Weekend Projects

It’s Kinda Boring, But Seriously, Take Care of Your Washer & Dryer so They Can Take Care of You

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

If you’re lucky enough to have your own, your washer and dryer are probably among your most expensive household appliances. But it’s easy to just crank the laundry through them without giving them much care. They are sophisticated machines, though, that need proper maintenance if you want to keep them working their best and for a long time. This weekend, familiarize yourself with how to properly take care of these very handy workhorses.

This Weekend’s Assignment: Learn how to care for your washer and dryer — and start doing it!

Front-loading Washers

While some people remain wary of front loading machines or are scared off by stories of how they get musty smelling, etc., most people who’ve owned them agree that they really do seem to get clothes cleaner. It is especially important with front loading washers, however, that you do your best to keep them dry. Here’s how to maintain them:

  • After a wash cycle runs (or after a few loads, when you’re done with the machine for a while), wipe any moisture off of the door and the gasket around the door. If there is any remaining moisture in the drum, wipe that out too.
  • Prop the door of the washer open with a thick sponge or small towel so that it can dry. (Some machines have a built-in mechanism to keep the door propped open a few inches.)
  • Always use HE detergent and remember that less is more.
  • Do not let damp clothes sit in the machine.
  • Run a self-cleaning cycle once a month with bleach or a tub cleaner. Refer to your unit’s manual for specifics.
  • Clean out the drain pump filter every couple of weeks. Again, refer to your unit’s manual for instructions.
  • Make sure your unit is on even footing.
  • Clean out the detergent dispenser regularly.

Top-loading Washers

  • Don’t leave damp clothes sitting in the drum.
  • Leave the lid open to air it out after you’re done using it.
  • Clean out the detergent dispenser regularly.
  • Run the self-clean cycle, if your unit has one. Or run one of your own.


  • Remove lint from the lint catcher before each and every load is dried.
  • Wash the lint catcher with detergent every three months so that chemical buildup doesn’t restrict airflow.
  • Make sure ducts are metal rather than vinyl; metal ducts are less of a fire hazard.
  • Have ducts professionally cleaned once a year. Clogged ducts are a major fire hazard.
  • Make sure ducts are crimped or pinched so that airflow is unrestricted.

Remember, as with all of our Weekend Projects, just do what you have the time and energy to do. This is a marathon, not a sprint!

  • Help motivate others by letting the rest of us know how things are going! Share your tips and photos of your Weekend Project work on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #ATweekendproject.
  • Check out 2017’s entire Plan for a Healthy & Happy Home to access all Weekend Project ideas, so you can pick and choose what to do this weekend.