Know Your Tools: The Washer and Dryer
by Sheri Wallace
ashers and dryers are designed to be fairly simple to maintain. There are a few tips however, that will prolong the use of the machines and reduce service calls. After interviewing several service centers, and talking to Maytag's Customer Service hotline, I have developed a list of tips that will help you maintain your washer and dryer properly.
- Turn off the water faucets after finishing the day's washing. This will shut off the water supply to the washer and prevent the unlikely possibility of damage from escaping water.
- Use a soft cloth to wipe up all detergent, bleach or other spills as they occur. This prevents the buildup of detergent or fabric softener where they may cause a blockage of water flow or possibly damage a future load of clothes.
- Every 2 weeks, you should run a cycle of hot water with 2 cups of chlorine bleach or white vinegar and 1/2 cup of detergent through the washer. Add the bleach at the beginning of the cycle, directly to the wash tub. This will remove any detergent buildup and also keep germs from accumulating in the airtight parts of the washer. This is especially important if you do a lot of cloth diapers in your machine, as buildup from previous loads can damage the diapers or leave a residue that could cause a rash.
- Hard water deposits can be removed from the inside of the washer using a product that is labeled safe for clothes washers. You can find these products at your local appliance part store.
- If you plan to store your washer for a long length of time, you should run it through a special cycle to prepare the washer for storage. Run it through a complete cycle with 1 cup of bleach or vinegar in the water, with no clothes or detergent in the cycle. Make sure to empty all the water out of the drain hose as well as the intake hoses. Then make sure that air can circulate in the tub of the washer to prevent mold and mildew.
- You can clean any stains such as crayon, ink pen or fabric dye from the tumbler by using an all-purpose cleaner. Then tumble old towels or rags (make sure they are clean and not soiled with a flammable substance) in the dryer for a cycle to remove any residue or excess stain from the tumbler.
- Once a year, disconnect your dryer from the vent hose and wall and thoroughly vacuum and clean the lint pipe. This will improve your drying efficiency and remove any potentially flammable buildup from the system. You should also take this opportunity to clean the rooftop vents if you have them, as it will decrease the amount of time it takes clothes to dry. You can buy a special tool for this at your local Home Depot or other home maintenance store.
- If you have a buildup of lint that has escaped your lint tray, use a narrow brush or the crevice tool of your vacuum to clean the area around the lint tray. You might even take a wire clothes hanger, wrap it in a clean, damp cloth and gently wipe the hard to reach spots. If you do a load of clothes, such as rugs or new diapers, which contains an excess of lint, you can easily remove the front of the dryer and clean out any excess that may have overpowered the lint tray.
It is also a good idea to disconnect the washer and dryer once a year and clean under them. "Stuff" tends to build up under them and it is good to check for any leaks or maintenance problems before you have a flood or fire.
Following the manufacturer's directions is also recommended. In case of a specific question, you can usually request more information from a toll free service number. Call your local Sears or other appliance store for the list of numbers.
Following these simple tips can extend the life of your machines and give you many loads of trouble free washing and drying.
Sheri Wallace is editor of ePregnancy Magazine, living in Tucson, Arizona. She has written non-fiction, information and travel articles for magazines and newsletters. Visit her website at http://sheriwallace.hypermart.com.
By the way: You might want to check out Troubleshooting and Repairing Major Appliances.