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How To Clean Your Washing Machine & Dryer

Washing Machine & Clothes Dryer | SHW Blog

Having an at-home washing machine and clothes dryer is an incredible convenience. It sure beats going to the laundromat!

Of course, with homeownership comes routine maintenance. If you want to keep things working their best, free of mold and mildew, this includes cleaning the same appliances you use to do your laundry.

Because washers and dryers can be expensive to repair, it’s important to keep them well-maintained. Fortunately, cleaning a washing machine and dryer is a relatively easy task most homeowners can manage on their own.

Washing Machine: Basic & Deep Cleaning

Most modern washing machines have a self-clean function that can be run to save you the hassle of cleaning it yourself. How this feature works can vary from unit to unit, so be sure to check the owner’s manual before getting started.

Dedicated washing machine cleaners and deodorizing tablets are also available at your local grocery store or supermarket. These also have instructions directly on the packaging you can follow step by step. Some homeowners prefer them to the household cleaners recommended in this guide. However, they won’t clean your machine as deeply as you can.

If your clothes washer doesn’t have a self-clean function, or if you want to go a bit beyond that for a deeper clean, you can do it yourself using materials you likely already have at home.

What you’ll need to clean a washing machine:

  • Microfiber Cloth
  • Mild Detergent
  • Bleach or Vinegar
  • Water
  • Bucket or Basin

Step 1: Basic Cleaning

Cleaning inside washing machine with blue microfiber cloth. | SHW Blog

Start by wiping out the interior of the machine with a damp cloth, removing any dust, dirt, and debris. If your washer is particularly dingy, use a cleaning solution of vinegar and water to wipe it down. Typically, the recommended mixture is a cup of vinegar for every gallon of water.

While you’re at it, wipe off the rest of the unit, as well. This includes the door, gaskets, detergent trays, and the machine’s exterior (top, front, and sides).

Note that some parts, such as detergent and softener trays, may be removable. Again, this varies from machine to machine. Check your owner’s manual if you’re not sure whether something can be taken apart for easier cleaning.

When cleaning a washing machine, some people prefer to use bleach. It’s a powerful alternative to vinegar. However, you must never mix bleach and vinegar. This can be dangerous and even deadly.

Step 2: Deep Cleaning

Next, it’s time to deep clean your washing machine.

Cleaning the tub is easy. First, make sure it’s completely empty and dried out.

Next, add your cleaner of choice. While there are plenty of options for cleaning your washing machine, we’re going to focus on the two most popular household cleaners most people have already: vinegar and bleach. They’re great options for sanitizing your washer and eliminating bad smells.

Vinegar in washing machine detergent tray. | SHW Blog

  1. Set your washing machine to the normal cycle, using hot water and an extra rinse.
  2. Add bleach* or vinegar (only one; never both) to the detergent dispenser. Use about half a cup.
  3. Run the washer normally.
  4. Leave the door open after cleaning to ensure it dries completely.
  5. Run multiple cleaning cycles if necessary.

* Note: If cleaning with bleach, add some to the bleach reservoir during this step, filling it completely. Do not add bleach to the bleach reservoir if using vinegar.

Clothes Dryer

Cleaning a clothes dryer is generally a bit simpler than cleaning a washing machine. Likewise, a clean dryer is well worth your time and effort.

What you’ll need to clean a clothes dryer:

  • Microfiber Cloth
  • Mild Detergent
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Bucket or Basin
  • Vacuum

Step 1: Exterior Cleaning

Using a mixture of vinegar and water, wipe down the exterior of the machine. If you prefer, you can use a mild dish detergent mixed with water. Use a separate soft cloth to dry it completely.

Next clean the dryer vent and check it for blockages. You can often remove debris caught in the lint trap by hand. This is usually found outside your home where the vent releases exhaust.

Step 2: Lint Filter

Cleaning clothes dryer lint filter. | SHW Blog

Open the door and remove the lint filter (aka, lint screen) from the dryer. Clear all lint from the filter before washing it with a mild detergent and water. Allow it to dry completely.

While you wait for the lint screen to dry, take the opportunity to vacuum out the lint trap in the dryer itself. This is best done using a vacuum with an extension hose and brush or crevice attachments.

Step 3: Interior Cleaning

Wipe down the interior dryer drum using a mixture of vinegar and water. Alternatively, you can use a mixture of mild dish soap and water to clean the drum.

After you’ve cleaned the inside of the dryer, run a “tumble” cycle with a load of clean towels to dry it quickly.

Avoid the hassle of unexpected washer and dryer breakdowns with a home warranty!

With a clean washer and dryer, you’re back in business! However, if you really want to ensure you get the most out of your household appliances, a home warranty is for you.

Home warranty plans help cover the costs of repair and replacement if your washing machine, dryer, or other household appliances fail. You can even cover your home systems, including HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and more!

Learn more about what’s covered by a home warranty.

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