Washing machines provide homeowners with endless utility. The ability to wash everything from clothes to bedding at home with minimal effort is life-changing. But most don’t realize there is a laundry list of washing machine maintenance boxes to check. Failing to properly maintain your washing machine can result in expensive repairs and a shorter life overall for your appliance. Certain problems such as hose malfunctions can also result in water damage to areas of your home surrounding the washer.
That said, much of washing machine maintenance boils down to proper usage of the appliance and some regular cleaning and checking of its important features. Let’s get into eight easy washing machine care tips to keep yours operating safely and effectively.
1. Check the hoses
Water damage in homes is often caused by the washing machine leaking. When the washer is the culprit, that leak can frequently be traced to the hoses. The wear and tear of regular use cause traditional rubber hoses to lose flexibility over time, and water will ultimately win that battle. You should check your hoses for cracks, blistering, or kinks every few months to confirm that none of these warning signs have developed. If they have, it’s recommended that you replace the hose. Even if your hoses remain in good shape, you should still replace them every five years or so.1
2. Clean the lint filter
A clean washer filter is essential for a well-functioning washer! Most homeowners are familiar with the lint traps in their dryers and regularly clean them out in between cycles, but did you know your washer may have a lint filter too? Newer, high-efficiency models have self-cleaning pump filters for getting rid of lint, however, many washers have lint traps for filtering the general debris that comes out of clothes and other fabrics mid-wash. If your washer has a filter, you should check and clean it at least four times per year to ensure that debris doesn’t build up and cause mildew.2
3. Don’t overload the washer
Just a few more shirts, what could go wrong? Plenty! Overloading the washer is a common mistake many homeowners make with their washers. Oversized
loads add pressure that can throw the machine off balance mid-cycle and cause damage to various parts. Just remember: you can always do another load after this one!
4. Leave the washer door open after use
The inside of your washing machine doesn’t dry immediately after the cycle finishes. Moisture lingers for a while after you remove the load and closing the washer door can cause it to stick around even longer, eventually causing mold and mildew. Always leave your washer door open for at least 15-30 minutes after using it to help air circulate and dry the inside. You can also wipe down the gasket or rubber seal around the washer door to accelerate the process.
5. Use recommended laundry detergent
The detergent you use matters. Always check your washer’s manual to see which kinds of detergent are recommended. Detergents that are too heavy in alkaline can damage the machine and any clothes or other fabrics you load it with. This is particularly important with high-efficiency models. Powdered or high-efficiency detergent can be used with these models to minimize residue build-up. Using high-efficiency detergent can also save energy since less water is required to wash it away.2
6. Clean the washer
Even a washing machine needs to be cleaned sometimes to remove detergent residue, dirt, soap scum, and hard water build-up.3 Luckily, DIY solutions of white vinegar and baking soda can be used on most washers. Simply run a cycle on hot with the solution or use a self-cleaning cycle if your model has the option. This solution can be used as high efficiency washer cleaner as well.
7. Clean the drain pump filter
If you notice your washer having trouble draining, it’s time to have a look at your drain pump filter. Debris can build up in the filter and cause the drain pump to clog, preventing your washer from draining properly between cycles. You can typically find the filter on the front of your machine, either in plain sight or behind a kick-strip.5 Simply unscrew and pull it out to clean.
8. Keep your washing machine level
Keeping your washing machine on an uneven surface can unbalance it, causing it to rock and vibrate. In addition to being very loud, this can also damage various parts of your washer. Make sure that your machine is on a level surface, with all four legs firmly planted on the floor.
It’s easy to forget that the things we use to clean also need to be cleaned themselves from time to time. But if left unchecked, appliances like your washing machine and dryer can quickly go from a beloved appliance to an expensive repair. It’s best to take maintenance measures first, but when hoses burst or machines start causing unexpected damage to your home, it’s important to have homeowner’s insurance. Learn what coverage a homeowner’s policy provides against water-related damage.
1https://www.tlcplumbing.com/blog/preventing-washing-machine-hoses-bursting/, Accessed July 2021
2https://www.consumerreports.org/laundry/energy-saving-laundry-tips/, Accessed July 2021
3https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-clean-a-washer-lint-trap-2147322, Accessed July 2021
4https://simplegreen.com/cleaning-tips/rooms/laundry/high-efficiency-washing-machine/, Accessed July 2021
5https://www.ariel.in/en-in/washing-machine-101/how-to-use-a-washer/how-do-i-check-pump-filter, Accessed July 2021
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