Practical tips for washing and drying washers and dryers

Every now and then you need to clean the washing machines and dryers that do so much cleaning for you. Fortunately, it's easy to do — and these machines even help to clean themselves occasionally.

Practical tips for washing and drying washers and dryers

1. To clean washer & dryer exteriors

The most common spots are blotches of spilled laundry detergent, fabric softener or bleach.

  • They're all designed to respond best to warm water, so wipe them up with a cloth dipped in a solution of warm water and mild dishwashing liquid, which will get rid of dirt and dust, too.

2. To clean a washing machine's interior

  • Open the washing machine and wipe down the inside of the door using the same solution of warm water and mild dishwashing liquid on the cloth that you used on the exterior.
  • Use an old toothbrush to clean the crevices of the moulded frame around the door.
  • If you have a removable bleach dispenser cup, take it out to clean it. If it's built in, clean it as thoroughly as you can, using a pipe cleaner, if necessary.
  • The rest of the interior of your washing machine gets a pretty good cleaning every time you use it.

3. To get rid of a musty odour

  • You can easily cure it by wiping out the inside with baking soda, then running the machine through a wash cycle without any clothes in it.
  • Use the hottest temperature setting available and a medium or high water level.
  • While the washing machine is filling, pour in a bottle of white vinegar.
  • As a preventive measure, follow this routine once a year.

4. Cleaning a dryer

  • The first task is to clean the filter!
  • Dryers work by heating air, drawing it across your wet clothes to sop up the moisture, and pushing the soggy air outside through a vent.
  • The name of the game is air traffic control: if that airway gets clogged, your dryer can't do its job, and your power bill will skyrocket needlessly. So clean the filter before or after every load of clothes.

5. Cleaning a dryer filter

Most dryers have a removable filter made of metal or plastic.

  • Pull the filter out of the dryer, hold it over a garbage can, then scrape the little blanket of lint off the filter with your hand.
  • If some of the lint won't come free, take the filter to a sink and clean it in a solution of warm water and a squirt of mild dishwashing liquid.
  • If you discover crayon marks inside your dryer, run the dryer empty for five minutes to heat it up and soften up the marks.
  • Then wipe them away with a cloth dipped in a solution of water and dishwashing liquid.

6. Keep your dryer's duct clean

  • If you keep your dryer's filter clean but it still isn't as efficient as it used to be, the duct ushering the air outside may be blocked, if you have a ducted machine.
  • Detach the duct from the back of your dryer and clean it out. Do this once a year as a matter of habit.
  • Make sure the vent cover on the outside of your house is clean and in place. Replacements are available from home improvement stores. This will prevent rodents and birds from taking up residence in your vent and really slowing down the airflow.
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