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Do you ever sit on your couch, sipping red wine and think how much easier we have it today in terms of cleaning and maintaining our household? Do you ever feel grateful that you have your trusty washing machine and dryer and you were born in an age of innovation where everything is made so much easier for our hectic everyday life? I do. It hasn’t been 100 years since the invention of the automatic washing machines in 1937, and they have already turned our lives to better.

Our lovely washing machine helps and saves us time and effort; however, to keep it effectively working for longer, we need to give back love and care. You need to clean it regularly and avoid disgusting smell and bacteria to develop because they will spread all over your clothes next time you run a cycle. Here is how you can do it.

How to clean your washing machine from top to bottom

Clean the washing machine filter

The filter is where all the gunk is collected after every cycle. If you threw a pair of pants with coins in the pocket, the pennies might end up in your filter. With time, small and big chunks of dirt build-up and this worsens the performance of the washing machine. You are washing your clothes in dirty water and bacteria is only circulating. You have to be extremely careful when you decide to clean your filter. It is a MUST to unplug it from the electricity and to stop the water supply, so you don’t create a murder bath for yourself.

Locate your filter

For the front-loads washing machines the filter is located somewhere at the bottom, usually in the right corner. Don’t just push and pull, find your user manual, and read how to get to the filter without breaking any parts.

Place a towel on the floor and remove your filter

The filter should be easy to take out. It may have a screw-type mechanism, where you will need to turn it clockwise so you can unlock it. It is different for every machine. That’s why you need to be careful. It might get stuck but don’t force it out, move it around carefully until it finds its way out. In some machines, the drain hose may be located in front of the filter. First, remove the hose and then take out the filter. What you will see is accumulated lint and detergent. I know, it isn’t the nicest thing to look at, but the more often you do it, the less material will gather.

Clean the filter of the washing machine

Take a paper towel and remove the built-up lint. Take off as much as you can, and if you find it hard to clean it only with a paper towel, you can scrub it off using an old toothbrush or a sponge. The filter has a screen that gathers all this gunk. You should remove it, and soak it in hot water to get out any dirt that may have stick to it. This process will soften and dissolve the detergent and the lint that you couldn’t get only with the paper towel. However, some filter screens are not removable, so let it sit under running hot water.

Check inside before you put back the filter for any excess dirt

Take a paper towel again and trace the sides of the opening. Doing so will remove whatever is left inside, you can scrub it away also by using an old toothbrush. As I have mentioned before, if the drainage hose was in front of the filter, try to squeeze out any dirt out of it too.

Place everything back together

Put the filter back in its place. If it had a screw mechanism, make sure you lock it in, so there are no leakages or problems with the machine later. Place back the drainage hose (if it located in front of the filter), and then place back the cover of the filter. And voila, one part is done!

Don’t underestimate the maintenance of the filter. It is advisable to do it every three or four months to ensure the best performance of your washing machine. Hey, we don’t want to lose our little helper at home.

How to fix a smelly washing machine

Everyone single one of us has faced this situation. If you hadn’t, you wouldn’t read this, right? You open the door of the machine after a cycle to get out the clothes, and this pungent mouldy smell hits your nose, and you are thinking “How am I going to wear this?”. Can you imagine dressing your new-born baby in the mould? It’s unimaginable! Don’t worry, there is no need to throw your washing machine, not just yet. Try these steps below first, they are cheap and deserve a shot before you spend hundreds of pounds on a new machine.

Mould in the washing machine’s drawer

Start from the drawer. If you clean every other part, the next time you run your cycle, the mould that has been building up there will spread again in the tub and your clothes. Take out the drawer, usually, to do so you pull it out until the end, then lift it, so it gets detached. Check your manual if this doesn’t work, some machines have a clicker you need to push so you can detach the drawer. When you take it out, scrub it well, you can even put it on the top drawer of your dishwasher. If you decide to do it by hand, take a sponge and scrub it under running hot water. Let it dry and put it back. To make sure you have removed any dirt and kill the mould prepare a mixture of equal parts baking soda and water. Don’t make it too much, 50ml of each is enough. Put the solution in the detergent section. Then run a regular cycle.

