Eight Tips for Maintaining Your Washing Machine

People tend to be more active in the summer and that activity results in more loads of laundry.  This means you’ll be running your washing machine more, so if it breaks it can put a monkey wrench in your summer plans and possibly even deplete your vacation fund.  That’s why it’s good to spot problems early and be sure to fix minor mishaps. There are actually some very simple, do-it-yourself washing machine maintenance tasks that can greatly increase your machine’s lifespan.

Stay balanced. You can’t enroll your washer in a yoga class, so it’s entirely up to you to make sure it’s sitting level and even. You’ll recognize the sounds of an unbalanced washing machine by the loud jolting, scraping and thumping that send the cat scurrying for cover. It’s really important not to ignore the noise because it means there’s undue stress on the machine’s motor. Tilt it carefully back or forward to adjust the machine’s feet until it’s stable. Use a carpenter’s level to double-check your judgment.

Check the hardware. At least once a year, visually check all hoses, valves and fittings for cracks, leaks or corrosion. If you notice any damage, have the affected parts replaced immediately. Even if you do not detect any problems, it is a good idea to replace hoses and fittings every 4 to 5 years as preventive maintenance.

Thou shalt not overload. Your mother probably told you this a thousand times, and while it may sound pretty basic, the first rule of laundry is to never overload the washing machine. Allowing a little room to move will get your clothes cleaner. An overloaded machine will strain the motor and transmission, and this will significantly shorten the washer’s lifespan. Yes, it takes more time, but smaller loads mean better performance. 

Clean water intake filters.Once every few months, remove and clean water intake filters where water supply hoses connect to the washer. Be careful not to strip the plastic threads at the back of the washer. 

Dilute your detergent and softener.Reduce the amount of detergent and fabric softener you use, or dilute the fabric softener with water. Using too much of either can leave a residue or film inside the washer tub. Your clothes will get just as clean and soft using half the amount of detergent and fabric softener you normally use. Opt for liquids over powders. 

Dispense with dirty dispensers! Build-up happens in the detergent, bleach and fabric softener dispensers. Many are removable, so soak them in hot water and remove the dirt that accumulates around them at the top of the machine and tub. If they are not removable, just pour hot water through them until they are clean.

Rub-a-dub that tub! Periodically, simply run the washer empty with hot water and no soap. This will clean the tub and, if you do it every three months, you’ll practically eliminate built-up soap residue. If you have a top-loading machine, you can add white distilled vinegar (3 cups) and baking soda (1/2 cup) to the water for increased effectiveness. However, front-loading machines will not fill when they are empty. To clean a front-loading washer, add the vinegar and baking soda mixture to a couple of old, clean bath towels, toss them in and run the hot-water cycle.

Remove any worry about water valves. When you go away for more than a few days, it’s best to turn off your water valves. Believe it or not, your water hoses are under pressure even when your washer is not in use. So by turning them off you can avoid the risk of burst hoses and water damage while you’re away.

Following these simple steps for maintaining your washing machine on a regular basis can help you avoid the inconvenience and expense of costly equipment break-downs. But, you may also want to consider purchasing ahome warranty or home service plan, which will give you the added security of knowing that if something does break down, you can get it fixed cost-effectively by a qualified service professional.

For more tips throughout the year and to learn how a home service plan can give you peace of mind, check out TotalProtect on Facebook and Twitter.

The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.