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12 Tips for DIY Washer & Dryer Maintenance

Washer and dryer in laundry room

Doing a washer and dryer tune up may seem like a difficult task, but believe it or not, taking care of these two powerful home appliances is something you can usually conquer all by yourself. Whether you’re cleaning out a filter or confirming a part is working, you may be able to skip getting professional help with the right guidance and tools. This can save you a lot of money, while still ensuring that your favorite items can be cleaned for years to come. Follow along for 12 DIY washer and dryer maintenance tips.

Do Washers and Dryers Need Maintenance?

Washers and dryers must be maintained on a regular basis. Without proper care, you can run into costly repairs or replacements. To steer clear of issues, consistently clean and inspect both machines.

Maintenance Tips for Washing Machines

Whether you use a front-loading or top-loading washer, follow the guidelines below to get the most out of your machine:

Perform periodic maintenance washes.

Whenever you use your washer, detergent, scent boosters, or other products, debris from your clothes may stick to parts of the drum. Two or three times a year, run a maintenance wash to eliminate dirt, grease, and additional buildup.

How to clean a front-loading washing machine

  1. Add two cups of white vinegar to your washer’s drum or detergent tray.
  2. Run a rinse cycle at the hottest setting to remove buildup.
  3. Repeat with bleach or hydrogen peroxide to sanitize.
  4. Run another rinse cycle to flush out what remains.
  5. Take removable parts (bleach dispenser, fabric softener dispenser, etc.) and soak in warm, soapy water. Remove additional residue with a sponge or cleaning rag, dry, and return parts to washer.
  6. Clean the seal on the machine’s door and the washer’s exterior.

How to clean a top-loading washing machine

  1. Fill the washer drum with hot water and add one quart of bleach or hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Let mixture soak for one hour.
  3. Run a hot water wash cycle.
  4. Repeat using one quart of vinegar.
  5. Prior to repeating hot water wash cycle, dip a cloth or sponge into the vinegar mixture and wipe down the machine.

Inspect hoses.

Look at the hoses that connect the back of your washer to your home’s water supply a few times a year. If you notice cracks or breaks:

  • Unplug the machine.
  • Turn off the water supply for the hoses.
  • Head to a hardware store to purchase braided metal hoses that won’t split open as replacements.
  • Follow DIY video guides on how to re-install the hoses by yourself.

Replacements should happen every five years. During the in-between years, clean out the hose filters and screens for smooth water flow.

Look for rust.

With so much water usage and moisture, rust can easily form on washers. Because rust can leave unsightly stains and lead to corrosion, treat interior rust by filling your machine with hot water, adding two cups of vinegar or lemon juice, letting the solution sit for one hour, and running a wash cycle. Fill in any scratches or markings on the outside of your washer with rust-proof metal primer and touch-up paint from a hardware or home supply store.  

Level out the machine.

You’ve probably heard your washing machine sound like it was moving during a cycle, and it actually might have! You can limit movement, disruptions, and machine and floor damage by adjusting your washer’s “legs” to level the machine. Turn them clockwise to lower or counterclockwise to raise until balanced. Also, confirm your washer has space between the wall and your dryer to mitigate damage if movement does occur.

Clean the lint filter.

Lint can be left behind as fabrics release fibers during the washing cycle. In older washing machines, that lint gets trapped in a filter on the rim of the washer drum or inside the agitator. Periodically remove that filter and soak it in hot water and soap for at least ten minutes. For newer models with disposable filters, replace them monthly.

Place a drip pan underneath the machine.

A drip pan underneath your washer helps keep small water leaks, drips, and spills under control. While not required, it’s smart to have one as a precaution, especially if your washer isn’t on the ground floor. Purchase one from your local hardware store for peace of mind with leaks and flooding.

Maintenance Tips for Your Dryer

Person performing maintenance on a washer and dryer

Once washing is done, your dryer takes over, heating clothes up so they feel cozy when you put them on. However, that heat can be dangerous if the machine isn’t maintained. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association reports that 92% of home structure fires from 2010-2014 involved dryers. To prevent a fire, follow these dryer maintenance tips:

Clean the dryer’s venting system.

Buildup forms in your dryer’s ventilation with every use. You should clear out the system at least once a year. This will require you to disconnect your dryer from the wall and remove the vent duct (have a screwdriver ready!).

Once your dryer is fully unplugged, use a cleaning brush and the hose attachment on your vacuum to clean out dust and lint. You’ll also want to make sure that the vent on the outside of your home is unobstructed. With a clean vent, you not only avoid fires, but also speed up drying cycles.

Clear out lint after each load.

Just like your washer, lint is also trapped during drying by a screen, usually located in the door or at the top of the dryer. To avoid hazardous buildup:

  • Remove the lint screen after each load.
  • Clean it using a long brush or handheld vacuum.
  • Shine a flashlight where the screen is, and clean the area as needed.

Wipe down the drum.    

Dust and lint can accumulate in your dryer’s drum and pose a fire risk. Once a month, take a damp washcloth or rag and wipe down the drum to collect dust or loose threads for a clear and clean space.

Inspect the belt.

All dryers use a part known as a belt to turn. Typically located in the interior of the machine, the part can often be inspected and replaced without professional help. You’ll likely need a screwdriver to remove the top portion of the machine and look directly at the drum with the belt wrapped around it.

You should replace the belt if it isn’t resistant to you pulling on it when the machine isn’t running. Your machine may also start to make a thumping sound as the belt wears down, or the drying cycle may stop long before it’s supposed to.

Beyond the Washer and Dryer Tune Up: DIY Projects vs. Professional Help

Professional doing maintenance on a washer and dryer

When you leverage these 12 tips for a washer and dryer tune up, your washer and dryer will stay in tip-top shape for years to come. For washers, remember to run maintenance cycles, inspect hoses, look for rust, level out the machine, clean the lint filter, and use a drip pan. For dryer maintenance tips, clean the venting system, clear out lint, wipe down the drum, and inspect the belt.

Luckily, you can do most washer and dryer maintenance on your own, but sometimes, tasks around the house may be tough to handle solo. For help, check out our article, “When to DIY vs. When to Hire a Pro.” In it, we review top considerations when deciding the best way to care for your home.

Washer and Dryer Tune Up FAQs

How often should I do maintenance on my washer and dryer?

You should check on your washer and dryer at least once a month and make repairs as needed.

What maintenance should be done on my washer and dryer?

Both machines should have their interiors and exteriors cleaned regularly. Additionally, any filters, hoses, and ventilation compartments should be cleaned and checked for damage

How do you know if your washer needs to be cleaned?

Washers that need cleaning often emit a bad odor that sticks to your clothes.

Do washers and dryers need to be cleaned?

Yes, washers and dryers need to be cleaned on a regular basis to remove dirt, grime, and buildup of debris and laundry products.