Sweater on top of sweater with two or three layers under the sweaters – that’s how we roll during a New England winter. If you’re still playing our friendly Heating Hold Out, you might have a few more layers on top of all that, making your winter laundry piles the biggest you’re likely to see all year.
Help Your Washer Keep Up
While your machine is ridding your mounds of winter clothes of dirt, pine needles and ice melting sand, it can accumulate a buildup of said dirt and detergent residue that makes it harder to do its job.
“We’ve helped out a few clients whose machines were so dirty, they actually thought the machine was broken” said Brandon Sheck from G&C Plumbing and Heating. “These machines wash some pretty dirty stuff, and need to be cleaned to keep up.”
Most manufacturers recommend cleaning the machine once a month, but let’s face it, that’s as likely to happen as your eight-year-old remembering to floss his teeth every day. So, let’s get real here.
If you’re lucky enough to have a separate cleaning cycle as an option on your machine, run it whenever you can remember. Brandon suggests trying, really hard, to remember this option after you wash a load of cleaning rags because that can really gunk up your machine.
If you don’t have a cleaning cycle, not sure or unsure how to use it – not to fear. “Just identify your machine and select a cleanser,” said Brandon. “High energy front loaders and top loaders need one cleaning approach; top-loading non-HE machines need a slightly different approach.”
Pick a Cleanser
White vinegar, bleach or a commercial cleanser are your best options. Vinegar is nontoxic, cheap and easy to get your hands on, but some manufacturers recommend bleach or other chemical cleansers. “If you still have your manual, check to see what it recommends, if not, vinegar is pretty harmless,” said Brandon. “Just don’t mix cleaners – that’s a big and dangerous mess!”
HE Washers – Front Loading or Top Loading
Wiping down the interior of the washer to keep these machines from developing an odor is something you should do frequently. Here is the bigger cleaning:
Choose the “clean” cycle if your machine has one. If not, select the hottest water setting - typically the one for whites or heavily stained clothes.
Choose an added rinse cycle if available. (If not, run the rinse cycle a second time manually)
Fill the bleach dispenser with your cleanser.
Fill the tub as high as you can and run the machine.
When the cycle has ended, clean the gasket that seals the door and the area around it.
Clean the detergent, bleach and fabric softener dispensers. If you can pop them out – do it!
If you’re feeling extra motivated, wipe down the controls and the outside of the machine for a like new shine. This won’t help your machine clean your laundry, but it will look nice.
Top-Loading Non-HE Washers
Chances are these machines will not have a cycle for cleaning, but no worries. Cleaning is a bit more time consuming, but you can do it a few times a year for the sake of your clothes, can’t you?
Choose the hot water setting and the longest cycle.
Fill the tub to the maximum level, then pause the machine.
Add 4 cups of white vinegar or 1 cup of bleach to the water and let the machine agitate for a minute or two.
Pause the machine and let it sit for an hour. Dip a cloth into the soaking solution, wring it out and use it to clean the top of the drum, agitator, and inside of the lid.