We put so much care into our clothes — separating colors, reading labels, learning how to iron properly — but what about the machines doing the washing and drying? As essential as these appliances are to our daily routines, we tend to only examine them when they break down, leaving us piles of soppy and soiled clothes to tangle with. So, by making sure they’re well-maintained, you’ll ultimately save yourself the hassle — and cost — of having to repair or replace them, at least for a while. Better still? Many of these care practices are eco-friendly since they conserve water, energy, and employ sustainable products. So, consider these tips and tricks to keep your washer and dryer operating smoothly and efficiently while saving you money along the way.
Maintaining your washer
From how you clean the machine to how you load it to what detergent you use, a well-loved washer will keep your clothes fresh and clean while sparing you unnecessary repair or replacement costs. Here’s how to keep it thriving with a little TLC:
Prioritize regular cleaning
Routine maintenance helps keep it operating at peak performance. Run an empty cycle with hot water and a cup of vinegar once a month. This helps eliminate any mineral deposits or detergent buildup that might hinder its function. Then take a damp cloth and wipe the inside of the drum. You’ll also want to clean the detergent drawers for residue. The door seal should also be swabbed with water and vinegar to prevent mold.
Watch your load size
Jamming your washer with too many clothes will put the motor and suspension system through the wringer. Instead, check the manufacturer’s guidelines for the load capacity to confirm how many clothes your machine can tackle at a time.
Keep it balanced
If the machine is shaking, vibrating, and convulsing, it may be because the clothes aren’t evenly distributed. Spread out your items, especially quilts and bedding. At the same, make sure the machine is level to minimize rumbling.
Schedule maintenance checks
Quick inspections can spot issues before they become too severe. So, check hoses for leaks or cracks, and secure all connections tightly. You should also examine the drain pump for debris. Lastly, don’t be afraid to call a professional. Simply swapping out an old part can give your washer a new lease on life while sparing you the cost of scrapping the whole machine.
Prioritize energy-efficient washer and dryers
When it does come time to upgrade your washer, shop for models with high energy efficiency ratings. Modern appliances are designed with advanced technologies that use less water and electricity, making them more environmentally friendly and cost-effective in the long run. There are many options on the market but prioritize those with an ENERGY STAR rating since these have been tested to meet energy-efficiency standards. Need some guidance? See our washer and dryer purchasing guide here.
Choose the right detergent
With your washing machine humming along, why not also make a convenient, sustainable upgrade to your laundry routine? By switching to eco-friendly laundry detergent sheets, you’ll not only be enjoying the cleaning power of regular detergents without the harmful chemicals or plastic waste, but you’ll be making this household task feel like less of a chore. That’s because our sheets come in biodegradable lightweight packaging. No heavy plastic jug to tow around. No messes or spills to deal with. And you’ll be freeing up space in your laundry area while reducing your environmental impact.
Maintaining your dryer
From tackling lint to embracing dryer balls, these steps will keep your dryer optimized, leaving your garments crisp and warm:
Use high spin speeds when you wash
Set your washer to a high spin speed, which will extract more water from your clothes. This shortens drying times and, consequently, lowers energy consumption. You'll save time and energy while reducing wear and tear on your dryer.
Break free of dryer dependence
The best way to make an appliance last is to use it only when needed. So, take advantage of the natural elements and air dry your clothes. Invest in a sturdy drying rack or find a sun-dappled spot in your yard. You'll save money while extending the lifespan of your clothes and brightening your whites in the sunlight. We’re not saying mothball your dryer, but reconsider how often you really have to use it.
Get rid of lint
The lint filter should be cleaned after every cycle. This not only improves performance, but reduces a potential fire hazard. You’ll also want to wipe the interior of the drum from time to time, as lint and residue can collect.
Inspect the ventilation system
Again, ensuring proper ventilation not only optimizes the machine, but reduces the risk of fire. The vent and ducts should be checked, too.
Just as you should with your washing machine, check the load capacity in the manufacturer’s guidelines. Overloading the dryer will not only strain the machine, but mean you'll be waiting longer for dry clothes.
Employ dryer balls
Toss a few wool dryer balls into the dryer to help fluff clothes. This reduces drying time and acts as a natural fabric softener, eliminating the need for disposable dryer sheets. They also scoop up lint and microplastics, helping your dryer to last.
Call the professionals
Accept it: there will be times when a technician is needed. You may be able to spot some issues yourself, but a professional inspection will give you peace of mind that your dryer is in fine operating order.
Consider a dual-function washer-dryer combo
If you have limited space, investigate a combo unit that works as both a washer and dryer. These compact machines use a single drum, eliminating the need to transfer clothes between machines. That said, some take longer to dry your laundry than traditional machines, so do your research before switching.
Of course, no appliance lasts forever, so if you are in the market for a new washer and dryer, see our green guide here. But hopefully by cleaning and maintaining your machines, you’ll be able to put off new purchases for some time. Meanwhile, you’ll avoid spending on repairs, consume less energy, and make your laundry routine a stress-free, low-pressure breeze.