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The Ultimate Guide To Deep Cleaning Your Washing Machine

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A washing machine is an indispensable household appliance that allows us to have clean and fresh clothing. However, just like any other appliance, it requires regular maintenance and cleaning to function optimally. A dirty or neglected washing machine can harbor bacteria, mold, and unpleasant odors that can transfer to your clothes, leaving them smelling moldy. Worse yet, built-up residue and grime can cause costly breakdowns or premature wear and tear on your machine.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through a thoroughly written cleaning process to get your washing machine sparkling clean and running like new again. By following these steps, you’ll not only improve the cleanliness and freshness of your laundry but also extend the lifespan of your appliance.

Gathering Your Supplies

Before we can begin, we must first have the following supplies ready:

  • Washing machine cleaning detergent (or a natural alternative such as a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar)
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Old towels or cleaning rags
  • Toothbrush or small scrubbing brush
  • Vacuum cleaner with hose attachment
  • Rubber cleaning gloves (optional)

Preparing The Washing machine

Start by checking the inside of the drum and remove any clothes and loose debris. Next, open up the detergent dispenser and use a toothpick or paperclip to clear any dried detergent or fabric softener residue from the compartments and feed tubes.

If your model has a removal detergent tray, take it out and let it soak in warm, soapy water to help loosen up gunk. For front-loaders, remember to check under the tray as well for any accumulated grime that needs scrubbing.

Cleaning The Tub and Drum

The tub and inner drum are obviously the washing machine’s dirtiest areas that need the most attention. There are two main cleaning methods:

1. Use A Washing Machine Cleaner

Follow the product instructions, but typically you’ll let the cleaning solution circulate through a normal hot water cycle. Once finished, wipe down the tub walls and drum with a microfiber cloth.

2. Go Natural with Vinegar and Baking Soda

Run an empty hot cycle about halfway, then stop the machine and let it sit for an hour with one cup of white vinegar added to loosen grime. Drain and add 1/2 cup of baking soda, letting it sit for 30 minutes before restarting the cycle to scrub the interior.

Whichever method you use, once the cycle is over, give the tub and drum a final wipe down with microfiber cloth. For tough stains or mineral deposits, make a baking soda paste and use a non scratch scrub sponge.

De-gunk the Door Gasket and Glass

The rubber door gasket is a prime area for mold, mildew and foul odours to accumulate, especially on front-load washing machines. Use an old toothbrush dipped in vinegar to scrub away any visible grime buildup around the gasket folds. Pull back the gasket and inspect the area underneath as well.

For the glass door itself, spray a 1:1 solution of white vinegar and water, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then wipe clean with a microfiber cloth. The vinegar will help dissolve any soap scum or hard water stains on the glass.

Don’t forget the soap dispensers! Remove any detergent cups and use a small brush to clean out detergent residue buildup.

Vacuum Out the Exhaust Vent and Coin Trap

Lint, hair and other debris can get trapped in the exhaust vent and coin trap areas over time. For the exhaust vent, first unplug the washing machine and locate the vent housing – it may be on the top or sides of the unit. Use your vacuum’s crevice tool to suck out any lint or debris clinging to the vent housing interior.

Next, for the top-loaders with a removable top panel, take off the panel and vacuum out the coin trap area underneath where larger debris and items can collect. For front-loaders, you’ll need to remove the kick plate at the bottom front to access and vacuum out the coin trap.

Wipe Down the Exterior

With the interior clean, it’s time to tidy up the outside of your washing machine. Start by mixing up a solution of warm water and a few drops of mild dish soap. Dampen a microfiber cloth and wipe down the machine’s outer panels, knobs, lid and other surfaces to remove any built-up grime or residue.

Avoid using harsh scrub pads which can scratch or dull the finish. For stubborn stains, make a baking soda paste with a few drops of water and use a soft sponge or cloth to gently rub the area clean. Dry everything off with a clean towel when finished.

Remove Musty Odors

If you still notice persistent musty or mildew smells, it’s time to deodorize the washing machine’s interior. Odor causes range from bacteria buildup and mold to residual moisture getting trapped.

To eliminate funky smells naturally, pour 1-2 cups of white distilled vinegar into the detergent dispenser and run a normal hot cycle. The vinegar will kill odor-causing bacteria and mildew.

Alternatively, you can toss a couple of cleaning rags or old towels into the machine along with 1/2 cup of baking soda. Run a hot cycle to allow the baking soda to absorb and neutralize musty odors.

Maintenance Tips

To keep your washing machine running smoothly and minimize future buildup between deep cleanings:

  • Leave the door/lid open after each wash to allow moisture to escape and the drum to dry out completely. This prevents mold and mildew growth.
  • Remove wet laundry promptly after cycles finish. Letting it sit allows dampness and odors to linger.
  • Use only the recommended amounts of detergent to avoid excessive suds buildup.
  • Once monthly, run a cleaning cycle with washing machine cleaner or vinegar only – no laundry.
  • Check gaskets and dispensers monthly for any debris or detergent buildup that needs clearing.

By following this complete top-to-bottom cleaning regimen, you can ensure your washing machine stays spotlessly clean, fresh-smelling and functions at peak efficiency for years to come. A little tender loving care goes a long way toward extending the appliance’s lifespan and keeping your laundry looking and smelling its best!