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10 simple tricks to extend the life of your washing machine
With the rising cost of appliances, it’s prudent to maintain them to help avoid issues and breakdowns. Washing machine maintenance doesn’t have to be complicated. Consider these 10 simple tricks to extend the life of your washing machine and potentially save yourself money on repair costs.
1. Never overload
Avoid packing your laundry in so tightly that movement is limited.
Regularly overloading the washing machine can place unnecessary stress on certain parts of the appliance, such as the bearings or suspension.
Overloading can also diminish the machine’s ability to agitate the load properly, resulting in clothes that come out less clean or a washer that runs slowly.
2. Always use the correct detergent
High-efficiency (HE) washers require HE detergent. Using a non-HE detergent can cause oversudsing, longer cycle times and washer errors.
Using too much regular detergent in non-HE washers can create the same problems, as well as residue buildup from too many suds.
3. Keep the door open in HE front-load washers
When an HE washing machine is not in use, keep the door open. This will allow for better ventilation and drying of the washing machine’s interior.
Leaving the door shut can cause mildew. Mildew in your washing machine can make your clothes smell bad, even after washing.
For tips on how to remove mildew from your washing machine, see our guide for curing smelly washing machines.
4. Don't slam the lid on top-load washers
Washer maintenance doesn’t get any easier than this—don’t slam or drop the lid when closing a top-loading washing machine.
Dropping or slamming the lid can cause excessive wear and tear on the lid switch, which can cause your washing machine to not spin.
5. Check hoses annually
At least once a year, check your washing machine's hot and cold water supply hoses as well as the drain hose.
If you see any sign of brittleness, cracks or leaks, the hose and/or its rubber washers should be replaced.
Follow our guide to replacing your water supply hoses. It's a straightforward DIY project. Replacing a drain hose can be more complicated because it requires going deeper into the washing machine. You may want the help of a repair professional.
Tip: Leaks also can occur if the drain hose connection becomes loose. Learn how you can tighten a washing machine drain hose.
6. Always use a correct power source
Always plug your washing machine into a proper power source—typically a grounded 3-prong outlet.
When a washer is hooked up to the power incorrectly, performance issues can occur. Check with a qualified electrician if you are unsure about your power source.
Note: Washing machines should never be plugged into an extension cord.
7. Check pockets of clothing before tossing in
Coins, tacks, paper clips, earrings, pens, small toys and other metal objects often hide in pockets and folds of laundry. These objects tend to fall out and become loose during a wash cycle. You’ll know when they do because they will clink, clunk and thunk throughout the cycle.
These forgotten bits not only make noise, they can damage the drum of the washing machine, shortening its life and ruining your clothing with tears or your floor with leaks.
8. Clean the dispenser trays monthly
Your washing machine has trays for detergent, fabric softener and perhaps for bleach as well.
Clean these trays with warm water and dish soap once a month to prevent buildup that could cause your detergent or fabric softener not to dispense properly.
9. Clean the drum every 6 months
The drum of the machine may seem like it should be the cleanest part of any household appliance, but it still needs general cleaning. This simple washer maintenance can help remove hard-water buildup and keep mildew at bay.
Run an empty washer with two cups white vinegar or bleach in place of detergent to clean the drum in either top-loading or front-loading machines.
For more details, follow our guide for cleaning a washing machine.
10. Read your owner's manual
Keep your manual in an easy-to-find location such as a laundry room drawer or the pedestal drawer below the machine.
One of the best ways to extend the life of your washing machine or any other appliance is to read the owner’s manual. It will tell you how the machine should be cleaned, how often general maintenance should be performed, and offer troubleshooting tips when something does go wrong.
Note: The American Cleaning Institute recommends never combining laundry detergents with ammonia or other household cleaning products because mixing certain chemicals combinations may release irritating gases.
Did you know? Bragging rights belong to the Brits for the first washing machine design. H. Sidgier from Great Britain designed the first one in 1782.
✓ Reviewed and approved by a Repair.com expert.