PIN: Cleaning the Front Loading Washing Machine

What I decided last week is that I will pick something off my Pinterest Cleaning and Organization board to try every week. Most of them will be deep-clean projects or trying a method completely new to me. This is supposed to get me organized and excited about getting the house cleaner (hmmmmmm).

I’ve learned that some of the Pins on Pinterest are highly overrated. Some didn’t work for me, or worked only okay (with a better method available), or just didn’t melt my butter. I’ll report here on the blog (as I’m between DIY projects) and on my board what my experiences were.

GE front loading washer and dryer

The How to Clean your Front Loading Washer Machine Pin showed how to clean the gasket and the detergent tray. Cleaning the detergent tray made me feel good as it was pretty goopy. My teen kids now do their own laundry so they goop a bit pouring the detergent in. The gasket wasn’t that dirty because we installed a brand new one when we bought the machines off Craigslist, however, leaving the door open overnight (beware if you have small kids or pets!!) REALLY made a difference in the smell inside.

Be aware that cleaning your machine like this – running empty loads etc.. will take an hour along with the cleaning time. If you do the double, empty machine, load method that will take half a day. The first empty load is vinegar and the second empty load is with bleach; both loads are the hottest water you can use on your machines’ setting. Next time I clean the machine I’ll try this method and see if I see any difference.

Before doing either method read the manual for your washing machine!

Lessons’ Learned: After doing all the loads for the day, do a quick wipe to take out the moisture in the gasket seal and leave the door open to dry overnight. Really cuts down on the humidity smell inside the drum. Cleaning the detergent tray did make a huge visual difference.

Overall, after doing a couple of loads of laundry the next day I couldn’t really tell a difference in how the clothes smelled or felt. This may have been due to the fact my machine wasn’t all that dirty to begin with. If you have kids in sports, you may see a more dramatic difference.

Future Application: After a full day of laundry, I leave the door open to the washer and let it dry out overnight. I no longer have toddlers in the house and the pets are at the second house. It makes a huge difference in the humidity smell in the laundry room.

Definitely, a useful, routine maintenance to clean your machine but for my machine use, a once a month clean would be enough (consider more if you have a household into sports, construction, etc..).

Transition time from one house to another

We slowed down a lot of projects these last few months in order to get hubby moved into his own place at his out of state job location. We will be downsizing from a 4 bed, 3 bath to a 3 bed and 2 bath rural house. Since we’ll be maintaining two houses for at least another year, we have time to really sort and go through things which really gives a sense of freedom and letting go.

Craigslist is both a blessing and an irritation. A blessing because I can sell larger items for a higher price then a garage sale would bring, but an irritation dealing with no-shows after going to all the time and trouble of posting photos, measurements and putting time aside to meet someone. It’s also become irritating to post something at a good price (since I shop resale I know exactly what an item can bring) and have someone try to get it for next to nothing!

Because I’ve done a lot of sorting and such beforehand, the move is going smoothly though I have some big pieces that will eventually take a rental truck. The house is upside down, and looks totally disorganized but in reality, I have thrown out, donated or sold a lot of items in the downsize. The garage is full of stuff for a garage sale.

On the project front, the master bathroom has a new toilet and the ceiling got painted (diluted the wall paint Sherwin Williams SW Escape Gray #6185 with white for a complimentary pastel version). All the ceiling hall and closet lights got a spraypaint change from1990’s brass to oil rubbed bronze. We’ll be putting up the crown moulding and new sconces in the next week or so. I do plan on doing a board and batten treatment in the master bedroom on the bed wall so will post directions when we get to it!

Right now work is just proceeding and it is mostly boring drudgery!

Tip: Tubs as storage

It’s a bit of a joke around here how many tubs I store things in. However, I’m not planning on stopping!

I love tub storage as it stops access by rodents and bugs to your items; it also prevents water damage if for some reason your floor gets wet. Since we hope to move in 3-5 years, I am planning ahead with this purge and by using tub storage I’ll be able to move extra items into a storage locker when the house eventually goes on the market.

Types of Storage

orgainizing tubs clear vs. solid

Opaque tubs – I prefer this type in areas where the tubs will be seen and for items that I don’t necessarily need to see to make a decision (i.e. clothes would warrant a clear container). I have Rubbermaid storage for our camping gear, home decorating items not in use, and for garage tools not used often.

solid color tubs

Clear tubs – I prefer for craft items, clothes, fabric and things I want to see the color or shape of.

orgainizing tubs clear

Colored tubs – I like to group tubs of the same color with related items. All camping items are in blue tubs; all the craft, floral, and fabric in  clear tubs; tools are in gray tubs; Christmas in red and green; Halloween in Orange and Black; Thanksgiving in rust orange, etc… Well… you get the point!

The reason I group by color is that for certain activities it makes more sense to pull out all the tubs, sort and take what I need. This was especially true when I was in charge of our Girl Scout camping trips.

Storage Size

The size of your storage should fit what you plan on putting into it… duh you say! Well, sometimes it’s not that obvious. If your tub is very deep and you put in a lot of items, invariably what you want will always be at the bottom.

It’s why I really like clear, plastic shoe boxes to store items I want to sort through such as beads, buttons, pinecones, shells etc…, shallow storage for hand tools, and deeper storage for items like folded fabric, skeins of yarn, and upholstery foam. Right now plastic shoe boxes sell for $1 a box at Target or Wal-mart so they are a great, and affordable, start to organizing!

orgainizing tubs shoeboxes

I choose storage that stacks upon each other, and is the right size to fit upon the shelving, both in depth and height.

Be aware that clear storage tubs are weaker then opaque rubber tubs. I’m not sure why but I’m assuming it’s the type of plastic used. When storing heavier items go with colored tubs for strength.

Also, I never put extremely heavy items in rubber tubs. The total weight should be something I can easily lift.

Labeling  Storage

When using tubs to store, you must have a labeling system of some sort. The method I like to use may be too extreme for you 🙂 but here it is: I first make a list of items on my computer and print off, take to the copy shop to be put on a nice bright paper, and then laminate. Back home, I tape it onto the storage tub.

The reason I laminate is that I can remove the label and reuse if I change tubs. I’ve also found writing on a tub with a marker just ends up looking messy. Invariably, the tub changes it’s original purpose and then you end up scratching out and making another mark.

Sticky labels are another option however, when I store in the garage or attic they can get grimy. Another problem is trying to peel off these type of labels; probably you will need to make another label and just stick it over the old.

Storage Costs

Storage tubs can start getting pricey, especially if you need a lot. I suggest starting small and picking a group of similar items you want to store. Some of the tub collections I have are over 20 years old – which brings up another plus – long term use which isn’t possible with cardboard boxes.

Storage often goes on sale, especially in Jan/Feb when people are gearing up to spring clean due to New Year Resolutions. Keep an eye on sales sheets for storage sales. Storage can be found at discount, closeout stores like Big Lots.

Re-cycle containers you have on hand. For instance, 5 gallon pails picked up at a local Home Improvements store, I recycle to hold fertilizer by buying a plastic lid to fit on the top. Warning! If you do this, be sure to mark the new container clearly; I also cut instructions from the bag inside and on top so it  is easily seen. Anything poisonous needs to be secured from kids and pets.

Finding a Storage Home

Once you have items stored you have to ask where you’ll put your tubs. The more you use the item the more you need it to be easy access; seldom used items can be stored in harder to reach areas. I also like to store them on shelf units as it makes for an easier method to see all the tubs and labels at one glance.

I  know one thing – the whole organization process is exhausting! And I have yet more to do!

Be sure to check out all the posts about How to Organize