Does your washing machine stink? You'd think that in the process of laundering clothes that your washing machine might clean itself. However, dirt, mold, and other grimy residue has a tendency to build up inside your washer over time, which often causes a mildew smell. As such, it's important that you clean your washer periodically. With that in mind, today we'll discuss how to clean your washing machine (front and top-loading machines included) to keep your laundry as clean as possible.
What causes your washing machine to smell?
Believe it or not, all the dirt from your clothing and lines has to go somewhere. Unfortunately, it usually turns into a grimy film that can build up on the inside of your washer. You can actually see traces of this filth around the edges of the wash basin. Go ahead and take a look - we'll wait.
In addition to dirty laundry and without regular cleaning, we also find that washing machines tend to harbor hard-water deposits and leftover detergent which can easily turn into mold or mildew around the lid of the basin which creates an unpleasant odor. You've probably already noticed the smell, but have you noticed the residue on your clothes and towels? Chances are that if your washer stinks, your towels are smelling pretty funky as well.
To ensure that your laundry is getting as clean as possible, it's important to thoroughly clean your washing machine once a month. Not sure what to do? No worries. Here are a few easy ways to clean your washing machine.
Use the self-clean function
Many of today's washing machines have a self-clean function. If you have a machine with this function, you can choose that cycle and follow the manufacturer's instructions to clean your machine.
We particularly like using Affresh Washing Machine Cleaner on our machines, but there are a few other products available that will do the same thing. You may need to run 2-3 wash cycles to effectively clean your machine if you've never cleaned it before. In addition to using the tablet with the self-clean function, you may also want to wipe the wash basin itself as well as the edges with washing machine wipes. This will remove any film left over.
Run a Hot Cycle with Vinegar
If your washing machine does not have a self-clean cycle, you can just as easily clean your washer by running an empty, regular cycle on hot water by replacing your detergent with 2 cups of white vinegar instead. Simply add the vinegar to your detergent dispenser and run a hot cycle. This combination of hot water and white vinegar will remove any mildew, mold or bacteria currently taking residence in your washer as well as prevent future growth. Vinegar can also serve as a deodorizer which can be hugely helpful in getting rid of any lingering mildew odors.
Scrub Your Washing Machine Inside and Out!
We mentioned above that you can use washing machine wipes to clean your washing machine, but you don't have to have a specific wipe to do the job. You can just as easily make your own solution.
Mix 1/4 a cup of vinegar with a quart of warm water, then use this mixture along with a sponge or toothbrush (for the hard to get to spots) to clean the inside of your machine. Don't forget to clean your dispensers as well as the inside of the door and around the wash basin. If you can remove your detergent dispensers, remove them and soak in vinegar water before giving them a good scrub. Then wipe down the exterior of your machine.
Make Sure to Run a Second Hot Cycle
Before you get back to business as usual, make sure to run one more empty, regular cycle with hot water minus detergent or vinegar. If you want, you can add in about 1/2 cup of baking soda to the drum to clear away any debris that might have loosened in the process of cleaning. Then, make sure to completely wipe down the interior of the machine.
If you have a top-loading washing machine...
In addition to the tips above, you may want to pause your machine during the first hot-water cycle after the tub has had a chance to fill and agitate for a minute. Just pause the cycle for an hour so that the vinegar has a chance to soak.
We also find that top-loading machines tend to collect a lot of dust. Therefore, make sure to remove dust or detergent splatters regularly, as well as wipe down the machine using a microfiber cloth. You can use white vinegar for extra cleaning power.
If you have a front-loading washing machine...
We find that the gasket or rubber seal around the door of a front-loading washer is usually responsible for that mildew smell. Moisture and excess laundry detergent are the perfect recipe for mold and mildew, so it's important to keep this area clean. You can use distilled white vinegar around the door (just spray it on and wipe away with a microfiber cloth) for everyday cleaning. If you need a deeper clean, you can wipe that area off with a diluted bleach solution.
Either way, to prevent future mold or mildew growth, simply leave the door of your washing machine open for a few hours after each wash load to let moisture dry out (this also applies toward top-loading machines).
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