The washing machine is perhaps the most time-saving appliance of any modern household. You could get a bucket full of dirty clothes washed in half the time it takes to do it independently with the same ingredients. It is perhaps the most crucial and yet the most neglected appliance in your house.
You would have thought that the soaps and detergents you put into cleaning your clothes would clean the machine too. How wrong you are. The soaps leave soap residue, and the detergents contain minerals that hamper the overall functioning of the washing machine after some time. They form a layer of gunk in the wash drum, and the moisture trapped in the wash drum proliferates the growth of bacteria, mildew and molds. Soon you will notice that your “washed” clothes are not as clean as they used to be when they were brand new. If your washing machine starts to emit a foul odor, it means your washing machine needs a deep cleaning.
Therefore, you cannot expect soap and detergent to clean the washing machine like cleaning your clothes. It is only fair for all the work it does that you, as owners, give your washing machines a bit of affection by regularly cleaning and maintaining them.
You may think that your machine may require different cleaning styles, given that there are two types of machines: top load and front load. Luckily for you, the cleaning technique is similar for both types of machines.
How to clean your Washing Machine
You should have some vinegar, baking soda, a toothbrush, a microfiber cloth, a dishwashing liquid, a multi-purpose cleaning agent and a bowl of water to clean your top load washing machine. Then follow the below mentioned steps:
Step 1: Run a Wash Cycle
It would be best to run a hot water cycle before cleaning the empty washing machine to remove any detergent particles left in it. If it is a top load washing machine you are using, it is better to use a liquid detergent. Newer washing machines will make your job easier as they come with a washer cleaning cycle with features to preset the agitation, time and water temperature.
Step 2: Add Vinegar
You should fill two-thirds of the machine drum with water and add a cup of vinegar to it. Let the solution sit for an hour. The vinegar will clean the washing machine’s surface thoroughly and will break away any stubborn dirt in the machine. You should keep the lid of the washing machine open for the entire hour.
You should make some considerations while using vinegar. The vinegar used for cleaning the machine is diluted and cannot remove the hard water deposits in the machine. Only a full-strength vinegar can do that. However, even full-strength vinegar is not as good for cleaning as bleach or commercial cleaner. Most importantly, you should not overuse vinegar as it will damage the machine in the long run.
Step 3: Wash the Lint filter and Detergent Trays
While the wash drum sits with the vinegar solution, you should remove the detergent dispenser panel and wash the fabric softener and detergent trays with dishwashing liquid and warm water.
You must also clean your lint filter, a small mesh filter that catches lint or tiny fibers from the cloth’s surface while washing. Before you proceed to clean your lint filter, you must find out whether it is removable or non-removable. Suppose your washing machine has a removable lint filter. In that case, you must remove it according to the instructions provided and use an old toothbrush and paper towel to clean the filter. Then you must soak the cleaned filter in hot water mixed with 1 tsp. of dishwashing liquid for about an hour. This will remove the remaining dirt in the filter. Then you must give it a final wash with plain water before attaching it back. If your washing machine comes with a non-removable lint filter, you should seek professional help.
You should clean the lint filter once every two months.
Step 4: Wipe Clean the Washing Machine
It would be best if you wiped the exteriors of the top-loading washing machine with a microfiber cloth or lint-free cotton rag. You can use a commercial cleaner for this purpose, but make sure that you read the instructions and test it on a small surface before using it. You should remove the dust and debris in the machine’s corners with an old toothbrush and wipe the insides of the lid and the settings panel properly.
Step 5: Carry out another Wash cycle
After a thorough cleaning of the washing machine, you must run another wash cycle set at the highest temperature offered by your washing machine for the most extended duration. However, like step 1, it should also be an empty load.
Step 6: Run Another Wash Cycle with Baking Soda
You should run another wash cycle, this time with 1 cup of baking soda to remove the vinegar residue from step 2 and clean the machine thoroughly. Baking soda contains alkali that dissolves dirt and grease in water and cleans the washing machine thoroughly.
Step 7: Wipe Clean the entire Machine Drum
After draining the water with baking soda, you must wipe clean the entire machine drum with a clean cotton cloth.
Step 8: Clean the Machine’s Drain Pipe
Your washing machine’s drain pipe gets clogged after regular usage. You should check the instruction manual of your washing machine before cleaning the drain pipe or seek professional help.
Maintenance of the Washing Machine
It is as essential maintaining your washing machine as you clean it. It would help if you took out the washed clothes from the machine as soon as the wash cycle is over. However, it would be best if you closed the lid of the machine immediately. Leave the lid open for 10-15 minutes after every wash cycle. This lets air circulate in and out of the machine, preventing moisture and mold build-up and unpleasant odors from the machine. You must always try to use a good quality detergent, not any detergent available in the market.
You should remove any debris or pet hair if you have a pet that sheds in the house. You must leave the washing machine’s door open until the drum is dry and then vacuum the pet hair out.
If it is a front-loading washing machine you are using, you must check for any small items, like baby socks, in the gasket, which could be trapped there and dry them to keep the mold away. If you want top-quality cleanliness, you can clean your settings panel, door handle, and detergent drips around the machine.