With all the housecleaning chores we do, one that most people neglect is the washing machine. The washing machine is used to help with our chores, to work as a sort of mechanical servant for us while we do other things, but since it does the cleaning, we rarely see it as something that needs to be cleaned.
Yet we scrub our bathtubs, showers, and sinks all places reserved for cleaning. It makes sense that a place used for cleaning will get soiled with the dirt left behind from the objects (or people) which are now clean. If we leave behind dirt, grime and soap scum in our bathtubs, it logically follows that the same would be true in our washing machines.
Not only do our clothes get dirty, but they are full of body oils and dead skin. We don’t notice these things as most washing machines are dark and we simply drop the clothes in dirty and pull them out clean. But if we actually stepped into our washing machines as we do our showers, we might be shocked at what we find.
When you decide it’s time to clean your washing machine, begin by running your hand along the bottom of the barrel. Put on a white glove if you really want to be shocked. Often you will find a thin layer of grit, and possibly that stray sock you’ve been searching for! But not only are dirt, grit, and other materials problematic, every time you wash your clothes,
but your washing machine is also being subjected to mineral deposits and detergent deposits. Hard water and laundry detergent can cause rust to build up inside the barrel and hoses. Not only will this affect the performance of your machine, but it will also be hard on your clothes, wearing them down. The solution is to clean your washing machine and it’s much easier than you might think.
First, if you did find a layer of dirt or grit at the bottom of the barrel, use a soft, damp towel to wipe up as much of it as you can. Wipe up and down the walls of the entire barrel. If you do find rusty spots, don’t sand them down, because it will only damage the barrel. If the rust is extensive, you may need a new barrel. But first, try washing it; what you’re seeing may not be rust, but rather, limescale deposits.
Next set your washing machine water temperature as hot as possible and set the water level on high. Allow the barrel to fill completely and then add 2 cups of lemon juice for rust, or 2 cups of bleach for stains. Each of these can be done separately, if necessary, but remember never to mix chemicals or cleaning agents.
If you still have exceptionally difficult stains, your local hardware or discount store will have cleaning products designed specifically for washing machines. After the cleaning cycle, then run another cycle with hot water only, to rinse out any excess lemon juice, bleach, or cleaner, and your washing machine will be as good as new.