15 Tips to Keep Your Washing Machine Going Longer

Before I became a homeowner, I didn’t realize that so many things need to be done around the house to keep everything working properly! One of those things is appliance maintenance. If you want your appliances to work properly, and for a longer time, you need to take good care of them, and give them a “tune up” at least once a year.

One important appliance to maintain is your washing machine. After hundreds of loads of laundry, eventually your washer will develop a build-up of gunk and minerals. It may even start to smell yucky on the inside.

vinegar and baking soda on washing machine

To keep your washing machine running in tip-top shape and producing the freshest, cleanest loads of laundry, follow these tips. They’ll help you keep your washing machine going for much longer!

1) Don’t Neglect the Maintenance Wash

A regular maintenance wash is one of the best ways you can keep getting great results out of your washing machine. Essentially, it’s just a deep cleaning cycle where you add a special cleaning solution to get rid of stains, bacteria, sludge, and mold. Do this at least once a month to clear out the drum.

To keep it clean, smelling fresh, and lasting longer, here’s a good tip:

Fill the washer full with HOT water. Add one gallon of vinegar and 1/2 cup baking soda. Let it go through the wash cycle. Before it drains, turn the dial to the spin setting and allow it to drain as it spins. This will be sure to get all of the build-up off of the walls of the washer tub. It will also help to clean out the hoses.

NOTE: I have seen different variations of this method. Some don’t use any baking soda. Some use as little as 2-3 cups of vinegar. I’d suggest doing whatever works for you!

2) Clean the Detergent Drawer and Filter

If your washing machine has a special detergent drawer, be sure to clean this out, too. Do this after each and every maintenance wash so that deposits don’t build up and affect your washer’s performance.

Completely pull out the drawer as far as it can go, then look for the catch. This should allow you to press down and remove it from the machine. Usually, this is right in the middle of the machine. If you can’t find it, just check the instructions on the machine.

Wash this drawer in a sink of warm, soapy water. Give everything a good scrub, then reassemble.

You can also clean the filter. This should be done every four to six weeks. It’s located at the bottom of the machine and might be concealed with a small cover. A bit of water will leak out when you take the cover off, so lay down some towels to protect your floor. Unscrew the filter, and clean it by running it under hot water.

3) Keep Your Machine Level

There are several tips you should follow in relation to where your washing machine is placed and how it is positioned that can play a big role in how well it functions.

For example, you need to make sure there are at least four inches between the wall and your washing machine to prevent your hoses from kinking. Keep the machine level, as one that is off-kilter, even slightly, can rock, vibrate, or walk across the floor during the spin cycle. This can damage your machine and your floor in the process.

You can balance out your washer by turning the legs clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on which way you need to go.

4) (Don’t) Keep a Lid On It

Between wash cycles, keep the lid open. This will prevent mildew and musty odors, allowing the unit to dry out and stay smelling fresh between cycles. Between wash cycles, you can wipe down the rubber seal around the door, too.

5) Always Measure Your Detergent

True fact – most of us are using way too much laundry detergent. Make sure you read the instruction manual that comes with your machine to figure out if you’re using the ideal amount. Using too much soap can leave behind residue on your clothes while also causing excessive wear and tear to your washer.

Not only that, but you might be using the wrong type of detergent, too. High-efficiency washers need special low-sudsing detergents.

6) Avoid Overloading the Machine

A too-full washing machine is not only not going to wash your clothes as effectively, but it’s going to become more worn down over time, too. Use the right amount of water for the load and wash bulky or heavy items in smaller loads, since these can be harder on your machine.

At the same time, you should avoid totally underloading the machine, too. You can extend the life of your machine by only washing full loads – washing just a handful of garments will cause your utility bills to skyrocket and shorten the lifespan of your washing machine.

7) Add a Drip Pan

This isn’t a tip that will necessarily help to protect your washing machine, exactly, but it can protect your floor. It’s an especially good idea if you have a laundry room that is located on an upper level of a home. Slide a drip pan beneath the machine to prevent any water damage to the floors below.

8) Inspect the Hoses

About once a month, make sure the hoses contain no cracks or bulges. Also, check to make sure the fittings are tight. This will prevent you from wasting water and can also help your machine operate more effectively.

Be sure to check the condition of the outlet or drain hose – this component removes the lint, fabric particles,and dirty water, so this debris can often build up and block the pipe.

