This may come as a shock to some folks, but cleaning your washing machine is a good idea. Wait, what? I know, I know. It seems odd and a bit like overkill that we should have to clean appliances that are themselves meant to clean things. But we do. And this is especially true for today’s popular high-efficiency (HE) front-loading washing machines.
Why show some cleaning love to your HE washer? After all, by their design, HE washers are more efficient, which means less upkeep, right? Not really. While these washers use much less water than their top load counterparts, there’s still enough water to lead to dreaded mildew. When this funky fungus gets in the gaskets, your washing machine will reek. And after a cycle through a smelly washer, your clothes will stink. No one wants that.
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So, for your washing machine to do its job effectively, like any other appliance, it needs regular TLC. Check out the list of steps below to get your washer squeaky clean. Take note – these suggestions aren’t just for front loaders; top-loading machines will benefit from many of the same measures.
Step 1 – Keep It Dry
When it comes to keeping your washer clean, moisture is your enemy. Mildew thrives in warm, damp, dark environments, so it’s important to ensure your washer stays dry. For your front-loader, wipe down the door and the surrounding rubber gasket with a dry cloth after a day of washing. On off days, leave the washer door open to let air circulate and dry out the interior. If you have small children at home, be sure to lock the door to the laundry room to make sure they can’t access the open washer.
Step 2 – Measure The Detergent
Have your clothes ever come out of the washer smelling like a locker room? We’ve all been there. But the key isn’t to add more detergent on the rewash cycle. Believe it or not, liquid detergent is often behind washed clothes that come out stinky.
When you use extra detergent, the particles from the soap don’t wash completely out of your clothes. Sweat and other dirt on your clothes produce bacteria, which then stick to the soapy fabrics and create an odor. The fix? To reduce residue, switch to a powdered detergent or use only the amount of liquid detergent called for.
For machines with automatic soap dispensers, it’s good practice to periodically clean them to prevent mildew and odor-producing soap buildup. When you’re not washing, leave the dispenser open to get air circulation going.
Step 3 – Sanitize, Rinse, Repeat
To keep your washing machine running fresh and clean, sanitize the inside every few months. Try adding 1 cup of bleach to the bleach dispenser (or directly into the machine if your model doesn’t have one). Bleach has disinfectant properties that kill mold and mildew spores. If you’re short on bleach, you can substitute 1 cup of white vinegar and 1/2 cup of baking soda. Run a hot wash cycle without any laundry. When the cycle ends, wipe down the washer so it’s nice and dry.
Implement these simple steps, and voila, you now have a clean washing machine that’s ready to produce clean laundry. After all, who doesn’t love the smell of freshly laundered sheets, towels, and clothes?