The other day I was attempting to help an All About Cloth Diapers fan with her laundry issues. I was thinking that the diapers weren’t getting clean enough in the wash and were resulting in rashes. Turns out we had similar washing machines. I took a picture of what my diapers looked like during the second rinse and sent the pic on over. Then I was getting ready to write a reply and I saw my washing machine in all its glory on my computer screen. Can you say: HOLY GROSS BATMAN!
How did it get that disgusting? I mean I cleaned it maybe six months ago.
Let me assure you, I am certain it’s not the cloth diapers making it dirty. More likely that grossness is all the dirt that gets washed off of Sophia’s clothes after she plays in the sand and mud all day. Also my husband’s work clothes that are usually covered in a fine layer of concrete dust with a crust of mud around the edges for good measure.
A while back Autumn wrote a post called: Should You Wash Your Washing Machine? The answer is yes, you should!
Let’s get this done!
The easiest way to do this is if the machine has a cleaning cycle. If it does, I suggest you purchase Affresh and run it though. Affresh is a made in the USA product that is specifically designed to safely clean washing machines and is available in regular and HE versions. It is also my FAVORITE of the the several products I’ve tried. It did a great job and didn’t leave any fragrance behind. I’m a self professed scent junky, but if I stick my head in my empty washer, I want to smell…nothing! I get my Affresh on Amazon. It’s cheap and comes right to my door!
You can also make your own cleaner by using a couple cups (about 4 cups) of either vinegar or lemon juice instead.
If you don’t have a cleaning cycle and you are using a top loader you can let the washer drum fill with HOT water, add the Affresh, vinegar or lemon juice, let it agitate for a few minutes and then stop the cycle and let it soak for at least an hour. After the hour is up, allow the washer to finish the cycle.
In a front loading washer that doesn’t have a cleaning cycle, add the cleaning agent like you would normal detergent and run a normal HOT wash cycle.
Next, make a solution of equal parts water to vinegar and wipe clean any area where you see any crud. In a top loader, this includes the insides of the bleach and fabric softener dispensers. Also, move the top of the wash drum around and wipe any place you can get into. On some top loaders the top piece of the agitator where the fabric softener dispenser is located will snap off. If that comes off, check in there as well. That could be a whole other world where fuzz and built-up dirt are hiding. On a front loader, use the vinegar/water solution and wipe clean the rubber seal around the door as well as the detergent dispensers.
Be sure to leave the door open for a bit to let things dry out. This will prevent most mold and mildew from forming.
To help keep things clean there a few easy maintenance steps you can take both after each load and weekly (and also including a monthly full cleaning). For all the details of washing machine maintenance, please read:
Your dryer also needs to be maintained. Not only does it save $$$ by being able to dry items more efficiently it’s a fire hazard if you don’t. For all the details, check out my post:
How many of you plan on checking your machine to see if it looks anything like mine? No need to be embarrassed. Considering we run these every day with our filthiest things in it, washers deserve a little cleaning of their own once in a while!
If you are cleaning your machine in hopes of helping with stink issues, and it doesn’t help, the next step is to fix the wash routine. I can help with that. Check out my top 10 tips for washing cloth diapers to get started.
Jenn is a long-time cloth diaper educator and a passionate small business advocate. She has worked in the reusable diaper industry for over a decade, helping millions of families via her websites All About Cloth Diapers, Thinking About Cloth Diapers and Cloth Diaper Geek as well as hundreds of small businesses during that time. Her goal always to provide simple, reliable information.