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How To Spring Clean Your Washer And Dryer

04/08/2013 01:58 pm ET | Updated Jun 08, 2013
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If you plan on taking part in the annual ritual of spring cleaning, we've got some advice on how to clean two of your hardest working appliances: the washer and dryer. In addition to looking nice, clean appliances generally run more efficiently, helping to save money on your electric bill and prevent safety issues, like dryer fires. If it's been a while since you've shown yours some love, read on to learn tips on how to get them looking and running their best.

Washer

Top Loading Washers
Detergent and fabric softener residue can build up in the dispensers, so remove them and wash them with warm soapy water. While you are cleaning the dispensers, fill the empty washing machine with hot water, add one cup of bleach, letting it sit for an hour before running a long cleaning cycle. After the cycle is finished, refill the appliance with hot water and this time add one to two cups of vinegar before running it through another cycle. Finally, run a hot water cycle one more time to thoroughly clean the washing machine. Because you've used bleach, it's best to have the first load of clothes be whites, in case there are traces of the product remaining in the washer.

Front Loading Washers
A common complaint among owners of front loading, high efficiency washers is that clothes and the washer tub can take on a musty, moldy odor. This can happen when dirt, grime and water get into the folds of the door's seal. If yours is a bit smelly, in addition to the cleaning tips mentioned above, thoroughly clean the door seal with a bleach solution (one part bleach to nine parts water). Use a toothbrush or other small cleaning tool to get in all of the nooks and crannies, where mold can grow. To prevent this from reoccurring, never leave wet clothes in the machine overnight, keep the washer door open when the machine is not in use and wipe down the seal with a mild cleanser on a weekly basis.

Dryer

In addition to cleaning out the lint trap after each load of laundry every three to four months, remove the lint trap and use the nozzle attachment of your vacuum to suck out any dirt that might have made its way into the body of the dryer. To prevent lint from getting into the dryer, when replacing the trap, make sure it fits snuggly and that there are no tears in the screen. Using a rag, wipe down the inside of the dryer drum with a mild detergent or vinegar.

And if you have an automatic drying setting, give the moisture sensor electrodes a good cleaning. The moisture sensor detects when the clothes are dry, but buildup from lint or dryer sheets can affect the sensor, leaving you with overly dried clothes, or clothes that are still wet. While cleaning your dryer, it's a great time to tackle the dryer exhaust. The exhaust should be cleaned annually to avoid an excess build up of lint, which can become a fire hazard. To clean the exhaust, find and loosen the clamp, and remove the exhaust off the back of the dryer. Use your hands to remove the lint you can reach from the exhaust tubes, then take a clothes hanger to remove the clumps that you can't reach. Finally vacuum any lint remaining in the exhaust and in the back of the dryer, before reattaching the exhaust.

Washer & Dryer

Once you've cleaned the inside of both machines, take some time to spruce up the outside too. If your appliances have a painted finish, you can wipe them down with a multipurpose cleaner and tackle any tough stains and scuff marks with a magic eraser. If your washer and dryer have a stainless steel finish, get rid of the dirt and grime by using a gentle detergent and then use a glass cleaning spray to get rid of finger prints, making sure to dry the appliances really well to prevent streaks.

Now that the washer and dryer are cared for, they can get back to their duty of helping you with your other spring cleaning projects!

Click through our slideshow to see more helpful tips.

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