots, so the washing machine’s drum, detergent drawer, and door seals are common breeding grounds.
Cleaning techniques for removing mould and mildew
You can remove mould by running a hot cycle with a washing machine cleaner or using white vinegar and baking soda. Use a toothbrush to scrub away visible mould spots. Always remember to wear protective gloves when handling mould.
Preventing future mould growth
To prevent future mould growth, leave your washing machine door open to air dry after use, remove clothes promptly, and ensure your laundry room is well ventilated.
Sanitising the Washing Machine
A clean washing machine should also be a sanitised one.
Benefits of sanitising
Sanitising destroys germs and bacteria that can breed in the damp, warm interiors of your washing machine, keeping it truly clean and safeguarding your clothes from bacterial contamination.
How to sanitise a washing machine
Run a hot cycle with a product specifically designed to sanitise washing machines or use four cups of white vinegar and one cup of baking soda. Remember to do an extra rinse cycle at the end to ensure no cleaning material residue is left.
Choosing the right sanitising product
Look for a product marked as a washing machine disinfectant which is suitable for your type of machine. Alternatively, white vinegar is a great natural disinfectant.
Maintaining a Clean Washing Machine
Maintaining a clean washing machine doesn’t stop at deep cleaning.
Routine maintenance tips
Run a cleaning cycle with white vinegar and baking soda regularly, avoid overloading your machine, and always use the recommended dosage of detergent. Also, keep the washing machine door open after use to air it out and prevent mould growth.
Understanding washing machine cycles for maintenance
Understanding your machine’s cleaning or self-maintenance cycle (if it has one) is useful. It typically heats up the water to a high temperature and spins the drum to clean itself.
Achieving longer lifespan for your machine
Regularly cleaning and maintaining your machine will not only keep it running efficiently but can also extend its lifespan. Like any investment, the better you care for it, the longer it will last, saving you money and time in the long run.
So, don’t neglect your stalwart washing machine; it deserves as much care as the clothes it cleans. Your reward will be consistently clean, fresh-smelling laundry and a machine that stays in top shape for years. Happy cleaning!