5 natural ways to clean your washing machine
Washing machines have to be one of the greatest household inventions ever created. Just throw your laundry in, add some detergent, press the button, and a little while later you have clean clothes. But over time, our washing machines take quite a beating and end up needing a bit of care of their own. Years of dealing with filthy clothes and hard water can leave your machine smelling musty and also cause limescale buildup that can actually be harmful to it. So if your washing machine looks like it needs a little TLC, here are some tips on how to clean it with all natural household products...
1. The door
Starting from the first wash cycle, the inside of your washing machine is subjected to constant moisture and dampness. Even after the most intense spin cycle, the drum always retains a bit of water which can lead to mildew and limescale if the drum isn't able to dry. The best and easiest solution is to simply leave the machine door open between washes. The fresh air will help to dry things faster and prevent that nasty, musty mildew smell.
2. The door seal
The rubber seal around the washing machine drum acts like a catcher's mitt for things like coins, buttons, stones and other small things that end up in our pockets. If too much of these things end up in the rubber seal, it can overflow and the little objects end up rolling around in the drum during a wash. This not only creates annoying noise, it can also damage the drum and seal if it happens too often. The best solution is simply prevention — always check the pockets of your clothes before putting them in the laundry. To catch the objects that do sneak through, clean out the door seal after every wash and clean it thoroughly with household cleaner every few weeks. Drying the seal after every wash with a clean cloth can also help to keep it in tip top shape.
3. Detergent compartments
The various compartments on modern washing machines for detergent and fabric softener can often cause problems. Over time they tend to get clogged up with powdered detergent residue and they're another area where moisture gets trapped and can lead to mildew. The best solution is to completely remove it and clean it thoroughly after every few washes, paying close attention to the underside where mildew likes to hide from sight. When you do this, it's also important to clean the slot that the compartment slides into, which is another area where buildup can cause problems. A quick and easy way to clean the compartments? Remove them and run them through a dishwasher cycle to get them crystal clean.
4. Descale the inside
Leaving the door open will help to cut down on mildew and limescale, but it probably won't prevent it completely. That's why it's important to descale your machine regularly to make sure the drum and all the other interior parts that come into contact with water remain scale-free. This ensures a longer life for your machine.
The most effective descaler is lemon juice. Simply add around 7 or 8 tbsp to the drum and run a normal cycle — just with lemon juice, not with clothes and detergent! If you don't have any lemon juice handy, you can also use white vinegar. When using vinegar, you can simply add it to the fabric softener compartment during a hot wash — a temperature of around 200°F is recommended.
One more tip: The harder the water, the more often you should descale. For softer water, twice a year should be enough.
5. Drain filter
One of the main reasons washing machines break down is due to clogged drains. That's why it's extremely important to clean out the drain filter at least every two months. On most modern front-loaders, the drain can be found on the front at the bottom behind a small hatch, but it's always best to consult the user manual before fiddling around with anything on your particular washing machine. Before opening the drain, always have a good supply of very absorbent cloths on hand to soak up the water that comes out.
When you have removed the filter, remove as much lint and grime as possible with your fingers, then run it under warm water to remove all the finer particles. When you're done, dry it with a clean cloth and put it back in the machine making sure that the drain cap is screwed on tightly to prevent any leaking.
This procedure varies greatly depending on the make and model of your washing machine. But it's an important process that shouldn't be forgotten, especially if you have hairy pets that leave a lot of hair on your clothing. In this case, cleaning the filter more often is a good idea.
Our washing machines can be one of our best friends when we're trying to keep an entire household in clean clothes, so let's not neglect them. A few simple and natural cleaning procedures can keep that machine running well and doing its job for many years to come — all it takes is a little time and elbow grease!