Can I Run My Washing Machine Empty to Clean It?

Yes, you can run your washing machine empty to clean it. In fact, this is a recommended practice to keep your washer fresh and hygienic. Running an empty cycle with hot water and vinegar or bleach can help remove dirt, soap residue, and bacteria from the drum, hoses, and seals of your machine. This can improve the performance and lifespan of your washer, as well as prevent unpleasant odors and stains on your clothes.

However, running an empty cycle is not enough to maintain your washing machine. You also need to follow some other tips and tricks to keep it in good shape. Here are some of the best ways to clean and care for your washer:

Clean the Dispenser Drawer

The dispenser drawer is where you put the detergent, fabric softener, and bleach for your laundry. Over time, this can get clogged with leftover product, dirt, and mold. To clean it, you need to remove the drawer from the machine and soak it in hot water and vinegar for about an hour. Then, scrub it with a soft brush or sponge and rinse it well. You can also use a toothpick or cotton swab to clean the holes and crevices of the drawer. Make sure to dry it thoroughly before putting it back in the machine.

Clean the Door Seal

The door seal is the rubber gasket that prevents water from leaking out of the machine. It can also trap dirt, lint, hair, and mold, which can cause bad smells and damage the seal. To clean it, you need to wipe it with a damp cloth and vinegar or bleach. You can also use a toothbrush or an old towel to scrub the folds and corners of the seal. Be careful not to tear or puncture the seal, as this can affect the functionality of the machine.

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Clean the Filter

The filter is the part of the machine that catches debris and foreign objects that may enter the drum, such as coins, buttons, or hairpins. It can also get clogged with lint, dirt, and soap scum, which can reduce the water flow and drainage of the machine. To clean it, you need to locate the filter, which is usually behind a small door or panel at the bottom of the machine. You may need to unscrew or unclip the door or panel to access the filter. Then, you need to pull out the filter and rinse it under running water. You can also use a brush or a cloth to remove any stubborn dirt. Make sure to replace the filter securely and close the door or panel properly.

Clean the Exterior

The exterior of the machine is the part that you see and touch every day. It can also get dirty and dusty, which can affect the appearance and hygiene of the machine. To clean it, you need to wipe it with a damp cloth and a mild detergent or all-purpose cleaner. You can also use a microfiber cloth or a paper towel to polish the surface and remove any fingerprints or smudges. Avoid using abrasive or harsh cleaners, as they can scratch or damage the finish of the machine.

Run a Self-Cleaning Cycle

Some washing machines have a self-cleaning cycle or a tub clean cycle, which is designed to sanitize and deodorize the drum and the pipes of the machine. This cycle uses hot water and high speed to remove any dirt, residue, and bacteria from the machine. To run this cycle, you need to follow the instructions in your user manual or on the control panel of the machine. You may also need to add some vinegar or bleach to the dispenser drawer or directly to the drum. Do not add any clothes or detergent to this cycle. Run this cycle at least once a month or as often as needed.

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Run an Empty Cycle with Vinegar or Bleach

If your washing machine does not have a self-cleaning cycle or a tub clean cycle, you can still run an empty cycle with vinegar or bleach to clean it. Vinegar and bleach are natural disinfectants that can kill germs and remove odors from the machine. To run this cycle, you need to fill the dispenser drawer or the drum with one cup of white vinegar or bleach. Then, select the hottest and longest cycle available on your machine. Do not add any clothes or detergent to this cycle. Run this cycle at least once a month or as often as needed.

Leave the Door Open

One of the simplest and most effective ways to keep your washing machine clean and fresh is to leave the door open after each cycle. This allows the air to circulate and dry the drum, the seal, and the dispenser drawer, which prevents moisture and mold from building up. You can also wipe the inside of the door and the drum with a dry cloth or a paper towel to speed up the drying process. However, be careful not to leave the door open for too long, as this can attract dust and insects to the machine.

Conclusion

Running your washing machine empty to clean it is a smart and easy way to keep it in good condition. However, you also need to follow some other steps to ensure the cleanliness and efficiency of your machine. By cleaning the dispenser drawer, the door seal, the filter, and the exterior of the machine, running a self-cleaning cycle or an empty cycle with vinegar or bleach, and leaving the door open after each cycle, you can extend the life and performance of your washer, as well as enjoy fresh and clean laundry every time.