How the inside of washing machines is thoroughly cleaned

  • Derrick Dennis repairs and thoroughly cleans the interior of washing machineclothes dryers and appliances.
  • He completely dismantles the machines from top to bottom.
  • It cleans mold, mildew and rust buildup in machinery.

Derrick Dennis: Hello I am Derrick Dennis. I specialize in repair and clean washing machines, dryers, all major appliances. The two main types of washing machines I work on are top loaders and front loaders.

I’ll show you how I clean them. So this top load washer is, I would say, 15 to 17 years old. This machine here hasn’t been cleaned, I would say, since it was purchased.

The biggest problem with this, the abundance of buildup from overusing detergent, fabric softener, all the buildup you see is what’s causing that big ring around the top. The water doesn’t rise that high. That’s why you see the different levels. And then the buildup of mold. The perfect and ideal circumstances for mold and mildew to build up are humidity, darkness and heat. A buildup so common in these machines from overuse of high efficiency detergent and fabric softener, which you don’t need. This big buildup, you’re going to get rust, you’re going to get mold, mildew. 2 tablespoons of high-efficiency detergent and no fabric softener will make your machine last longer than throwing away a cup or two of fabric softener. And it doesn’t make your clothes cleaner.

I highly recommend removing fabric softener from your laundry routine. The reason I’m so against fabric softener is because when you use fabric softener, the reason it works is the reason it’s bad. So it builds up as an oily residue, because those enzymes got trapped inside your shirt, and so that’s what gives it an odor. So it’s not your fault, but eventually excessive use of high-efficiency detergent and fabric softener will cause your clothes to smell, even if they’re clean. So whenever we service a machine, we want to make sure we unplug it from any power source, and it’s good to turn off the water. So generally we start from the top down. The main thing is to remove the tub and clean the inner and outer baskets. That’s where all your smell comes from. With these direct-drive machines, a lot of times the feet get rusty, and we’ll either scrape them off or repaint them, make sure we get the cobwebs out, all that sort of thing. Sometimes we will find a small baby sock. We never know.

We like to use toothbrushes, brushes of different styles. You have pointed brushes, flat brushes. They all have different jobs, but brushes are very important. They are essential to everything we do. So the brushes really help to get in there and get into the nooks and crevices to clean out all that mold and mildew. Sometimes the pressure washer doesn’t get inside the balance ring, and we get hairs in there and we really put elbow grease there. My favorite cleanser is Pine-Sol, Bleach, Lysol. Vinegar is more what I recommend people use during a wash cycle. Distilled white vinegar contains acetic compounds that help kill certain bacteria.

When we pressure wash, we start with the outside first. We can get much better in the balance ring. A pressure washer, the water squeezes its way into all the crevices, and it does a much better job of removing all that mildew and detergent and fabric softener buildup all the way through the holes. Then we can just rinse it from the inside and we pretty much have a brand new basket. So steam cleaning usually comes after pressure washing just because we want to get some kind of final cleaning. The best thing about the steamer is that the water comes out at a very high temperature which helps to effectively sanitize any of those crevices or cracks or anything that we can’t just clean with a pressure washer or bleach.

So the front loader, the cleaning process, it’s similar, but it’s very different in the disassembly and just the orientation of the basket. I can’t completely remove a basket from a front loader. I can only clean the front half. Old-school top-loaders are built like tanks. Front loaders aren’t, but they clean your clothes better. They usually don’t need as much cleaning as a top loader due to the orientation and the way the water spins inside them, and the water actually keeps tubs cleaner .

Most of the smell we see is from the pump collecting lint and debris and people not cleaning it. And then you’re left with a smell, or because people don’t wipe their door seal every time they use the machine, they keep the door closed, and it just creates a mildew smell. As long as you keep the door open and wipe down the door seal and run a tablet of washing machine cleaner once a month or so, distilled white vinegar, it won’t smell. I can guarantee it. So with this front loader, it actually has a cleaning point for lint. It’s what protects your pump and it’s what helps reduce the odor inside. Pull the door down. We drain the water from this little one, it’s the drain pipe that actually pulls the water that’s left inside the pump. And then we take out the filter, clean it, and that’s it. It’s so simple.

I recommend doing this every 30 days, at least every six months, and it will prevent odors. This will make your washing machine last much longer. The average life of almost all washers is two or three years before the bearings die out, you know, just from, and it really comes from excessive detergent use. So when a detergent breaks down that oil and grease, the bearings rust, rust, and then your washing machine will sound like a jet plane taking off. It’s bad bearings. It’s really hard to get to if you can’t physically take these things apart and clean them yourself.

The best thing to do is preventative maintenance. 2 tbsp detergent, no fabric softener at all, but if you must use it, be sure to dilute it 50%. You know, when I sell someone a machine, I want them to know that I’ve sold them the cleanest used washing machine they can buy.

James G. Williams