By: Dawn Leingang

Part of being a homeowner is maintenance. Maintaining your appliances and keeping them clean will prolong the life of the unit and in some cases not doing so can be a safety concern. Today I will break down your washing machine and clothes dryer. There are times we wash things that are really dirty and they can leave debris in the washing machine after the cycle or fill the dryer’s lint trap. If you have pets, children, or dirty work clothes perhaps you can relate!

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When cleaning your washing machine add one quart of bleach and run a load using your hot water cycle. If your machine allows a delay wash or a soak use that to allow the bleach to sit longer. Use a wet rag or sponge with all purpose cleaner or vinegar and if you have a front load machine wipe down the rubber seal in front. If you have a top load machine wipe down the top of the drum to remove mold, mildew, and debris. After this full cycle wash with bleach repeat with 1 quart of vinegar and run another full wash cycle. If you prefer not to use the bleach and or vinegar wash you can find a special machine cleaner in the detergent aisle at your local stores.

After your machine is clean carry on with your household laundry duties. When a load is done washing be sure to remove it promptly to prevent them from a mildew smell and having to re-wash them. Leave the lid open to prevent moisture from being trapped inside and the growth of mold and mildew.

When cleaning your dryer you want to focus on the removal of excess lint. Lint-clogged dryers can make it take longer for your clothes to dry resulting in paying more for electricity as well as shortening the life of your clothing because of pre-mature pilling, fading, or fraying. More importantly not keeping your unit free of excess lint can be a fire hazard. According to the National Fire Protection Association dirty dryers were the cause of 14,692 home fires between 2010 and 2014 alone.

When cleaning your dryer begin by unplugging and pulling it away from the wall. Clean the exterior of the machine and around and under the unit as well. Remove the lint trap and wash it with soap and warm water in the sink. Use a long, skinny brush and vacuum to clean in the machine as far as you can before returning a clean, dry lint filter to the machine. Remove the vent tubing from the back and again use the brush and vacuum to clean as best you can. Professionals can also be hired if you feel like you are not able to complete this adequately. Locate the dryer vent on the exterior of your home and repeat the cleaning process using a long brush and vacuum. It is important to empty the lint trap after EVERY load of laundry. Once a month wash your lint filter and wipe the inside of the drum to remove any residue and debris. Who knows you may find a couple socks in this process!

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