For the homeowner, a washing machine is an investment. But no machine is designed to last forever. With proper care and maintenance, you can extend the life of your washer and continue to provide your family with clean clothes for years to come.
When you buy a washer and install it, or have it installed, don't think that you can leave it for years to come without a little upkeep and maintenance. Save yourself some trouble and money by considering these steps to maintain your washer.
Keep your machine level: Washing machines are very heavy appliances. When the machine is not level it will have a tendency to vibrate strongly during the spin cycle. If it is not level, that means all four legs touching the floor; it may rock back and forth and bang into walls or other appliances. In some cases it may travel across the room. When this happens, it's not good for the machine or anything in its path. To level the machine, adjust the front leveling legs to the proper height. While most machines have self-adjusting rear legs, some models will also have adjusting legs in the rear of the machine. Adjust the legs so that the machine is as close to the floor as possible.
Hoses: With normal use and with age, the water hoses that originally came with your washing machine may have a tendency to leak or burst. From time to time, it's a good idea to check those for wear and tear. Most manufacturers recommend that you replace these hoses every five years. Be very careful if a hose ruptures. Water can gush from the hose and often it can be hot, scalding water. You might opt to use stainless steel fill hoses.
Exterior cleaning: The cabinet of your washer will either be painted steel, stainless steel or a porcelain-coated steel cabinet. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning. For the painted steel or porcelain-coated steel it's fine to use a small amount of dish detergent and a damp rag to clean the surfaces.
Lint: Just like your dryer, a washer is going to collect lint during the wash cycle. Depending on the model, you likely either have a lint filter near the top of the tub or in the center tube of the agitator. On a regular basis, you need to clean this out.
Clean the tub: Every three months set the machine on hot and allow the tub to fill with water. When the tub is full, add three cups of distilled white vinegar and a half cup of baking soda. As the tub starts to drain, switch to the spin cycle. When that cycle completes, run another wash cycle on cold.
Detergent and fabric softener: There's nothing wrong with being frugal when it comes to using less detergent and fabric softener. Using a smaller amount of detergent doesn't mean your clothes won't get clean. Most of the time, liquid detergent is a better choice than powder. Dilute your fabric softener with water.
Have your machine services on a regular basis. Having a service person remove the front cover and clean the inside of your machine can help extend the life of your washer. Unless you are trained and experienced in washer maintenance, you should never try to do this on your own.