How to Clean and Maintain Your Washer and Dryer

updated Nov 19, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

A while back Abby and I got some tips from Danny Seo on how to be smarter about how we did laundry. He had some great simple (green) tips that we implemented right away. He also was one of the first to point out the importance of maintaining the machines so that your clothes get clean, the machines stay efficient and you get the most out of your investment.

Washing Machine

  • Inside: A cup of white vinegar run through the warm cycle will break up mineral deposits and clean out any dirt caught in the drain or mechanism. Add vinegar to the wash when using a laundromat if you’re concerned about what went in before your load. The vinegar will also serve to neutralize any lingering odors (including pungent leftover fabric softener)

  • Outside: A machine that is used a lot can end up accumulating grime in the corners and rim of the loading area. Use a sponge or rag with a solution of 50/50 water and vinegar to clean it out. Remember to wipe down the outside of the washer periodically and use the vacuum to suck the dustbunnies out from underneath the machine.

  • Level It: This great post on extending the life of your washer and dryer points out the importance of leveling your washing machine so that as it spins, it isn’t causing undue wear to itself, the floor, or the wall near it.

  • Front Loaders: Some people have had issues with their front loading machines beginning to smell of mold or mildew . Apparently it isn’t totally uncommon for an accumulation of detergents and water to create the smell. Try the vinegar trick, leaving the door open in between washes, and if that doesn’t help, try some smelly washer.


  • Lint: Clean the lint filter before every load. Every once in a while you can go beyond just cleaning the lint out with your hand and actually take the filter over to the sink and rinse it gently with warm water and a soft brush.

  • Exhaust: Check the dryer exhaust on the exterior of the house to make sure it’s clear of debris and that the hot air is able to escape the flap vent without any blockages. The hose connecting the dryer to the outside world can also collect lint and dirt over time. To keep it as clear as possible, straighten out the kinks where the lint is likely to collect. The straighter the hose, the cleaner and less likely to cause a fire.

  • Outside: Use the vacuum and a damp rag to clear out any dust or dirt that has built up around the base of the dryer (or underneath). Make sure to wipe down the sides, the door and the rubber tubing that seals it on a regular basis.

How do you maintain your washer and dryer?

Tips for Using Communal Laundry facilities
• Look! A Handy Offline Source for Laundry Tips
20 Household Uses for Used Dryer Sheets