Housekeeping : Cleaning The Washing Machine

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Frankly, I felt like throwing away my 3 year old washing machine after cleaning it with the $2 detergent from Daiso.  The type of grime that surfaced after a 6-hour soak surprised me.  The clean freak in me just wanted to start afresh with a brand new one after learning how much gunk there is in a machine that is supposed to keep my laundry clean.  But there are some features that I really like about this washer, which I do not see in the current models.  So it is better to maintain a strict cleaning schedule for the washer, than to spend money on a new one which will eventually become dirty if neglected.

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Why do I like my current washer?  First of all, it has a TUB DRY function.  I am not sure what exactly this is, but I know that the machine needs to be as dry as possible to  prevent mold and mildew from growing inside the washing machine.  The manual stated that this feature will allow water to evaporate from the tub; sounds like all machines should have this button, who will want the washer to remain wet after use?

Maybe this feature is a given in all other washers, but my hope is that the tub dry function actually opens up whatever “inlet/outlet” it has to improve air circulation, allowing the tub/drum and other inner surfaces to dry up as much as possible before the next use.

Secondly, the washer includes a TUB CLEANING mode, see that sparkle and shine drawing on the panel?  Again, I am unsure of its effectiveness; if it has any special motion programmed to really clean up the tub and wonder if this 54-minutes of spinning alone is enough to keep it clean; the user manual recommends “chlorine-type” detergent, so I use bleach only.  So far, that is all I do to clean the washer.

Lately, I found out about the availability of special washing detergent for washing machine from a Taiwanese home shopping channel.  One thing led to another, I saw pictures like this, video like this and a homemade version like this, and decided to try a washer detergent that I found in Daiso.  I have seen similar ones being sold at a Japanese supermarket, but they cost a lot more.

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This box of washer detergent from Daiso comes with two individual sachets, 75g for each use.  I open up a sachet and pour the white powder into the machine while it is loading itself with water.  By the time the water level reaches the full load mark, I notice some black stuff floating around.  They look similar to the black flakes that occasionally attach themselves to my clean laundry.  I pause the cycle at this juncture, and let the tub soak in the solution for 6 hours.

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(photo above) These delightful looking bubbles appear after a few hours, letting me feel that the detergent is working, indication of cleaning in progress.
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After 6 hours, I switch on the machine again to continue its cleaning cycle.  As the washer start spinning, more dirt surface.  By now, I am pretty convinced that my earlier rounds of tub cleaning sessions have worked, even with bleach only.  If you think mine is dirty, take a look at this user’s account.

I decided that it is better to sieve out these floating particles than to leave them to drain on their own, in case they get stuck somewhere along the pipes and remain inside the washer.

(photo below) The small strainer  will be used for cleaning washing machine only from now on.

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After the machine has finished its entire tub cleaning mode, I decided to do another rinse cycle, as the instruction on the box stated 2 rinse cycles after the soak.  I threw in a clean towel, to see if I can get more of those “flakes” to attach themselves onto the towel, to check if the washer is really clean.  True enough, there were more :cleaning washingmachine 006
I became satisfied only after another 2 rounds of rinsing.  Makes me wonder if my 3 year old machine can be this dirty, what about my previous one that lasted for a good 10 years?

5 habits to stay after this enlightenment session:
// remove laundry immediately after the cycle is completed
// always keep the washer lid open when not using
// program tub dry function as auto
// stick to a monthly cleaning schedule, either with detergent, homemade mixture of baking soda + vinegar, or just vinegar
// avoid adding excessive amount wash detergent and stay away from fabric softeners to prevent residue built up inside the machine.  Instead, add baking soda to increase the effectiveness of the washing powder or salt as alternative to softeners.

One thought on “Housekeeping : Cleaning The Washing Machine

  1. Thanks for this. I had the same problem and thought that it was the pump filter that needed cleaning. After researching I found out that my Samsung top loader washing machine has no pump filter so I rang their support line and the guy told me to do three hot water full cycles with vinegar added. I have done FIVE cycles and there is still a bit of gunk left. Like you, I sieved out the flakes in case they don’t drain out. The things you don’t see ‘behind the scenes’!


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