How to REALLY clean your washer

Until a few years ago, cleaning your washer seemed like a ridiculous idea. I mean, you put soap in there every time you use it, right? What could be cleaner than soap? Well, they’ve changed that soap, my friends. It no longer contains phosphates and thus has become a detriment to our washers.

Thanks to a lack of phosphates, your washer can develop a large scum build-up in a short time. The laundry soap that used to work so well and wash out so cleanly now leaves a residue behind. You can fix this on a daily basis, by adding phosphates BACK into the laundry detergent in the form of trisodium phosphate. It is available at every local hardware store and home center and it doesn’t cost much at all. Add a tablespoon or so depending on your load size, and every time you do laundry, your clothes (and your washer) will become a little cleaner.

But how to take care of that horrid build-up RIGHT NOW? Well, first of all, a lot of the smell is due to mildew which builds up every time you do laundry. Washers do not pump out all the water after a load is finished. There’s always some left behind. And we all like to close the lid when we’re done, don’t we? It looks neater that way. So, that moisture that was left behind stays in there with no air circulation. Mold and mildew develop and your machine gets a little funky. Just leave the lid open to allow the air to circulate and you’ll eliminate that problem without having to lift a finger. Just lift the lid.

As for the rest of your machine, there is hope. Set your machine for a medium load, cold water, high agitation. Then, as the machine fills, add in one large bottle of hydrogen peroxide and one small bottle of vinegar. Put the juice of one lemon (or the entire contents of a plastic lemon) into the fabric softener dispenser. Close the lid, let the machine finish its cycles and when you return, your washing machine will be clean, sweet-smelling, and gunk free.

The peroxide will destroy all biological residue, the vinegar will de-grease and de-gunk the rest. Mildew and smell will become a thing of the past. I clean my machine this way at least once every 3 months and I haven’t had a problem with it. It also seems to pump out faster.

A lot of people like to use bleach to clean their machines but I tell them not to do it. The chlorine in the bleach will wear out the pump gaskets at three times the normal speed and if you have a septic tank, it will destroy the beneficial bacteria inside it. Stick to the vinegar/peroxide/lemon juice formula and the machine will get just as clean without any toxic residue.

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