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Cleaning Your Washing Machine – Is It Required?

Cleaning-Washing-Machine

Gone are the days when the clothes used to be washed by hand. Maybe you saw your grandmother washing by hand, but now that is unthinkable. Modern technology, just like in every other area, has made washing super easy. There is a variety of washing machines to suit your every need and purpose available in the market. But are washing machines a healthy option? Or do they pose a risk to your health and, as such, should be avoided? This article will help you in knowing whether your washing machine is safe and also how you can make it safe for you and your family.

How does Washing Machine Work?

Washing machines work on a simple concept. This is explained below:

  • The dirty clothes are put in the drum.
  • The detergent and the clothes soften is added to the detergent space.
  • Then the machine pumps water through this space to add the detergent and the softener to the clothes in the drum.
  • The drum runs the cycle according to the cycle option you have chosen.
  • The dirty water is drained through the washer in the machine, and freshwater added to the drum multiple times to clean and rinse the clothes.
  • At the end of the cycle, all the remaining water is drained, and the machine runs a drying cycle in which the clothes are exhausted from water.

Hence your washing machine runs through all the dirt and grime in your clothes daily.

How Clean Is Your Washing Machine?

Given the nature and the use of a washing machine, it is needless to say that your washing machine is probably not that clean. Your clothes might become dirtier after going through your washing machine. It is a very common misperception that since washing machine cleans the clothes, it, by default, gets clean as well with the daily washing. This is not true.

After washing the grime off your clothes daily, the washing machine does tend to become dirty and icky. Add to that the high levels of humidity contained within the washer, and you have a perfect hot spot for the creation of:

  • Mould
  • Slime
  • Fungus
  • Bacteria
  • Germs

The biggest culprit in washing machine contamination is undergarments. These small articles of clothing contain different types of bacteria because of the presence of fecal matter and other substances. Some bacteria and virus present in the undergarments are:

  • Hepatitis A virus
  • Norovirus
  • Rotavirus
  • Salmonella
  • E-coli

These bacteria then attach themselves to the washing machine washer and breed in the perfect humid conditions found within the washing machine. Washing machines then, in turn, contaminate your clothes.

A particular study found the link of infant clothing contaminated with multidrug-resistant pathogens in a German Children’s Hospital with the washing machines used in the laundry.

Is It Safe to Use A Washing Machine?

After understanding that your washing machine probably carries more germs and infection-causing bacteria than your clothes, the question that arises is how safe it is to use washing machines. And even if you should use a washing machine or shun them altogether?

There is no cause for worry. Washing machines can be very safe to use. As long as you maintain hygiene, follow the instructions carefully, and bear a few things in mind, you should not face any health problems. Some of these factors you should consider are listed below:

Cleaning: Make sure you take the efforts to clean your washing machine regularly. There is nothing more effective and important in keeping your washing machine safe and hygienic.

Temperature: Unfortunately, there has been a shift in the perception of using washing machines. People are trying to be more:

  • Economical
  • Decrease power consumption
  • Environment friendly

This has given rise to a lot of people using low temperatures and softer detergents. However, these methods though being greener, come with a cost to your health. A press release by the American Society for Microbiology states that lower temperatures do not kill the bacteria and germs present in your clothes effectively.  Apart from this, they do not kill the bacteria in the washing machine as well. Studies show that washing machines have about 100 million E.coli at any particular time.

Sun: Sun is the most effective method of getting rid of any germs on the clothes post washing. The Ultra Violet Rays will kill all the germs. So skip the dryer if your climate allows it and let the sun sanitize your clothes naturally.

Hence always try to wash at high temperatures whenever possible despite the added power consumption and cost to your wallet, especially if you have infants, elderly, or sick and ill family members.

Cleaning Your Washing Machine

For your health, you need to ensure that your washing machine is clean. After all, how clean can you expect your clothes to be clean if your washing machine isn’t clean? However, people generally do not even think of cleaning their washing machines. The washing machine gets very dirty because of the daily washing that it does.

It is recommended that you wash and scale your washing machine at least once a month using a professional scaling solution. Generally, the areas you need to concentrate on while cleaning include:

  • Detergent Drawer
  • Rubber Seals
  • Washing Drum

You can even use basic kitchen products to clean your washing machine more frequently. Given the nature of these kitchen products, your washing machine will not get damaged with the frequent cleaning. This will give you the mental assurance that your washing machine is clean as well.

So how do you clean your washing machine? A step by step method is listed below to get you started on the washing machine cleaning:

  • Gasket and Door Seals: It is best to start with the outside of the washing machine. Pack up the gasket and the door seals with a towel or cloth soaked with either:
    • Hydrogen Peroxide
    • White Vinegar

Remove the cloth/ towel after an hour and wipe the area clean. It there is still some residual grime, then you can use a toothbrush or some other small brush to remove it.

  • Washer setting: Turn the washer’s setting to the hottest and the longest supported by your washing machine. If your washing machine only supports cold water and does not have the temperature control feature, don’t worry. The cleaning works with cold water as well.
  • Next, in the case of:
    • Front loading: Fill your washing machine’s dispenser with the preferred solution and start the wash cycle
    • Top loading: Let the water run a few times then add the solution to the water in the drum
  • While the cycle runs, wipe down the front of the washing machine with a cloth and white vinegar.
  • After the first cycle is finished, run a second cycle. If needed, you can add a dash of vinegar to this cycle as well. This will take care of any residual grime and muck in the washing machine.
  • Leave the door of the machine opens for a while to dry and air the machine. This is important to prevent any odor or mildew from developing.
  • Lastly, clean the dispenser and the filter of the machine with white vinegar or professional solution.

