Steps to Maintain Your Washing Machine & How to Tell When Your Washer Needs Maintenance

Washing Machine Maintenance

Maintenance is an important step in caring for each appliance in your laundry room – the washing machine and dryer. Washing machine maintenance will keep the machine in good condition, whether you have a front loading high efficiency washer or a conventional top loading machine. Prevent wear and tear, water leaks, plumbing problems, and related repairs when you inspect and clean washing machines regularly.

Thomas & Galbraith offers washing machine maintenance tips that help Cincinnati area homeowners protect their clothing and laundry machines. Learn how to spot signs that point to the need for machine maintenance, such as odors and damaged hoses, steps for monthly maintenance tasks to clean your washer including how to clean the lint trap and replace the door gasket, as well as proper ways to use washing machines every time you wash a load of clothes.

How Do You Know It’s Time for Washing Machine Maintenance?

Washing machine maintenance tasks should be completed regularly to keep your washer and dryer in great shape. If you perform machine maintenance infrequently, it’s helpful to know the signs of impending washer issues so you are able to correct them before they cause damage and require that you contact a professional to make repairs.

When you notice these issues from laundry machines, make time for maintenance right away:

  • Mold or mildew smells from the washer
  • Loud noises as the washing machine runs a load
  • Fabric damage
  • Clothes aren’t clean after a load
  • No hot water supply
  • Drum doesn’t rotate
  • Drum doesn’t fully drain after a wash cycle
  • Leaking water from the appliance
  • Bulging hoses

Maintenance Tasks to Care for Your Washing Machine

On a monthly basis, it’s important to inspect washing machines and complete maintenance care to clean the appliance and minimize wear as much as possible.

Machine Maintenance for Washer Hoses

Washing machines have one hose that supplies the appliance with hot water and another hose for cold water. These water hoses are made from rubber, PVC, or stainless steel and last approximately three to five years. A separate drain hose removes wastewater from washers, which is made from corrugated plastic – the drain hose will also last about five years.

Even though washer hoses usually last up to five years, damage and leaks could occur at any point in time which is why it is critical that you inspect every hose for issues each month. Search the supply and drain hoses for damage, including bulging, kinks, cracked rubber, and fraying. Replace hoses when damage is noticed or before a hose reaches five years of age.

Follow these steps when it’s time to replace your water hoses:

  1. Unplug your washing machine and turn off the water supply at both the hot and cold water valves.
  2. Disconnect the old hoses from the washing machine and water supply connections. Place a bucket below to drain water sitting within the hoses.
  3. Attach each new hose to the back of the washing machine, making sure the connections are tight to form a strong seal.
  4. Connect the other end of each hose to the corresponding water supply valve. Take care to properly match the hot and cold water connections to the appropriate hose.
  5. Turn water back on at the supply valves. Allow water to run into the hoses and search along each hose for leaks. When finished, plug the washing machine back into its outlet.

Reposition the Machine

A washing machine may move a few inches from its spot in the laundry room due to vibrations from the spin cycle if you overload the appliance or because of uneven footing. Your washer should sit a minimum of four inches away from the neighboring dryer and each surrounding wall in your laundry room. This positioning provides space to limit hose kinks that could cause water leaks or damage to rubber and plastic components.

If your machine has moved during operation, reposition it and adjust its legs for level footing. Clockwise turns will lower the washer leg while counterclockwise turns will raise the leg.

Clean the Lint Filter

Fabric fibers from clothes and linens enter the water as you wash loads of laundry. Lint can clog the drain or move into your plumbing pipes, leading to blockages that require professional service to clear. Washers have a trap that prevents lint from washing down the drain, protecting your plumbing.

Each month, remove and clean the lint filter trap to keep the machine in good condition as well as your drain lines.

  1. First, find the lint filter. It will be located: along the top rim of the drum, inside the agitator, or on the end of the drain line. Remove the part from the appliance.
  2. Soak the filter in warm water for a minimum of 10 minutes.
  3. Use a brush or fabric cloth to remove lint stuck to the filter and rinse the lint trap.
  4. Replace the lint filter in the washer.

Some washing machines have disposable filters. If this applies to your machine, simply remove the filter, throw it away, and install a new one on a monthly basis.

High efficiency washers do not have this component. Instead, lint is caught by a self-cleaning pump in the washer. This part should be checked each month and cleaned as needed to remove fabric fibers.

Clean Your Washing Machine

When you fail to clean washing machines, they form odors caused by mold and mildew as well as the residue left behind by detergent and fabric softener. Eliminate smells left behind by detergent and fabric softener residue and the lingering, damp odor of mold or mildew growth when you clean the washer monthly.

Follow this cleaning process to remove residue buildup from mineral deposits as well as leftover fabric softener and detergent:

  1. Sprinkle two cups baking soda into the washing drum.
  2. Run a wash cycle using hot water. Cleaning loads should not include clothes or other laundry.
  3. Upon completion, run a second hot washing load and add two cups of vinegar to the machine.
  4. Wipe down detergent dispensers, the drum, the machine door, and washer exterior with a clean cloth and vinegar.
  5. To remove stains on the appliance, scrub using a sponge and baking soda.
  6. For front loading washers, clean the door gasket and wipe it down with a cloth and vinegar. This removes mold as well as mildew that has formed on the gasket.
  7. If the door gasket is damaged it will not seal properly and should be replaced. Check your owner’s manual for instructions to complete gasket replacement.
  8. Leave the door open on your washer after cleaning to air dry the machine.

Everyday Washing Machine Maintenance Tips

In addition to monthly maintenance for washing machines, there are things you can do every time you run loads through the appliance that help protect it from wear. These washing machine maintenance tips help you take care of your washer in between cleanings.

  • Do not overload the washer. Separate large loads into smaller batches, grouping loads by related color or type of fabric.
  • Measure the correct amount of detergent for every load. If your machine has a dispenser for liquid detergent, check it regularly to verify the dispenser releases the proper amount of detergent or fabric softener for each wash.
  • Make sure to use the correct detergent for your machine – high efficiency front loaders cannot use the same type of detergent as conventional washing machines as the liquid detergent creates too many suds for the washer to handle. Using the right detergent allows for an efficient wash.
  • Once a load is finished, don’t keep clothes in the washer for very long. Empty clothes into the dryer and start a dryer cycle as soon as possible. Leaving damp clothes in the washer can lead to mold growth in your washing machine.
  • Always leave the door open on your washing machine, especially after moving damp clothes to the dryer. With the door open, the interior of the washer is able to air dry, which protects against mold growth.

Cincinnati Plumbing Services

Washing machine maintenance keeps your laundry appliances in good shape and helps to protect your home’s plumbing drains. When you are in need of plumbing services for your Cincinnati home, call Thomas & Galbraith for quick, reliable service.

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