If you regularly use a washing machine, you know how essential it is to keep your clothes clean and smell fresh.
But if you have noticed a bizarre or funky smell from the machine, or clothes fresh out of the machine – it may be time to clean your washing machine.
Although it sounds irrational to want to clean something that washes internally every day, this makes sense.
Dirt from the laundry, pieces of food, remains of detergent, and insoluble minerals from the hard water lather, build up in areas that may not be visible.
This, coupled with the warm, dark, and wet environment that a closed washing machine provides, is only a recipe for disaster.
The deposition will trigger and propagate the build-up of mold and fungus within the washing machine.
Besides the build-up of mildew, the debris may block the drains and render your machine from working at full potential.
9 Effective ways to clean your washing machine to increase it’s efficiency
If you think it is time to clean your machine, this article will give you a few tips on how to do that depending on the type of washing machine you have.
Remove clothes immediately
After the machine-washing cycle is complete, make it a habit to take out clean clothes promptly.
Doing so will eliminate the survival and growth of microorganisms, like mildew- that produce a musty smell in both the clothes and the interior of the washer.
Regular manual cleaning
The first and most important thing to prevent the build-up of mold, mildew, dirt, and other deposits that you can do, is to regularly clean out your washing machine.
This includes using a cotton cloth to gently wipe clean the inside of the door and the rubber gasket – most especially with front-loading machines.
This is because the inside of the door keeps the water and soap, unlike top-load machines. Regardless of the type of washer, it is also imperative to remove any debris lodged in the machine.
This especially includes pet hair, which may be stuck on clothes and when washed, left inside the machine. To remove this, let the drum dry and use a vacuum to remove the dry hair thoroughly.
You may also like: Front Load vs Top Load washing machines: All You Need to Know
Keep the lid open
To allow air circulation within the machine, keep the lid open.
There is often a magnetic door plunger that is attached to the interior of the door panel in front-load washer models.
Its function is to hold the door open when the machine is not operating, which allows the door and the rubber seal to dry off completely.
This prevents the build-up of any bacteria or fungus.
If you notice moisture collecting in the door, this part may not be working properly and may require replacement.
Cleaning the rubber gasket
Use hydrogen peroxide or even distilled white vinegar, soaked onto a cloth, and smear it across the length of the rubber gasket, taking special care of any loose areas or cavities.
This will loosen up the mold and grease on and underneath the seal and also disinfect the area.
Wait for an hour, scrub with a wet toothbrush or cloth, and then wipe the area clean.
Running a wash cycle
Some newer and more advanced machines come with a pre-set self-washing cycle.
But if your machine does not have this setting, just manually set the cycle to the hottest water temperature for the longest wash cycle.
We then add some cleaning materials – ranging from specific products to readily available household items depending on what you have on hand.
Given below are a few combinations for this.
1. The first way is to dispense vinegar and baking soda into the machine and let the wash cycle clean the machine.
This is slightly different depending on the model of the washing machine you have at home.
For a front-loading machine, add 1 liter of white vinegar into the detergent dispenser and a half cup of baking soda to the secondary fabric softener dispenser, and press start to run the cycle.
For a top-loading washer, first, start the cycle. After a few minutes, add in the 1 liter of white vinegar.
The cycle will mix this into the water well, after which you can pause a cycle for up to half an hour.
Then add the half cup of baking soda and then allow the machine to complete the wash cycle.
2. Another way to do this is by using citric acid and baking soda, which will aid to remove the build-up of tougher grease.
This is also dependent on the model of the washing machine you have at home.
For a front-loading machine, mix and add 1 cup of citric acid and a half cup of baking soda into the detergent dispenser, and press beginning the cycle.
For a top-loading washer, first, start the cycle.
After a few minutes add 1 cup of citric acid and a half cup of baking soda to the water.
Allow this to mix into the water and let it sit for up to half an hour.
After this, allow the machine to complete the wash cycle.
