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Guess what, we have to know how to clean the washer and dryer! Soapscum, limescale and lint are the enemy in the laundry area. I'm not ashamed to admit this came as a complete surprise to me. When we got our first home, we got all new appliances. They were so shiny and clean that I happily washed and dried many loads of laundry without ever so much as knocking the dust off the tops.

About a year passed before my husband finally got around to replacing the lightbulb in the laundry room (hey, don't judge him he had been sick!) casting light on lots of lint, dust and dirt that the dim light had camouflaged. The build up that had been taking place right before my eyes was shocking. I was appalled at how dusty, dirty and lint-y my beautiful machines had become. The guilt that I felt was more than you could imagine in light of my children's breathing problems.

After a moment of much-deserved self recrimination I set out to learn how to clean the washer and dryer, FAST! I'm not a lazy housewife (well, actually maybe a little lazy but my kids' asthma keeps me going) but my dusting, mopping and disinfecting routine had completely bypassed the laundry area. Well, that has now changed and I have become a pro at learning how to clean the washing machine drum, filter and all without using chemicals!

How to clean the washing machine with with vinegar:

Some household cleaning tips informed me that I should learn how to clean my washer with bleach but that went against my campaign for using only green household cleaning products. I try to use only non-toxic and environmentally friendly home cleaning solutions. I went in search of a cleaner to use besides household bleach and learned that my old friend, vinegar, would do the trick. Vinegar does a fine job of removing soap scum, limescale and just plain old dirt that floats to the top of the tub and sticks when combined with hot water and doesn't leave a bunch of nasty chemicals floating in the air of my green home. Some people claim that you can learn how to clean the washing machine with baking soda, but I haven't tried that method yet. If you know how to clean your washer with baking soda, please direct me to the instructions so I can give it a try.

1. Adjust the settings for a wash with HOT water. While the tub is filling add about a gallon of vinegar. You may be able to use less and get the job done but I was dealing with a significant amount of build up.

2. I let the washing machine run through the super cycle so that the acidic cleaning solution would have plenty of time to do its work.

•3 After the wash cycle was finished I took a wash cloth and wiped out the inside of the tub just so I could see if my green household cleaner had worked. And other than some crud around the top of the tub, everything looked great!


Learning how to clean the washer with vinegar on the inside is just the first step of the cleaning process. I then started at the top and cleaned down the sides, front and back of the washer using one of my homemade cleaning products that I made from a recipe.

Nobody sees it, but it just makes sense to go on and clean behind the washing machine and the dryer while you're at it. If you have a stackable washer and dryer, it's inadvisable to attempt to move it without help but you can use your vacuum cleaner tools to reach behind and beneath the stacked washing machine and dryer to do some good.

If you have the old-fashioned kind (like me), you can move the washer and dryer using casters (available at hardware and discount stores) but do not stretch the hoses attached to the dryer and washing machine too far! If you can't move the appliances far enough without stretching them, disconnect them. This is also a good time to inspect your washing machine hoses for cracks and bulges which indicates they need to be replaced.

While your appliances are out of the way, clean not only the floors but the lint from behind the dryer, the inside of the dryer hose and the dryer vent using your vacuum cleaner tools and brushes that will reach into the cracks. After you have removed as much as you can by brushing and vacuuming, wipe everything down with a clean cloth.

I wish I could tell you that you don't have to do this again for a very long time, but the truth is that the soapscum, lint and gunk with start to accumulate once again with the very next load of laundry that you run. Regular maintenance helps, but I can see that this process will have to be repeated at my house every six months or so.