7 Simple Steps to Save Your Front Load Washer
With your purchase of a front-load washing machine, you’ve joined the millions of other Canadians who have chosen a high-efficiency unit to perform one of the most labor-intensive tasks in their household. Even though you may have spent more on it than your traditional top-load machine, it probably appealed to you for many reasons—they are gentler on clothing, reduce drying time as they extract more water, and save money on water, electricity and laundry detergent.
Follow these 7 simple steps to keep your front-load washer running at peak efficiency, reduce washer repair calls and make your laundry experience more enjoyable:
Step 1: Prevent Mold Growth
You may have heard about or experienced mold growth in your front-loading washing machine. This high-efficient equipment uses less water than other styles so powder detergent, fabric softener, and debris particles from dirty clothes are not completely washed away during the wash cycle. An accumulation of these substances often keep parts of the machine damp and more susceptible to mold growth.
In addition, washing in cold instead of hot water reduces wear on clothing but does not kill mold spores. As mold grows on the seals and drum of your equipment, you’ll begin to notice musty odours that can transfer to your clothing. To prevent mold and mildew from forming:
- Don’t allow damp clothing to sit inside the machine. Remove them immediately after the wash cycle has been completed. Avoid washing before going to bed at night or before leaving for work in the morning which would keep clothing in the machine for an extended period of time.
- Improve air circulation in the machine and allow it to dry out by leaving the door and detergent dispenser open when not in use. Keep children and pets safe by locking the laundry room door.
- Dry off the inside surfaces, door, and seal after each wash cycle.
- Use liquid detergent instead of powder to reduce the build-up of residue. Also, use only the recommended amount of detergent to be sure it completely cycles through in the wash. More detergent will not get clothes cleaner.
- If your laundry room or basement laundry area is damp, running a dehumidifier will help remove moisture from the air and reduce mold from growing.
Step 2: Things to Avoid
The technology is very different from your traditional-style washing machine, so there are a few things that you must do differently or avoid altogether or risk damaging your equipment:
- Don’t use regular detergents as they produce too many suds. Over time, a thick film can build up on hoses and the drum which may cause mechanical or electronic damage to the machine. To avoid receiving an Error Code F21 on a Maytag Washer, always use specially made, high-efficiency (HE) detergents that produce low suds. Read labels carefully as using the wrong detergent can sometimes void the warranty.
- Discontinue using fabric softener in the washer. Today’s detergents include a softener so the extra liquid is not necessary. Consider using dryer sheets instead that reduce static without leaving a residue. If you must use liquid fabric softener, one teaspoon will handle the entire load. The same goes for bleach—use one tablespoon of concentrated or two tablespoons of regular bleach for a full load.
Step 3: Protecting/Cleaning the Door Seal Gasket (Boot)
As one of the top reasons homeowners require appliance repair, it’s critical to protect the door seal gasket (boot) with regular cleanings. Residue and debris from laundry can build up on the door seal. Sticky detergents will make the door harder to open and close; the seal will become misshapen and leak or tear. It’s also more prone to be a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Protect your investment by:
- Cleaning the rubber seal at the front of the washing machine regularly. Wipe water and detergent residue off after each wash cycle.
- Combining a solution of half water and half vinegar to strip down and remove all fabric, pieces of hair and other debris. Use a cotton swab to reach into corners and hard-to-clean spots. Wipe out the inside of the drum also to eliminate odours.
- If you notice mold growing on the seal, pull back the rubber lining and wipe it down (including all the creases in and around the lining) with bleach or mildew cleaners. Be sure to wear gloves and leave the door open for five minutes to allow fumes to circulate.
- Regularly inspect the door seal, making sure it fits snuggly against the machine. If you notice cracks, tears or receive an error code, contact a repair service to replace it.
Step 4: Cleaning the Dispenser
It’s counterintuitive to think of the product that’s instrumental in getting your clothes clean is also the thing that can contribute to the mess. To make sure you’re receiving all the benefits detergents can provide, and none of the drawbacks, it’s important to address issues with the cleaning dispenser and filter system.
- To dry out the detergent dispenser drawer and reduce mold and mildew formation, it’s recommended you leave the drawer out when you’re not using the machine.
