7 Ways to Care for Your Washing Machine

By Jen Jafarzadeh L'Italien | Houzz.com

Keep your laundry room and clothes in great shape with these basic washing machine tips.

Your washing machine needs some love. Think about what this machine does for you: It cleans a hamper's worth of dirty clothes in less than an hour and magically removes all kinds of stains without scrubbing - day in and day out. Like any appliance, you need to clean and care for your washing machine to keep it running smoothly. A little bit of upkeep goes a long way, so here are a few simple tricks to try.

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1. Deep cleaning. Do you feel like your clothes are not coming out as clean as they should? Or do you detect an odor inside your washing machine? Then it's time for a deep clean. I like to use The Laundress Machine Cleaner once a month to clean out my washer - and I've noticed it cleans better when I do. You'll want to run an empty cycle on hot wash with your machine cleaner - or simply laundry detergent.

You can make your own DIY washing-machine cleaner. If you feel like your washing machine needs sanitizing, make a solution of 3/4 cup of bleach and 1 tablespoon of powdered laundry detergent. Let the solution run through a soak cycle of your machine, and then run a rinse cycle to remove the bleach and clear it out.

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2. Keep the door open. Here's a big one you may not know. You're supposed to leave the lid or door to the washing machine open after every load. Why? Keeping the door open allows the moisture inside the drum of the washing machine to evaporate.

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3. Clean spills. I've been guilty of this mistake. If you spill anything on your washer, you should wipe it away with a damp soft cloth right away - don't let the spill sit for long.

What's the problem (besides a dried spill being harder to clean)? Most washer tops are made of porcelain enamel or a synthetic enamel. This finish can be damaged by exposure to solutions like ammonia, chlorine bleach or any abrasive cleaners.

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4. Protect the finish. If you use the top of your washing machine as a work surface, lay a folded towel on top to protect its finish.This is especially helpful when you treat stains, since stain removers can make the top of the washing machine sticky. The baked enamel finish on washers can also scratch easily. Keep any sharp tools (such as scissors) safely away.

Keep any liquids away from the control panel. Liquid detergents and stain removers can damage the finish.

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5. Wipe it down - inside and out. I've been rather neglectful of my washing machine and noticed that it's getting a sticky residue from small detergent spills. It's important to wipe down the outside of your washing machine about once a week, just as you would any other surface in your home. The best solution is a mild dishwashing liquid (which can cut grease) and water.

Don't forget the inside of your washer! You should periodically wipe down theinside drum of the machine with a damp cloth. It's easy for lint, dirt or soapy residue to build up inside.

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6. Clean the fabric softener dispenser. Follow the product manual instructions for cleaning the fabric softener dispenser. Avoid using detergent to clean the dispenser.

7. Keep an eye on the hoses connected to your washing machine. You want to be sure they don't become bent. If your washing machine is older, it may be time to replace those hoses (which should be replaced every five years.) A leak in your washing machine hose can cause a flood in your home.

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