Get rid of the smell in the drum of the washing machine with vinegar

You can combine the above mixture of soda and water with cleaning your drum at the same time. Again, pour the solution of bicarbonate and water in the drawer, then place roughly half a litre of distilled white vinegar in the drum of the machine (make sure the drum is empty, and there aren’t any clothes there). Run a hot cycle; the soda from the drawer will flow down in the drum during the cycle. The mixing of vinegar and soda will cause a reaction that will eat away any mould or lint in your washing machine. After the cycle has ended, you should be left with a clean and fresh smelling machine. If not, repeat the cycle.

Utilise bleach in cleaning your washing machine

You can use bleach to clean the inside of the machine too. You must be very careful because excessive amounts of bleach can damage the washing machine. Pour half a cup in the dispenser and run a hot cycle on an empty machine. This should get rid of any smell and dirt. Some modern washing machines have a so-called “maintenance cycle” programmed for precisely this purpose. You can also put bleach directly into the drum. Pout one cup of bleach and run a hot cycle to sterilise the insides.

Clean the seal of the washing machine

In the crevasses of the seal is where a lot of dirt and grime hides. Take a damped cloth and run your fingers carefully along the rubber to clean it. If you can remove it, do so, and wash it under water. Mould can easily grow there because this is the place that holds moisture for the longest so we shouldn’t undermine it. It can offset all our cleaning once we run a cycle and it can spread out sickening smell again.

Outside cleaning and maintenance

Leave the door open

This step might seem unnecessary and stupid for you, but the difference it makes is enormous. When you don’t leave the door open after a cycle, the moist inside condenses and creates a perfect environment for mould to grow. And you again end up with a smelly washing machine. The moment the cycle is done, take out your clothes out of the machine. You can go over the drum with a dry cloth to get rid of access droplets. Don’t leave it just ajar, make sure to leave it wide open until the moisture evaporates, not more than an hour or two so you can enjoy your smell-free washing machine.

Clean the exterior

The machine gets dusty, and it starts looking old and yellowish with time. But we can maintain its shine if we wipe it regularly. You will need dry clean cloth or rug and your regular all-purpose cleaner. Go over the whole exterior, rubbing where necessary to get rid of fingerprints and dried up marks. You can also use vinegar. Mix in a spray bottle some vinegar and water and spray the whole machine. Make sure to unplug it before you do so. We have to be cautious after all. Go over with a rug and remove the dust and the marks. Also, you can damp cloth with vinegar instead of spraying it over the machine. Whatever works for you best, they are all good and useful options.

Clean the window

First, go over the window with a dry rack to get off the excessive dust if any. Then take your favourite mirror or glass detergent and spray it onto the glass. Wipe with a dry cloth or a paper towel in circular motions.

Products matter

All those steps should make your machine as new from the outside and the inside. Perform them regularly, and your clothes will be clean and fresh after every cycle. However, what you wash your clothes with has vital importance on how dirty your machine will get. Always employ high-quality detergents, it is advisable they are eco-friendly and don’t have any hard chemicals. In that way, you are not harming your skin and your machine. Of course, they are a bit more expensive, but when it comes to health, nobody can put a price on it. And also, we are not investing in a new machine every 4 or 5 years or so.

Try to avoid fabric softeners, because they are petroleum-based. It means that they contain oil that is harmful not only for your machine but also for the environment. Plus, it creates a better environment for the mould to grow in your washing machine. Buy eco-friendly fabric softeners from bio shops or make one yourself. There are plenty of recipes out there, but most of them contain only two ingredients: vinegar and essential oil of your choice. By employing eco-friendly materials, you are not only saving the planet, taking care of your skin, but also prolonging the life of your machine and because eco-friendly detergents don’t build up, you don’t need to clean as often.

Yes, it may be time-consuming to perform a cleaning routine on your washing machine, but the more often you do it, the less dirt will build up, thus less work for you. You will enjoy fresh clothes, that will smell amazing and won’t irritate your skin. We live in a futuristic world, and as everyone out there I also hope someone will invent the self-cleaning washing machine. Until then we will have to give it a little push from our side.

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