- The detergent will eventually build up residue in the drawer that may promote mold and mildew. To make sure this doesn’t transfer to clothing, you’ll want to give your dispenser drawer a thorough cleaning. About once a month (or more often if you do a lot of laundry), remove the drawer and carefully separate the compartments. Soak the parts for approximately 15-20 minutes in a sink full of water and 1/3 cup of white vinegar. Meanwhile, wipe down the inside compartment with a paper towel dipped in bleach. This will kill any mold spores lingering there. Now that grime on the soaking compartments has loosened, go back and scrub them clean. Allow to dry and place back inside the washer. The drawer is not dishwasher safe, so using this method will melt or warp the plastic.
Step 5: Running Cleaning Cycle
As you might imagine, everything that builds up in the dispenser and filter can also cause a problem in your machine’s washtub. Most units have a special cycle designed specifically to clean the washtub. Running this once a month will remove all the unwanted detergent buildup and residue to keep your wash drum performing in top condition.
- Empty the wash drum, add liquid chlorine bleach, powder cleaner or tub cleaner to the detergent dispenser. No detergent should be used at this time. Close the drawer and the door.
- Select “Tub Clean” or appropriate cycle setting and “Start.”
- At the end of the cycle, allow the washer to cool down before opening the door. Then, wipe around the washer door opening, seal and glass with a towel to remove moisture.
- Leave the door open to allow for ventilation and to dry the inside of the washer.
- If your machine doesn’t have a “Tub Clean” feature, follow the directions as above but run the machine on the hottest cycle, plus an extra rinse.
Step 6: Increasing the Lifespan of Washer’s Parts
Whether your machine displays an Error Code or you just notice problems with water drainage, excessive vibrations, longer than usual cycle times, wet clothes after the final spin, or strange pauses in the wash cycle, you may have a clogged drain pump filter. You can easily avoid or rectify this problem by cleaning the filter on a regular basis.
To also save on part wear and tear, always take care in selecting the appropriate spin speed for the load you’re washing. Higher speeds will mean drier clothes but may potentially shorten the lifespan of the machine.
- The drain pump filter located behind a small door at the bottom/front of your front-loading washing machine should be cleaned every few weeks. The role of the filter is to trap hair, lint, bits of fabric and other debris. To ensure your machine drains dirty water quickly, you’ll need to remove the filter and clean off these particles. You may want to use gloves and rinse the filter in clear water before putting it back into the machine.
Step 7: What to Do If Problems Strike
If you’ve followed all the instructions and cared for your machine with regular cleaning and yet you still receive Maytag Washer Error Codes, you may be able to troubleshoot the problem yourself before calling in a repair technician. Check out our Easy DIY Diagnostics page to match your situation with the proper course of action. Write down any error codes or symptoms, so even if you’re unable to repair the problem yourself, the service tech will be able to pinpoint the problem more quickly.
Do’s of Owning a High-Efficiency Front-Load Washer
- Do plan for wash cycles to be longer than traditional top-load cycles. Using less water saves money but requires extra time to get the clothes clean. It also cuts down on dryer time as high spin speeds leave less water on clothing.
- Do incorporate a Hot water wash occasionally to eliminate some of the leftover soap and residue.
- Do make sure you’ve removed all clothing after each load. Small items can easily become trapped in the basket and lead to mold and bacteria growth.
- Do consider diluting liquid fabric softener with water (1:6) or eliminating it entirely. Commercial products tend to be sticky and adhere to the door seal, detergent dispenser and interior drum. A pre-mixed, diluted bottle of fabric softener will help regulate use and reduce problems.
- Do alternate between small and large items to be sure the load is balanced.
Don’ts of Owning a High-Efficiency Front-Load Washer
- Don’t use abrasive cleaners or sponges/cloths to wipe the interior or exterior of your washer. Doing so will scratch and damage your appliance.
- Don’t wash single items as the machine will sense an out-of-balance load and stop. Even if it does complete the cycle, the clothing will still be wet as the spin cycle will be ineffective.
- Don’t try to stop the wash cycle once you’ve started it. You won’t be able to add clothes mid-cycle like a top-load machine.
- Don’t leave loose change, keys or other items in pockets during the wash cycle. This will lead to breakdowns and damage. Always check pockets before starting the wash.
- Don’t leave zippers open as it may result in snagging other clothing or damage to the door and interior drum.
- Don’t wash heavy towels or bed sheets alone as this can cause an out-of-balance load. Always include smaller items in the load also.
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Caring for your front-load washer may take a little extra time, but by following these simple steps, your investment will continue running trouble-free for years to come. If you have questions about washer maintenance or require a service visit, contact FIX Appliances CA online or by calling 1-888-242-0777 today. We offer our appliance repair services in Barrie, Simcoe County, Toronto and all of the GTA with same day washer repair also available.