The Things We've Forgotten [To Clean] PT 5: The Washing Machine


Clean That Washing Machine
It's amazing how a little bit of sunshine motivates.  The second the days start to get longer and the sun starts to take on a rosier glow, people start thinking about polishing up the caves they've been hibernating in for the past three months.  It's a lovely time of hope, expectation and window cleaner.  

But all that cleaning CAN be overwhelming. Especially if you want to do a deep, deep clean (and if you have, you know, a life). 

So while we make plans for that all-inclusive spring cleaning spree, lighten the load by picking one overlooked item a day to knock off your list. 

Overlooked Item of the Day:

The Washing Machine

Over the past few months of living in our townhome, I had begun to notice A Smell coming from somewhere in the basement.  Nothing horrible. Not like something crawled in there and died. Just a slightly mildewy aroma that wafts if you walk through quickly.  A brief investigation revealed (to my mild horror) that it was, in fact, the washing machine.

Dirty Washing Machine First thing was first: Like any normal crazy person, I required all of my friends to sniff me and tell me whether or not I, too, had started to smell like I'd been left out in the rain for a few days.  (I was assured that I did not, and that, if I had, they would have immediately forced me to shower, clothes and all.  Good friends are invaluable.)

My pride still intact (as much as it ever is), I turned my attention to the source of the problem. The machine.

As we rent, I have no idea how old the machine is.  And though the community takes very good care of most things, I somehow doubt that the washing machines get cleaned between tenants.  Needless to say: It's time.

Tools Needed:

Cleaning Supplies 1-1.5 quarts (4-6 c.) White Vinegar 
Dish soap
All Purpose Cleaner 
Toothbrush or cotton swabs
Magic Eraser

Okay, Let's Do This.

1.  Safety First: Unplug your washing machine.  You can't be too careful.

2.  Let's play Find the Filters!  Thought it was just your Dryer that had these? Nope!  You may need to look up online to see where it's located on your model. For mine, there are two filters located inside the drum.  A quick glance (or whiff) and it was easy enough to see that they had possibly NEVER been cleaned before.  Ever.  Amazingly disgusting.
Dirty Washing Machine Filters
So. Freaking. Gross.

Remove any gross build up in the filters (which is an IMMEDIATE improvement in the smell), and drop the filters themselves into a sink full of hot soapy water. Allow to soak for fifteen minutes. 

3.  Wipe down the inside.  Use a wet rag with a bit of white vinegar or cleaning solution with bleach to wipe down the place where the filters are seated, as well as the interior drum of the machine.  Clean any dispensers, making sure to get all crevices and cracks. An old toothbrush or a cotton swab dipped in cleaning solution helps.  Clean around all gaskets.  These rubber spots are a prime place for mildew build up. 

4. Replace the filters, after making sure that they're as clean as you can possibly get them.

5. Plug in your washing machine.   (It's much harder for things to get clean without power.)

6.  **Fill your washing machine to the max with hot water, and add 4-6 c. white vinegar.  Let water agitate for a minute or two after filling, and then stop machine and allow to soak for 45 minutes to an hour.  

7.  Meanwhile, use this time, to give the outside a good wipe down.  If you have any tough marks that you can't seem to scrub off, try using a Magic Eraser.

8. After the water and vinegar has stood for 45 minutes to an hour, run the washer on the longest, hottest wash and rinse cycle.

9.  Once the cycle is complete, and the washer is drained and empty,  run a hot cycle one more time to make sure everything is rinsed completely out.

There. Doesn't that smell better? 

Want more? Check out the rest of the Forgotten to Clean Series and learn how to clean your Iron, Dishwasher, Knife Block and Coffee Maker

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