Hint: Everything you’ve seen on Pinterest is a lie.
After buying our home, hubby and I bought a new, high-efficiency front-load washing machine. I did all my research and chose one that was rated a “best buy” by Consumer Reports. I’m really into researching and overthinking things, especially things that cost several hundred dollars.
Fast forward five years, and the inside of our washing machine, looked like this:
No joke. That’s my actual washing machine. Those are my clothes in there.
Millennial homemaker that I am, I first looked for solutions on Pinterest. There are appealing pins floating around, describing how to keep a front-loader clean with vinegar.
People seem to have a magical thinking complex with vinegar. Like all you have to do is rinse something out with vinegar and all your dreams will come true.
Not the case.
If you read the articles attached to these pin, most explains how you actually need to do a whole lot of scrubbing before you get to the vinegar rinse part. Rinsing alone won’t cut it, except to maintain an already-clean washer.
Even rinsing and scrubbing got me nowhere with my front-loader. It was too far gone.
So, emboldened by the many encouraging comments on this past post, I bought a good old-fashioned, l water-guzzling, 12 year-old Maytag top-loader for $75 from Craigslist. The seller assured us it worked great for him; he was just replacing it with a high-efficiency front-loader (oh, the irony).
I wanted to make a really fresh start with this new-to-me washer, so I searched for advice on cleaning your top-loader. This post looked promising:
The formula was familiar: soak and rinse with bleach, soak and rinse with vinegar, do a little cosmetic wiping around the edges. Boom! Clean.
Well . . .
The first time I filled up the tank I noticed a bunch of flaky chunks of disgustitude floating around. I’m too genteel to say what it looked like except that it brought to mind the stomach flu and another porcelain appliance that fills with water.
I went through the bleach cycle and then filled the tank up again with water for a vinegar soak. Again, floating disgustitude. Repeat 2-3 more times: no change.
And here’s where the how-to (finally) begins:
Cleaning your washer takes more than vinegar. It takes guns.
These guns, plus an old toothbrush:
We My husband took the whole thing apart and this is what we found:
So, bless his heart, he scrubbed every nook and cranny. We filled up the tank again and–finally!–no more flakes.
What would have been interesting would have been to put it back together without scrubbing, use one of those washing machine cleaning solutions, and then take it back apart and see the difference (if any).
I’m doubtful it would do much good against that many years worth of gunk.
The guy who sold us the washer said it worked fine, and for various reasons we’re inclined to believe him. We’re thinking that the crud had been stuck in place for years and got loosened during the bumpy transport to our house and down our basement steps.
Most old washers, obviously, do not deposit flakes of disgustitude on clothes, at least not enough to notice. But the disgustitude is probably still there in hiding. So I plan to use an occasional vinegar rinse, or maybe the washing machine cleaner stuff, for maintenance.
But from time to time, I’ll have to call in the big guns.
And for now, we’re enjoying having truly clean clothes for the first time in years.