Though your washing machine cleans your clothing, it isn't a self-cleaning appliance. Over time, dirt from your laundry, detergent and minerals from hard water can all build up in your machine. If your clothes have a musty smell after you wash them or if the machine itself has an odor, it's time to give your washer a thorough cleaning. Follow these tips to get your machine smelling its best:
1. Deep Clean the Machine Regularly
Check the manual that comes with your washing machine to learn how often you should give it a thorough cleaning. Recommendations will vary depending on your machine, but most manufacturers suggest cleaning it every month or two.
How you clean depends on the machine itself. Many newer machines have a cycle known as a cleaning cycle. This is basically a hot-water cycle with an extended time. Before running the cleaning cycle, add a commercial washing machine cleaner, white vinegar, or bleach to the bleach dispenser. After the cleaning cycle is complete, dampen a rag with white vinegar and give the interior one final wipe down.
If your machine doesn't have an actual cleaning cycle, you can create your own by selecting the hottest water setting and the longest cycle time. After this cycle runs, you may want to do an additional rinse cycle to remove any traces of cleaner.
2. Don't Forget the Gaskets
When you're wiping down the interior of your washing machine, it's important to hit all the nooks and crannies. These small, dark spaces create the perfect environment for mold or mildew to develop. Make sure that you wipe the gaskets and seals around your machine's lid or door, as they frequently house moisture and odor. Your detergent, fabric softener and bleach dispensers are other areas you need to hit when wiping down the machine.
3. Take Steps to Allow the Machine to Dry Out
The fact that washing machines remain damp for long periods makes them more susceptible to developing odor-causing mold and mildew. Keep odor at bay by making a couple changes to your laundry routine.
After you wash a load of clothes, you should wipe down the interior of the machine with a dry microfiber cloth to remove extra moisture. Make sure to clean the lid, the agitator and the seals around the door or lid. Another option is leaving the machine's lid or door open so that the moisture can evaporate.