3. To removing stickier residue from the insides of your machines you can use Oxygen bleach and detergent.
For a front-loading machine, use as much detergent as is specified for a regular-large wash on the box, and try to pick a powdered option as compared to the liquid detergents.
Mix this with a cup of oxygen bleach and place it in the dispenser and then let the cycle run from beginning to end.
For a top-loading washer, first start the cycle.
After a few minutes add the specified amount of detergent to the water and allow this to mix and lather for around 15 minutes.
Then add the oxygen bleach and let the cycle complete.
Someone can implement once one of these methods in three months, just to ensure that there is no build-up of any mold or mildew within the walls or door of your washing machine.
Using a Cleaning Tablet
Using a cleaning tablet designed to keep the inside of your washing machine spic and span may be one of the easiest ways to do so.
There are several options for these tablets available on the market.
Using them is pretty simple, just empty your washer and place one of the washing machine cleaner tablets directly in the tub instead of the dispenser.
After this, simply press start and run a normal cycle with a high temperature of the water. After the cycle ends wipe away the residue left behind, if any.
Clean the dispenser
Add 1/4 cup vinegar into a liter of warm water and soak a cloth in this mixture.
Use this cloth to clean the detergent dispenser and the softener dispenser.
If they are removable, you can even soak them in the vinegar water before cleaning them with the cloth.
Check this out: Best Liquid Detergents for Front Load Washing Machine in India
Clean the exterior
To clean the exterior of the washing machine, use a water-vinegar mixture in the ratio of 2:1, and soak a sponge in it.
With the sponge wipe down the entire exterior of the machine, including the glass front of the lid.
For the areas that are harder to reach, use a toothbrush to scrub out the debris and dirt stuck outside.
Clear the pipes
Every once in a while, make sure to periodically remove the inlet water pipes from the back of the washing machine to check for any obstructions.
Usually, there are filters placed at the mouth of the pipes meant to catch the sand and dirt. Over time, this collection may build up and prevent the inflow of water from effectively wash your clothes.
You should also remember to turn off the inlet valves to the pipes when you will not use the machines for over a week. That way, you can prevent pipes from bursting/leaking.
The above tips will help you keep your washing machine clean and free of any further build-up of any bacteria or fungus.
Stick to the routine and incorporate them into your day-to-day lives.
However, if your machine has already been smelling odd for a while, start with a full clean-up of both the interior and exterior.
To do this, you can follow a simple three-step routine, using common household items that include – distilled white vinegar, baking soda, and tea tree oil.
1. Usually the smells originate from the deposits on the door gasket, filters, and dispensers.
These parts are removable, or at least easy to access and clean.
To do so, you can use something narrow like a Q-Tip to get under the gasket and remove any hair, dirt, food particles, etc.
After removing any debris, use a cloth soaked in vinegar to wipe clean both the interior and the exterior of the washing machine. This should eliminate any mold or fungus growth.
2. The next step involves killing the fungi and bacteria within the washer drum for good.
To do this, fill up the washing machine with some boiling water.
Mix this with 4 cups of white vinegar with a top-loading machine or 2 cups of white vinegar for a front-loading washer.
To this mixture add 2 tablespoons of tea tree oil.
After allowing the cycle to run for a few minutes to mix these up, let it sit for around 45 minutes to an hour to get rid of the grime inside the drum.
After that, let the cycle run to completion.
3. The last step is to get rid of any odor that remains in the washing machine.
Although the origin of the odor has been eliminated, the use of baking soda, which is a natural deodorizing agent, is useful.
For this cycle, fill the machine with warm water and add 2 cups of baking soda directly into it. After allowing this to mix, let it soak for around 30 minutes.
Then, let the cycle complete and then leave the door open to dry.
With all these tips and tricks you should now be able to combat the mildew build-up in your washing machine, if any.
So next time your clothes that are fresh out of the machine smell weird, you know exactly what to do, even without having to purchase any special cleaning equipment for this purpose.
If you are still skeptical about whether your machine needs cleaning, maybe it is time you peeped into the machine and looked in the crevices to see if any discolored deposits may be molded or bacteria.
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