Your washing machine is a workhorse—it gets even your stinky yoga pants, your sports bras, and your kids’ grimy socks clean!—but it also needs some rejuvenating of its own every so often. That’s because dirt, detergent, and minerals from hard water can build up on the interior, and mold and mildew can accumulate in the door or lid, all of which can lead to odors and keep your machine from performing well.
The good news: Cleanup is quick and easy. Try a bleach-free residue remover made with natural enzymes (like Real Simple Clean Washing Machine Cleaner, $7, realsimpleclean.com). Spritz the interior after each load and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before running the next one. Or go with a once-a-month dissolving tablet cleaner (like Affresh Washer Cleaner, $10 for five, walmart.com)—just pop it in and run the machine empty on a hot cycle.
Another tip to keep your appliance free of gunk: Leave the washing machine’s lid open between every use—if you air-dry, you can curb future mold and mildew growth.
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And keep this bit of washing machine wisdom in mind too: If your appliance has a black rubber hose, you may want to replace it, even if it’s held up well so far; over time, it can blister and tear, causing a flood, according to the pros at RepairClinic.com. Stainless steel hoses are sturdier and typically live as long as the washing machine itself, whereas the black rubber versions generally last only two or three years.