It's finally spring! Time to wash the walls, dust high areas, wipe kitchen cupboards and whatever else you don't normally clean. You'll want to wash curtains, blankets, winter coats, hats and mittens before storing them away. But not so fast! If you haven't cleaned your washing machine recently you'll want to do that before you get started on your 'spring cleaning laundry'. Otherwise you could end up transferring mold and mildew spores onto your blankets and coats. Not cleaning the washing machine is like taking a bath in a grimy tub.
How to clean a front-load HE Washing Machine
The environmental benefit of these washing machines do require a little more care and attention as they're more prone to grime buildup, simply because they use less water.
Cleaning the Flexible Gasket
First, unplug the electrical power cord to prevent electrical shock hazard. The flexible gasket is one of the most important areas to keep clean. A clean gasket ensures a water tight seal. I like to use a vinegar-based cleaner in a spray bottle for softening and removing any dirt buildup and scum. Lightly bend back the folds so you can see the areas that need to be cleaned.
At the top of the gasket you'll only be able to feel any buildup. After having sprayed all of these awkward areas, wait about five to ten minutes before wiping away the dirt with a microfiber cloth. Rinse out the cloth well with warm water and wipe again. Then dry the entire gasket with a towel.
Cleaning the Door Glass and Exterior
Thoroughly spray the vinegar-based cleaner on the inside of the door glass, wipe with the cloth and water, repeat, and dry. A clean door also helps prevent any leaks. I have to admit learning the hard way when I first got my front-loading machine: I didn't keep the door glass clean and ended up with a small amount of water leaking out of the machine during the wash. Next, also clean and wipe the door opening and the exterior of the machine.
Cleaning the Dispenser Drawer Area
Remove the dispenser drawer. Be sure to follow the instructions in your machine's instruction manual; don't just pull it out. Remove any inserts and soak the whole thing in a bucket of warm water and vinegar. Use an old toothbrush to remove any product buildup. Rinse with water. Dry well with a towel.
Carefully clean and wipe the drawer opening with a cloth and a small brush. Then put back the drawer. Once all these areas are clean and dry plug the electrical cord back in.
Cleaning the Washing Drum
1. Get your washing machine manual out and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Newer machines will have a System Clean cycle and will automatically prompt you to clean the machine. On my machine that is every 50 washes.
2. Remove any clothing from the drum.
3. Put 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide in the dispenser. You could use bleach instead in the bleach dispenser if you have found any mold in your machine. Alternatively, use a commercial washing machine cleaner. During my most recent cleaning I used Glisten Machine Magic with favorable results. DO NOT MIX any cleaning products you decide to use to prevent any dangerous chemical reactions and toxic fumes.
4. Run the washing machine cleaning cycle. If your machine doesn't have a system cleaning cycle use a regular cycle with hot water and double rinse.
Voilà - now your machine is ready for all that heavy duty spring cleaning!
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