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How to Clean Your Washer and Dryer

When you’re considering the layout and functionality of your laundry room, you may be so focused on getting the right storage and organization in there that you don’t think about the washer and dryer themselves. Learning how to clean a washer and how to clean a dryer will go a long way toward extending the life of these products and ensuring they run efficiently every time you use them. Continue reading to find out how.

Woman doing laundry

Table of Contents

Why Cleaning the Washer and Dryer Is Important

There are several reasons why cleaning the washing machine and dryer are important. Detergents leave deposits of chemicals and minerals on the drum of the machine. This can create a film that attracts bacteria, which can cause clogs that make the washer work less efficiently.

Cleaning dryers prevents clogs that can be extremely dangerous. At best, the accumulation of lint, dust, and fibers in the mechanisms of your dryer may cause it to run more slowly, thus increasing the time of each load and boosting monthly energy bills. At worst, these clogs can create a fire hazard that puts your entire home at risk. In fact, the U.S. Fire Administration reports that 2,900 house fires are caused annually because of malfunctioning dryers, which result in five fatalities and 100 injuries, as well as $35 million in property damage each year. 

Cleaning your appliances and having them covered by a home warranty are a great way to ensure you are both extending their longevity and budgeting for an eventual replacement.

How Often Should You Clean Your Washer and Dryer?

If you use your washer frequently, you should clean it weekly or bi-weekly. If you don’t use the appliance as often, you can clean it once a month. 

When it comes to dryers, different parts need to be cleaned at different times. The filters should be cleaned every time you use the machine in order to clear lint. Similarly, to ensure that lint doesn’t cause your dryer to malfunction, you should clean the vent ducts annually. Some ducts may have a short and easy exit out of the house, in which case they can be cleaned less often. Some may have more complicated exits up through a ceiling, in which case they may need to be cleaned more often. An experienced technician can tell you what your dryer’s ideal cleaning schedule should be. The only part that doesn’t need regular cleaning is the drum, which can be wiped with a cloth if you wash something particularly gritty or filled with hair. 

How to Clean a Washer

To clean a washing machine, add a significant amount of hot water to the drum (it should be about as much water as the machine would typically use during a wash cycle) and a quart of bleach. Let it sit for an hour. After doing this, run the machine through an entire cycle. When the cycle is done, fill the drum with hot water again and add two cups of distilled white vinegar. Let the water and vinegar sit and then run the machine through another full cycle. Afterwards, wipe down the exteriors of the washer with an all-purpose cleaner or solution of vinegar and water. Scrub the rubber seals and gaskets to remove mold and mildew, as well as the outer crevices of the machine. 

How to Clean a Dryer

Every time you use your dryer, clear the filter of the lint trapped inside. Your job doesn’t end there, however. To ensure there’s nothing left, run water through the lint trap, and if it has a difficult time going through, wash the screen in soapy water with a brush. 

To clean the drum, spray the inside with one part water and one part vinegar. Wipe it down with a cloth. Leave the dryer open so the drum can completely dry.

When cleaning the vent, you should first unplug the dryer and remove the plastic cover. Look inside to see if there is any lint or other debris. You can remove the lint by grabbing it with a brush that has an extendable wand. Brushes specifically to clean out dryer vents are available online and in many home improvement stores. Also, you can suck out the lint using the hose attachment of your vacuum cleaner or blow it out with an air compressor. After you’ve removed everything, vacuum it up and reconnect the dryer. 

The exterior of the dryer can be cleaned using an all-purpose cleaner and cloth. Just wipe down the top and all sides of the dryer.  

Even though regular cleaning can help your washer and dryer run efficiently, there will come a time when you’ll need to have it maintained or replaced. And when you do, you want a skilled professional available to do the job.

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