Reviewed by Jason Plante
Updated September 2, 2022
Washers and dryers are necessary but expensive purchases for a homeowner, and you expect them to work hard for you. This is especially true if you have active children or work outdoors yourself. Given how much you can come to rely on these appliances, it’s important to treat them with care.
It’s easy to assume that new washing machines and dryers will run forever. They are, however, machines with moving parts, and they need just a bit of basic maintenance and upkeep to prolong their working lives. Follow these important tips for protecting your washer and dryer.
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Don’t overload either your washer or dryer. Doing so means additional wear and tear on the motor, the suspension, and the bearings. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for capacity or, as a rule of thumb, never fill the drum much more than halfway. Smaller loads also reduce energy usage.
Plug your washer and dryer into a surge protector. Why take a chance of them being affected by a lightning strike or a power surge? Also, be sure that you keep your washer level. An improperly angled washer will cause vibrations and could lead to motor damage, or damage to the floor underneath the machine.
You CAN have too much of a good thing. Adding too much soap to the wash water can leave clothes dingy and may damage your machine’s sensitive control panel. Also, if you’re out of laundry detergent, never substitute dishwashing liquid. Its high-foaming action is injurious to washers.
Zippers can get caught in the drum of your washer and cause problems. They can also scratch the glass on front-loading washers and may even contribute to the glass panel exploding. Be sure to zip up all the zippers on your clothing before placing them in the washer.
Those closure hooks and underwires on bras can get snagged on the drum of the washer. Place them in a specially designed mesh bag, or an old pillowcase tied at the top to prevent them from catching.
Loose coins are a hazard that damage the drum and the glass door of your machine. Check all pockets carefully for loose coins before loading the washer; as an incentive, allow whoever does the load to keep any coins they find.
Cold water washes save energy and preserve natural fibers, but your machine needs a maintenance cycle now and then. To keep your washer running well and smelling good, every month or so, pour in a cup of vinegar and run it empty, on its hottest cycle.
Don’t leave your clean, wet clothes in the washer for hours on end; remove them promptly and pop them in the dryer before both the clothes and the machine get mouldy.
When you have finished a load of laundry, leave the lid up so that the washer can air out and water can evaporate. Even a bit of lingering water can lead to mould or mildew. In addition, when you go on vacation, shut off the water to the washer so that pressure doesn’t build up and cause the hose to leak.
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Dryers need unobstructed airflow to operate properly. Clean the lint trap after each use to ensure that the air can flow freely and to remove a potential fire hazard.
Exhaust ducts are other places where lint can gather, causing your clothes to dry more slowly and using more energy than necessary. Vacuum the duct every few months to prevent lint build-up, which is also a fire hazard. While vacuuming the duct, which should vent outside the house, be sure the vent isn’t blocked in any way.
It can’t be emphasized enough: Don’t overload your dryer. There are several reasons why it’s a bad idea:
Too hot to handle. A load that’s too large can cause your dryer to overheat. The motor can wear out quickly if it’s regularly forced to work too hard. Motor repair is expensive, so you could end up replacing the dryer itself if you’re not careful with the load size.
Hung out to dry. A packed dryer leads to poor airflow, which means your clothes won’t dry properly. You’ll end up running it longer than you should, using more energy, or you’ll need to hang the clothes to finish drying them. In addition, loads that are bunched up have many more wrinkles than smaller loads, which means more time spent ironing later.
Internal injuries. Heavy loads cause additional wear and tear on the dryer’s parts: belts, pulleys, and spindles. If you find yourself replacing them every few months, it’s a signal that the dryer is working too hard.
Remember, you need to take care of your washer and dryer so they can take care of you. Follow these tips and you shouldn’t have any major problems.
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About the expert: Jason Plante
Jason Plante is the Operations Manager for Priority Appliance Service Ltd. Jason manages a team of dedicated staff and technicians. Prior to joining Priority, Jason Plante spent many years in logistics, process improvement, and data analytics, and helped build a successful financial technology company from 18 to over 200 employees, before being acquired by PayPal.
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