Many people assume when they purchase a new washer and dryer set (or individual pieces separately) that these machines will simply take care of themselves, require no upkeep, and that they can essentially be ignored until it’s just time to do another load of laundry. While today’s technology has given us incredible advances like smartphone and tablet apps that tell us when a wash cycle is over, when a lint trap needs to be changed, or if there is a clog in a vent, it is still up to us as the owners of these machines to keep them well maintained so they can last as long as possible. In addition, if we do not perform regular maintenance on our washers and dryers, even the best warranties in the industry may not cover us in certain circumstances. For these reasons, a little TLC every now and then will go a long way with both your washer and dryer.
Generally, the major concern with dryers is overheating caused by blocked vents. The primary culprit here is a lint trap that has been allowed to clog, or that is simply ignored altogether. Not only is this a great way to shorten the life expectancy of your dryer, it is also the fast track to overheating and a potential electrical fire. It is absolutely essential that you keep your lint trap clean, and every dozen loads or so, remove the lint trap completely and get in there to remove the fine debris that made it through the mesh. About four to six times a year or so, remove the lint trap and vacuum the intake area so it is completely clear of any visible lint. This is also a good time to get behind the machines with your vacuum and hose out dust, lint, and any other debris that is hanging out between the appliances and the wall. Be careful during this process—it is not uncommon for a baby sock or small clothing item to have fallen behind the washer or dryer—something like this will clog your vacuum. Look before vacuuming to see if there are any large items that should be hand-removed before vacuuming begins.
For your washing machine, a main concern is build up of detergent, softener, and other cleaning agents in the areas where you deposit them. Once you begin to see a layer of grime around the edges of trays, remove them if they are removable and allow them to soak in dish soap, then rinse until they are literally “squeaky” clean. If the trays are not removable, a homemade cleaning agent of one part water to one part white vinegar used with a toothbrush or small sponge will help to remove the grime buildup.
For washers, it is imperative that you not allow water hoses to deteriorate. Just take a gander back there every so often, and if you happen to notice any cracks or weathering of the hoses, it’s time to replace them. You can have a professional from your appliance company or the store where you purchased your washer come and replace them, or you can do it yourself—but make sure you have unplugged the machine, turned off the water, and have the proper tools on hand before you begin.