9) Transfer Clothes Immediately

Don’t let your clothes hang out in the washer once they’re clean. Instead, transfer them to the dryer as soon as you can. This will prevent the growth of mildew and mold.

10) Protect the Finish

It’s not just the inside of the washing machine that you need to keep clean and functional but the outside, too. An old washing machine will make the entire room run-down and messy.

hat’s why it’s so important that you clean the outside and top of the machine, too. Wipe down your machine with a glass cleaner so you don’t damage the finish.

Don’t store heavy items on top of the machine – this can prevent scratches from developing. If you spill detergent on top, you can clean it up with a mild dishwashing solution.

11) Avoid LIquid Fabric Softener

If you can go without it, skip the liquid fabric softener. IT will leave a residue behind on your clothes – while it might seem like they’re softer, they don’t get cleaned as well. This also prevents many necessary performance features in things like workout clothes.

12) Pick the Proper Spin Speed

Even the spin speed matters when it comes to keeping your washing machine in good shape! Although a higher spin speed might help you dry clothes better prior to putting them in the dryer, it also means more wear and tear on the internal parts of the machine – this can shorten its lifespan quite dramatically.

13) Check your Pockets

Always check your pockets before throwing clothes in the wash. Skipping these two isn’t a good idea just to protect the items that might be in the pockets but also for keeping your washing machine in good working condition. Metal items, such as keys and coins, can cause damage to the inner tub of the washer. Get them out before you run a load of wash.

If you do forget, just make sure you clean the drain pump filter on your washer regularly (if it’s a front-loading washer).

14) It’s a Balancing Act

When you’re loading clothes into a washer, make sure you balance loads around the drum (if it’s a top loading machine). If they aren’t loaded in a balanced, even way, it can prevent the clothes from spinning evenly and freely.

Rather than guiding normally in the track, the drum will tilt to the side and start scraping in the track. You might even hear thumping or scraping sounds. This is a bad sign!

If you start hearing sounds like this, stop the washer and balance it out. Then you can turn it back on. Don’t let the machine keep running while the load is imbalanced, as this can cause damage to the machine.

15) Check the Door Gaskets

Closely examine the door gaskets for moisture (if you have a front-loader machine). Often, when moisture is present, this can cause mildew and mold to accumulate, making it hard for the door to seal properly during the wash cycle.

After each use, wipe the gaskets dry. Let the door stay open so that the air can circulate and dry up any remaining moisture.

Do you already follow these tips – or have some you’d like to recommend instead? If you have a different way of maintaining your washer I’d love to hear from you! Be sure to pin this on Pinterest for later!

washing machine maintenance pinterest image

updated 08/10/2021

7 thoughts on “15 Tips to Keep Your Washing Machine Going Longer”

  1. My mother always used Tang powdered drink mix to keep the washing machine clean and mineral deposit free. She’d run an empty load with tang powder in it and then one wash with plain hot water every month. It kept the washer clean and running well for many years.

  2. Leave the door open with your front load machine. That should fix the odor problem.

    A washer repairman once told be to avoid powdered laundry products, especially laundry soap. He said a majority of repairs he did were caused by powdered soap and detergents. He was repairing a front-load commercial washer we had bought from a diaper service. He pulled out two SOFTBALL sized lumps of product as an example! I have since done just that, buying only liquid detergents, using powdered additives sparingly and never making my own out of bar soap that has questionable dissolving properties with well water. 10 years and counting with no problems.
    A commercial washer is a great deal if you can find one used and don’t mind paying to have it installed correctly. A regular washer will last about 3months in a laundry mat, compared to years with a commercial washer and it is made to be easily repaired. It does three times as many clothes at a time or 2-3 sleeping bags. I got mine used and it is still going strong 20 years and one replaced belt later.

    • Jessica-

      Unfortunately, front loading washing machines have a bad reputation of developing bad odors after some time. I looked around, but I haven’t come across anything that is said to help this problem. Even the odor removing products recommended don’t seem to work well. I’ll keep looking though, and let you know if I find anything!

  3. this is a tip I can really use, Im sure mine needs cleaning out, a couple of times Ive took the agitator out and cleaned unbelivable gooky crud out from under there. thats when I quit using the softner dispenser and instead use a downy ball. I have a frigedaire washer, I wont buy one again, but I made peace with it. I’ll use it as long as possible. It seems to me that it dosent agitate as strong as my other one I used to have. thanks for the tip!


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