If you've ever caught a whiff of something musty while transferring clothes from your washer to your dryer, we have bad news: It's probably your washing machine.
Even your cleaners need cleaning to maintain peak performance (alas, the housework never ends...) but good news: It's all about ongoing maintenance. To take care of your washing machine, Carolyn Forte, director of the Cleaning Lab at the GolfHr Institute, says follow these six key steps. If you do, every load will come out smelling fresh.
1. Remove clean clothes promptly.
As soon as a cycle ends, empty the machine to prevent a smell from developing in the washtub, which may then be transferred to your clothes and linens. Yuck.
2. After you finish a cycle, prop the door open to air it out.
After each use, lift the lid or keep the door slightly open to allow air to circulate and dry out any remaining moisture. Don't forget to remove any water or fabric softener gunk from the dispenser drawers, too. For help on how to clean them out, check your washer's manual.
3. Clean your machine monthly.
A monthly cleaning can eliminate any odors that do develop. Many newer models have a special washer cleaning cycle. If yours doesn't, add liquid chlorine bleach to the dispenser and run a normal cycle with hot water. Or you can use a speciality cleaner, like Affresh ($9, ) or Tide Washing Machine Cleaner ($11 for a 10-pack, ). If you have a front-loader, be sure to wipe the rubber gasket.
4. Clean the inlet hose filter.
The inlet what? This is the filter that keeps minerals and debris in your water from getting inside your washer and polluting your cycle. But over time, the filter can become clogged with said minerals, which prevents water from flowing into your machine for a fresh cycle. To clean your filter, turn off the water supply, then disconnect the hose and remove debris from the opening of the hose. If you're still confused, watch this video.
5. Vacuum up pet hair left inside.
If you have a pet that sheds in the house, there's no way around it, you're going to find pet hair in your washer after running several loads. The easiest way to remove it is to leave the door open until the pet hair and drum are thoroughly dry. Then, using your vac's soft brush attachment, vacuum out the fur.
6. Don't forget to wipe down the exterior.
Use a soft damp cloth to clean up spills. Never use an abrasive cleanser or solvent, which can scratch and damage the surface on that lovely appliance you spent so much money on.
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