1. Leveling: When your washing machine isn't level, it can cause strong vibration, causing it to move across the floor. Not only can it damage objects around it, but it can seriously damage the machine itself. This problem is easily remedied by adjusting the front-leveling legs. You adjust the legs to the proper height (using a bubble level is helpful) and then tightening the lock nut against the body of the machine.
2. Surface cleaning: Wiping dust and excess spilled detergent from the exterior of the machines is integral to their longevity. Also wipe down the gaskets and glass doors, paying special attention to crevices.
3. Lint removal: You may think that only your dryers collect lint in the ducts and lint traps, but most washing machines also collect lint during the wash cycle and send it down the drain during the drain cycle. If your machine is a Maytag, it may collect lint in the center tube of the agitator. You need to lift out that tube and clean it periodically. Other machines have a lint filter near the top of the tub, which you need to slide out, clean off, and reinsert. Also, if you randomly start having drainage issues in a nearby kitchen or bath, it could be due to built-up lint in your drain pipes.
4. Water fill hoses: The water hoses that came with your new washing machine may eventually leak or burst. It's good preventive maintenance practice to check these hoses from time to time for any sign of wear or weakness. If you see a small blister in the rubber of the hose, it could be an early sign of a rupture. Most manufacturers recommend replacing the hoses every 5 years.
5. Don't overdry: Overdrying your clothes not only wastes energy, but also reduces the life of your clothing. It also causes unnecessary wear and tear on your dryer.
6. Look for a moisture sensor: If you're in the market for a new dryer, look for one with a moisture sensor that will automatically shut off the cycle when your clothes are dry.
7. Crack the washer door open: If you don't have curious children or pets, it's a good idea to keep the door to your washer cracked open to let the drum breathe and dry to prevent and unpleasant mildew smell from developing.
8. Vent the dryer properly: Venting your dryer properly is not only good for the dryer's health, but for your own. Improperly vented dryers can build-up excess lint inside the body of the dryer and release carbon monoxide into your living space. Make sure that the dryer vent hose isn't extending further than the manual recommends and that there aren't any kinks or or sags, which can collect lint and become a fire hazard.
9. Clean the inside, too: Clean out dispensers and attachments once a month. Wiping the inside of the drums is a good idea to make sure any non-colorfast clothing dye remains to ruin any light-colored loads.
10. Prep for vacations: Turn off the water supply and unplug your washer and dryer before you head off for any extended period of time. It will prevent any accidental flooding while you're away.
(Image: Jill Slater)