Top 5 Homemade Solutions for Cleaning Washing Machine

Using a professional cleaning solution for the washing machine is always good and recommended. However, these solutions are harsh and can harm your machine if used too frequently. Also, they can burn a hole in your pocket. There are other alternatives available to you that are both economical and machine friendly. Five of the most convenient and easy homemade solutions are:

  1. Baking Soda and Vinegar: Mix ½ cup baking soda with 1 liter of vinegar. This solution effectively takes care of both odor and limestone deposits. However, vinegar is a very mild form of acetic acid and not strong enough to kill all of the mold and bacteria. So if your washing machine has large mildew and fungus problem reach for a stronger solution than this.
  2. Detergent and Bleach: Use a mix of enzyme detergent and oxygen bleach to run the cycle. Use the powdered detergent over the liquid form. Some good options are:
  • Chemarts Enzymatic Detergent Powder
  • Active Wear Laundry Detergent
  • Alconox 1304 Tergazyme Anionic Detergent

This mix is good for getting rid of any sticky residue in your machine.

  1. Citric Acid: Mix 1 cup of citric acid and ½ cup of baking soda. Add to the dispenser and run an empty cycle. Citric acid is stronger than vinegar and is very effective against all sorts of mildew, fungus, and other builds – up. Mixing it with baking soda deodorizes the machine as well.
  2. Hydrogen Peroxide: Simply using about 1 liter of hydrogen peroxide with water to make a solution. This solution is:
    • Anti – Viral
    • Anti-bacterial
    • Kills mold
    • Removes Limescale

Hydrogen peroxide is safer to use than chlorine bleach since it leaves behind no residual toxic fumes or traces of itself. Further, it is also environment friendly since it breaks down into oxygen and water and hence has no harmful effects.

However, on the downside, hydrogen peroxide takes some time to work. Hence you have to leave the solution sitting in your drum for at least 3 hours in case of top loaders. And with front loaders, you will have to run the cycle twice to effectively clean the drum.

Another thing to note with hydrogen peroxide is that you must use the 3% concentration solution. Anything above that is industry use and not recommended for household purposes.

  1. Chlorine Bleach: This is more toxic and harmful than hydrogen peroxide. And on the flip side, it is also not very effective for washing machines. This is because chlorine bleach cannot penetrate porous surfaces and hence does not reach the inner drum of the machine. Also, chlorine bleach can only be used in warm or cold temperatures, and it cannot be mixed with anything else.

Health Problems Associated with Washing Machine Usage

Dirty washing machines are about ten times dirtier than your average toilet seat and carry the potential to make your sick. Some health problems that arise when you do not clean your washing machine regularly are:

  • Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA, is very commonly found in washing machines. These can cause “Impetigo” and “Antibiotic-resistant rashes”.
  • E – Coli is known to cause diarrhea and digestive tract disorders
  • Salmonella again causes diarrhea
  • Rotavirus is responsible for vomiting, abdominal pain and severe diarrheal

All these bacteria and viruses are present in your washing machine, making you susceptible to these diseases. So how do you ensure that your washing machine is safe and free of bacteria? The answer is simple. You just have to clean your washing machine on a recurrent basis. Just schedule your washing machine cleaning, just like any other chore, and you are done.

Q and A Round

Some common queries are answered below for your convenience:

How Is A Smelly Washing Machine Cleaned?

The procedure to clean a smelly washing machine is pretty much the same as cleaning a normal washing machine. Just pour 2 cups of white vinegar into the drum and add 1/4th cup baking soda with 1/4ht cup water into the detergent space. Now run the washing machine for a normal cycle on high heat. This baking soda and vinegar will take care of the mold and the foul smell.

How Often Should Your Washing Machine Be Cleaned?

Generally, you should be cleaning at least once a month. However, the more often you clean, the better. Using a natural solution will not harm your washing machine and prevent any build-up of mold or fungus.

Why Does the Washing Machine Stink?

Over time there is a build-up of scum, slime, fungus, mold, and bacteria in the washing machine because of its very nature. This causes the washing machine to stink. Also, there could be a blockage in the washer of your machine. This will prevent the dirty water from draining properly, leading to stagnation, bacteria growth, and hence a foul odor.

Why Does the Washing Machine Smell Like Sewage?

A foul odor is a common washing machine problem. However, sewage smell is most probably because of plumbing problems. Try running an empty hot water cycle in the washing machine with one cup of distilled white vinegar. This should help restore water to the taps and release the trapped sewage gases in it.

In this day and age, washing machines are an essential part of modern life. However, washing machines are also a guest house of bacteria and germs. Just like the clothes they help you wash, you have to clean the washing machines also periodically to avoid any adverse health effects.

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How to Descale Washing Machine?

How to Descale Washing Machine?

Living in a location that has hard water creates a lot of problems. It is true that you could solve this problem for drinking water by using a water purifier,...

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