Most families rely on a washing machine to keep them in a steady supply of clean clothes. Modern appliances are generally resilient and hard-wearing, but problems can still occur if you don't look after your machine. Follow these simple maintenance and cleaning tips, extend the life of your washing machine, and avoid unwanted appliance repair bills.
Check clothes thoroughly before you wash them
It's tempting to stuff a load of clothes into the washer without checking them, especially if you're in a hurry, but objects left in your clothes' pockets can quickly cause problems. Once the machine starts its spin cycle, loose coins and buttons can easily damage the drum or the washer's glass door, so remove them all before starting the washing cycle. A single coin hurtling around the machine can damage the inner drum or cause a leak that may cost a lot of money to repair.
Load the machine with the right amount of clothes
All washing machines have a maximum capacity, and you can damage the drum if you put too many garments in at once. Break up large loads into smaller, more manageable washes, making sure you always stay below the limit specified in the manufacturer's handbook for each cycle. Make sure there is always a gap of at least three to four inches between the top of the pile and the top of the machine, as this allows room for the water, once the cycle starts.
Clean out the detergent drawer
Many people forget to clean out the detergent drawer, but it's important to regularly remove and wash this part of the machine. If you use too much fabric softener, or add it too late in the cycle, deposits can build up and leave oily stains on your clothes. Excess detergent or softener in the machine can also damage the machine's delicate control panel. Remove the detergent drawer, wash it in hot, soapy water, and dry thoroughly before replacing.
Run a maintenance cycle
90 percent of the energy that your washing machine uses goes towards heating the water, so it's good for the environment to wash on a cooler cycle. That aside, it's still important to use an occasional hot wash, as this will keep the machine in good working order. A maintenance cycle is a great way to flush the system, and will keep your machine smelling fresh and clean.
To run this cycle, you should:
- Set the machine to the hottest possible cycle
- Add a gallon of white vinegar and no detergent
- Run the cycle without any clothes
Try to run a maintenance cycle at least once a month, or more often if you use your machine every day.
Empty the machine straight away
Try not to leave damp clothes in the machine after the wash cycle. Damp clothes can encourage mold to grow inside the machine, which will soon start to smell and can also damage the seal. Remove clothes from the machine as soon as the cycle finishes, placing them in a washing basket if you cannot hang them up straight away. You should also leave the washing machine door open between cycles, to allow the inside to dry properly.
Install a surge protector
A power surge can easily harm delicate electrical components inside your washing machine. You can buy surge protectors cheaply from most do-it-yourself stores, and these handy gadgets will cut off the power supply to your machine if there is a sudden increase in the flow of electricity. To further protect electrical components, unplug the washing machine when you are not using it.
Clean your lint filter
Your washing machine's lint filter catches and collects dirt, fluff and other objects, and prevents damage to the pump. On older machines, you can normally find the filter on the side of the tub or around the rim. Newer models may have the filter at the bottom of the machine, and, in both cases, you may have to unscrew the filter to clean it. Remove debris and objects at least once a month, to make sure the filter doesn't clog up.
Few things are more annoying than a broken-down washing machine. A basic maintenance and cleaning routine can dramatically extend the life of your washing machine, and can also save money on unexpected appliance repairs. Click for more information from one source about how to protect your washing machine.