Washing machines are a great modern convenience that, if you’re like us, you probably take for granted. A lot of energy and resources go into each load of whites or darks (or a load of once-whites that has turned to now-pinks), so keeping your machine running efficiently is, in fact, quite important. Oh, and having it smell like anything other than mildew isn’t so bad either.
We don’t want to bore you, but we found some numbers that may help you see why a clean-running washing machine matters. Standard washers use about 27 gallons per load while more efficient machines can use as little as 14 gallons. And that’s just water. You also have to factor in electricity, which floats around the 2.5 electricity units region for every hour of laundry.
For reference, an iron uses roughly 0.75 units per hour. A clean machine is a happy machine (or something like that), and a happy machine will inherently be more efficient. It’s science.
That’s why we’ve compiled this list of three ways to clean your washing machine. It’s not only good for your clothing, but it’s also good for the planet. And your health (mildew, yuck). And your bills. And your washing machine’s happiness. We digress.
Method 1: Vinegar and Baking Soda
To use vinegar and baking soda, follow this homemade concoction for cleaning your front-loading washer:
- 2 cups vinegar
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 1/2 cup water
- scrub sponge
First, mix the baking soda and water. You’ll pour this where you normally put detergent, and you’ll pour the vinegar into the place the clothes go. Crank the water heat all the way up, start your machine, and let it run through a cycle.
When the cycle is finished, scrub any other areas with your sponge and water. Voila!
Method 2: Citric Acid and Baking Soda
Vinegar and citric acids are both relatively weak acids, so this one isn’t too far off from the first method.
- 1 cups citric acid powder
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 6 to 24 drops essential oils (optional)
Mix your baking soda and citric acid powder in a jar without adding water. Add essential oils (lavender and tea tree oil), breaking up any clump that may form with a spoon. Put a lid on the jar, shake it, and put four tablespoons of the mixture where the detergent normally goes on your washer.
Let a cycle run until the unit is filled with water, pause the cycle, and let it sit for a few hours. Then, resume the cycle and enjoy your freshly cleaned washing machine.
Method 3: Homemade Chlorine Bleach
One Good Thing By Jillee says that chlorine bleach is a great way to get rid of unfortunate smells in your washer while also disinfecting it. One quart of chlorine bleach is suggested, but we think making your own may have some perks.
An article by Tactical Intelligence says that “the average shelf life of liquid bleach (being stored between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit) is around 6 months. After that, bleach will lose 20 percent of its strength at around the year mark and then 20 percent each year after that.”
They continue, saying, “So if you’re not vigilant about keeping it rotated, chances are when you need it for disinfecting water or to keep things clean you’ll be fresh out of bleach and luck.”
Here’s what you’ll need to mix in order to make your own bleach:
- 2 level tablespoons of calcium hypochlorite
- 3 cups of water
From there, you’ll have to do a little bit of math. Or science. We’re not really sure, but the Tactical Intelligence article tells you everything you need to know that we’re not, err, certified to tell you. Again, it’s simply science.