Everyone uses their washing machine regularly. It is there to keep your clothes clean and fresh. What you probably don’t realize is that your washing machine needs to be cleaned as well to make sure that it’s working properly. 

Here are some maintenance tips to keep your washing machine working properly so that you’re not stuck with a washing machine that won’t clean your clothes.

1. Your washer needs washing

This hard-working machine needs cleaning of its own. Luckily there is little you need to do by hand, and with the right supplies, you can rest easy. Non-toxic washing machine cleaner is the easiest way to maintain an odor and gunk-free washer. Simply toss one in (two if your washer is extra-stinky) and run a normal hot cycle. The tablet does all the work and you can prevent future damage with easy maintenance.

2. You actually don’t need to keep that manual

It’s easy to feel compelled to save the thick, daunting manual that comes with your new washer, but it will more than likely end up in the back of a junk drawer. According to organization and tidying guru Marie Kondo, it’s actually unnecessary to keep the physical copy to any manual—including your intimidating washing machine! 

Rather than fiddle with buttons and knobs when something seems to be acting up, you can very well find all the information you’re looking for free manuals online. If you have questions or concerns and need professional help, you don’t need the manual to find contact information for customer service. There are tons of free sources to find washer and dryer manufacturers in the U.S.A. and other major countries.

3. Empty your pockets  

Loose change, unopened gum, business cards—all these things can clog your washing machine and cause premature tearing. Make this an easy habit by having decorative sorting bins to place random objects found in pockets before the clothes are put in.

4. Cleaned clothes can make it dirty

As soon as your washer’s cycle is finished, remove the wet clothes from the basin. Not only will this keep your items less wrinkled and smelling fresh, but it will also prevent your machine from developing a musky smell over time. 

If you have a bad habit of forgetting, set a reminder on your phone. If you do forget, don’t wash the batch of laundry again. Simply pour a half cup of white vinegar in the load & run it on rinse. If the musky smell persists, use more vinegar and a third of the usual laundry detergent (avoid using fabric softener when adding vinegar, as the vinegar counteracts the smell of the softener).

5. Leave the door open

If your washing is done for the day, give it a breather by opening up the washer door. This is the simplest and easiest way to air out the machine and keep it fresh in between loads of laundry.

6. Chill isn’t always ‘cool’

Most of the time we are told to use cold or cool water on our clothes, as this generally keeps fabric bright and prevents color bleeding. However, continually running cold cycles is actually unhelpful for our washing machine. Hot water cycles need to be run at least somewhat frequently in order to keep bacteria from growing and from odor to build up.

Following these steps can help you maintain your washing machine so that you don’t have to fit in a trip to the local laundromat to get your regular loads done.