Many of us take our machines for granted and it’s important we show them some love to keep them working safely and efficiently. We will break down how to rid your washer of dirt and built-up detergent residue and then how to clean your dryer and dryer vents.
Before we dive in, it’s important to know what type of machine you have before you begin cleaning. HE front and top loaders use one approach and top loading non-HE machines will need another. We always recommend referencing the manual and following the manufacturers recommendation on what cleaner to use – many manuals can be found online these days! Personally, we opt for the most natural, non-toxic cleaners available. We use plain white vinegar mixed with Thieves Household Cleaner – both are nontoxic. If you opt to use a commercial product, follow the label’s instructions.
High Efficiency Machines – front and top loaders
We recommend cleaning your HE machine at least once a month to avoid an odor from developing and keep them working their best. Most newer machines have a “clean washer” cycle, which makes this process even simpler, but the basic procedure is the same whether you have that option or not.
- Select the “clean cycle” option. If you machine doesn’t have this setting, select the hottest water setting (usually whites or heavy load cycles).
- Choose the added rinse cycle, if available.
- Fill the bleach dispenser with your cleaner of choice and start.
- If you don’t have a second rinse cycle, run one again manually when your clean cycle is over.
- Once the cycle has ended, use a microfiber cloth and Thieves Cleaner or vinegar to clean the gasket that seals the door and the area around it. Carefully pull the gasket back and inspect for any mold, mildew, or socks… it happens.
- Wipe down the rest of the washing machine drum and remove any hair or lint that is leftover from the clean wash cycle.
- Pull out the soap dispenser and wipe it down.
- Finish by wiping down the controls and the outside of the machine.
Older top loaders do not typically have a cycle for cleaning, but that’s ok! You can create your own – here’s how!
- Select the hot water setting and the use the longest washing cycle.
- Fill the washing machine tub to the maximum level, then pause the machine.
- Add 4 cups of white vinegar and 1 tablespoon of Thieves Household Cleaner to the water and let the machine agitate for a minute or two.
- Pause your machine and let it sit for an hour. Dip a microfiber cloth into the soaking solution, wring it out and use it to clean where the water doesn’t reach. If you can remove the bleach and fabric softener dispensers, do so and clean the areas.
- Clean the control panel and the outside of the machine with Thieves Cleaner or vinegar.
- Restart the machine and finish the cycle.
To prevent odors between cleanings, leave your machine’s lid open so the interior can dry out completely. Ensure that your kids and pets can’t get into the machine (especially if it’s a front loading one). Additionally, wiping down the gasket around the door after every load of laundry will help prevent a buildup of dirt and grime in the area. Also remember to use the correct amount of detergent for your loads!
Dryer and Dryer Vents
Lint buildup in dryer vents can make your dryer work less efficiently and (even scarier) can cause a fire. Cool, dry weather increases static electricity, which can ignite lint that has built up. Here’s how you can clean your dryer vents if you don’t want to hire a specialist:
- Unplug your dryer. If you have a gas dryer – shut off the gas.
- Pull the dryer slightly away from the wall.
- Loosen the clamp holding the hose.
- Use a vacuum attachment or a lint brush made for dryer hoses to clean out the hose and the duct behind the dryer.
- I like to go to the exterior duct and clean from that end as well!
- Replace the hose, gently move the dryer to the wall without crushing the hose and plug back in.
This is also a great time to give your lint trap a good soak and scrub to remove wax build up (found in conventional dryer sheets and fabric softener). Soak your lint trap in warm, soapy water and then scrub with a sturdy brush. Wipe the controls, drum, and exterior of the dryer down with your Thieves Cleaner or vinegar and that’s it!
You’ve officially cleaned your washer and dryer! Be sure to bookmark this post so you can easily reference it next time!