Maintain Your Washer And Dryer For Optimal Performance And Savings
You faithfully empty the dryer filter after every load and are the Queen of Clean. Yet, your clothes are emerging from the washer with a fuzzy coating on them and your drying cycles are getting longer and longer.
We all abuse our washer and dryer, often taking them for granted. From muddy uniforms or cleaning rags to our favorite jeans and tees, these machines take a beating day in and day out.
You need to clean your washer and dryer. Clean? But that’s their job! Sounds unnecessary and impractical, but when you think about all the dirt that cycles through on a daily basis, these workhorses can’t be taken for granted… they need a washing too! If you don’t take the necessary steps to maintain them, you can lose performance, increase your utility bill, burn out the motor and possibly cause a fire from excess lint.
Unfortunately, vents are one of those “out of sight, out of mind” areas, and neglecting them may cause serious damage to your pocketbook.
If you set aside time each month to clean them, you will reap significant savings and extend the life of your units.
Front Load Machines
Many of us have HE and front load machines. Since HE washers use less water and energy, detergent residue, dirt, grime, pet fur, and mildew can build up, reducing performance and making them stinky.
There are two areas you need to maintain: The drain hose and rubber molding inside the door.
Most front-loading washers have a drain hose that needs to be maintained monthly. If you overlook this, water can back up into the washer’s drum, your clothes will still be soaked, it can leak, and the repairman will charge you a $150 service call fee to perform a very simple task.
On the front of the washer in either the lower right or left side, you should see an access panel that pops off. Behind that access door is a small black hose with a cap. Before you clean this, grab a small bucket or container to catch and hold the water that is inside the hose as well as an
old towel to mop up any spills.
Open the access door and gently unclip the hose and remove the cap. Hold your finger over the tip of the hose and aim the hose down into the bucket. Remove your finger and let the water flush out. Don’t panic if a lot of soapy water comes out, this is normal. Once all the water has emptied, place the cap back on, re-clip the hose and replace the access cover.
Next, inspect the rubber door seal for mold and mildew. Pull back the seal and look inside every crevice. If you have mildew, mix ½ cup of bleach with a liter of warm water. Moisten a clean cloth and wipe the rubber collar to remove the mildew. If you don’t have mildew, use a warm wet cloth to wipe out the gunk. Next, wipe out the detergent, bleach, and fabric softener dispensers. Clean the top, sides, and front of the washer, then leave the washer door open to dry out.
Top Load Machines
If you have a top loading washer, find your lint trap if it has one. It can be in the agitator, at the top of the washer on the rim of the tub or
attached to the washing machine’s drainage hose. Once you locate it, remove the lint screen if possible or simply peel any loose lint from the filter and scrub away any extra lint with a paper towel or sponge. If you can remove the screen, soak it in a sink or bucket filled with hot water for a few minutes before replacing it. (The hot water helps to dissolve any leftover detergent or fabric softener residue.) Use an old toothbrush to gently scrape the screen to ensure any remaining residue is removed. Dry with a soft cloth and return to the machine. Check for any loose lint that may have dropped into the wash basin and remove.
Next, wipe out the detergent, bleach and fabric softener dispensers. Clean the top, sides and front of the washer, then leave the washer door open to dry out.
Cleaning The Tub Once a Month (Both Machines)
1 Box Arm and Hammer Baking Soda
Fill the washing machine with hot water on the largest setting with no laundry. Add 1 box of Arm and Hammer Baking Soda. Set to the longest soak cycle, then allow the washing machine to run a complete soak, wash and rinse cycle.
Run one last rinse cycle to completely clean the machine. (If you have strong odors, run an additional cycle with 2 cups vinegar using the same directions above). Leave the washer door open afterwards to dry out.
Like the washer, there are many new energy-efficient models that use less energy, remove wrinkles and gently steam clean our clothes, saving us a trip to the cleaners.
This section does not discuss how to clean the dryer vent hose – just remember the importance of cleaning it at least twice a year to remove lint buildup and avoid fires. Instead, we’ll concentrate on the lint vent and trap.
If you use dryer sheets, over time, these leave a film on your lint screen that can lead to problems because it blocks the airflow, making your dryer run longer, use more energy, and burn out the heating unit sooner. By keeping the dryer lint screen clean, you can possibly double the life of your dryer.
To clean the screen, remove the screen and pull off all visible lint. Fill a sink or bucket with hot water. Add dish detergent to the water and agitate it to mix in the detergent. Place the lint trap into the water and allow it to soak for a few minutes. Use an old toothbrush to gently scrape the screen to remove any remaining residue. Dry with a soft towel and set aside while you clean the trap.
For less than a dime, you can create a DIY lint trap cleaner that will help you get into this hard to access area and remove excess lint not captured by the lint screen. Beware that what you find may disgust you!
1 Wire Hanger
Several Sheets of Paper Towels
Rubber Bands, Binder Clips or Tape
Take apart a wire hanger and extend it. Curve the bottom portion back onto itself and leave the top curved portion as your ‘handle’.
Wrap a paper towel tightly around the bottom of the hanger and secure the bottom and top with either rubber bands, tape, or a binder clip. (Make this narrow enough that it will fit inside your dryer’s lint trap.)
Dampen the paper towel slightly so the lint will adhere. Place the paper towel end of the hanger into the trap and begin to turn it around and around (pretend like you are making cotton candy!) If you have a trap inside the drum, peer inside the trap to see how much lint has fallen to the bottom (Yikes!). Use the hanger/towel to ‘scoop’ up the lint from the bottom of the trap. As it comes out, grab it and throw it into a nearby trash can. If you need to replace your towel, follow the above steps and repeat until you have all the lint removed. If your lint trap is on top of your machine, ‘scoop’ the lint up the trap and remove and throw away. (You may need to bend your hanger to curve it into the trap)
Replace the lint screen. Use clean paper towels to wipe up any excess lint that may have fallen into the dryer or on the floor, remove and throw away the dirty paper towels from the hanger, and hang your new tool on a hook until its next use.
Compare the cost of a DIY lint trap cleaner with a retail product: DIY = less than 10 cents
Lint Lizard: $10.99
Dryer Max Lint Removal Kit: $16.95
Home Smart Dryer Maid Ball $13.00