How clean is the inside of your washing machine? You might be surprised to know that even though your machine runs regularly with detergent, bleach and hot water, it still may be very likely that it's covered with residue left behind by detergent, fabric softener and items such as lip balms that went through the wash. Hard water leaves damaging mineral deposits inside the machine, as well.
To ensure the cleanest clothes, towels and blankets possible and extend the life of your machine and its parts, be sure to clean the inside of your washing machine regularly.
*Using Washing Machine Cleaner Products
A variety of professional-grade cleaning solutions are available in your supermarket and in home improvement stores. Tide washing machine cleaner, for instance, is formulated to fight odor-causing residues and remove hard-water minerals when run through your machine, of course without any clothing or items in the washer.
Sears washing machine maintenance professionals often suggest specialized washing machine cleaning products. Washer Magic is one such product that, when run through an empty cycle on the hottest water temperature possible, removes buildup, lime, rust and odor-causing particles. This solution may also be used manually (Be sure to wear gloves for safety!) to clean the rubber seal around the door and detergent drawers, two places where a tremendous amount of ugly, gray, germy buildup accumulates and may even stain your clothing if left untreated over time.
Most products are recommended for use once a month or more frequently if you have hard water.
*Using Household Products To Clean Your Washer Machine
For a top-loading clothes washer, set your load size indicator to large and the water temperature to its hottest setting. Begin a regular wash cycle, and when the tub is filled with water, pour in 2 cups to a gallon of distilled white vinegar, close the lid and allow your washer to complete its normal wash cycle. That may be the only step you need, since the vinegar cleans the inside of your tub, the interior mechanisms and the pipes as it drains away.
If you see any remaining spots, moisten a paper towel with white vinegar and scrub the spot away. Since the machine will still be warm from the recent load, scrubbing is often easier.
If you wish, run your washer again with clean, hot water to remove any remaining vinegar smell before doing clothing loads.
Front-loading washing machines can often experience musty smells caused by mold found inside the door gasket. Since these energy-efficient machines use less water, it's important to clean them in two steps. First, run a long wash cycle with the hottest water setting possible and one cup of white vinegar to give an all-over wash through the machine and its pipe system. Next, soak a soft cloth in a 50-50 mix of water and white vinegar, and use that to wipe down the door gaskets, seals and door interior.
The inside flap of your door seal is where you'll see the greatest amount of gray-brown gunk that will be wiped away with this essential, manual wipe-down. Washing machine technicians warn that socks and other small items can sometimes get caught in this space and decompose -- adding to mold and odors -- so check this space after each wash.
Rinse the door gaskets and seals after cleaning with the vinegar solution; then wipe them dry.
*Cleaning Detergent Drawers
Remove these drawers and their cups, and wash them thoroughly by hand using hot water and a vinegar solution to remove all residue and molds. Always read your machine's manual for specific do's and don'ts about cleaning the elements of your machine, so that you don't damage any parts that would then need repairing or replacing.
If odors and stains remain after you've taken these steps, contact the manufacturer to schedule a repairman to give your machine an upgraded cleaning and checkup.