Thursday, April 12, 2012

Clean & Dirty

We have a front-load washing machine and dryer, stacked on top of each other, tucked away in a little corner of our kitchen.

It would actually be super convenient if that cabinet were a pantry, but in our weensy little bungalow, there's just not space for that.  I actually love the convenience of having the laundry in the kitchen, and now that I've gotten used to it, I don't think I would like having the washer and dryer located far from the central area of the house (like in an unfinished basement--although I guess I'd get used to that, too).  One thing about a house with few walls is that we can always hear the laundry buzz, and it's easy to get a load of laundry going before dinner or pause the TV to switch a load from the washer to the dryer.  No excuses for it to build up and yet...

(It is, however, a recipe for disaster if I try to fold a load of clean clothes while David is making dinner, with both dogs underfoot--so there are definitely some downsides to having a washer and dryer in a wee kitchen.)

Anyway, the only problem is that recently I noticed a couple of David's dress shirts came out of the laundry with strange spots on them--spots that were not there BEFORE they were washed.

Needless to say, this did not make me very happy.

I couldn't figure out exactly what the spot was (it looked like brownish dirt but appeared to stain--because of course I dried the shirts before I noticed the spots) and it was usually located on the collar or cuffs--the structured parts of the shirt.

After a bit of investigating, I decided that the washing machine itself might be dirty and therefore making my clothes dirty instead of cleaning them.  (Shocking!)  Since David was not receptive to my initial insistence that we HAD to buy a new washing machine IMMEDIATELY before all of our clothes were RUINED, I decided that before I went appliance shopping, I'd see if there was some kind of cleaning kit I could use on the washing machine.

For periodic maintenance, I've occasionally run a load of vinegar and hot water through the washing machine if I feel like it has that wet/musty smell--I've also learned to avoid that smell by not closing the washing machine door all the way when it's sitting between washes.  But this seemed to require MORE than my previous attempts.

So I ordered this little kit from Amazon for $8.99.

available at Amazon

(BTW I am not getting paid by Affresh OR Amazon, in case you thought either company was tracking down bereaved parents and asking them about cleaning their washing machines).  So I put a tablet through the hot cycle and then wiped down the rubber ring around the door with one of the wipes included in the kit.

And then I used another wipe.

Dudes, that rubber ring was DISGUSTING.

It looked fine from the outside, but when I pulled on it so I could clean inside the folded part, I discovered that it was coated with brown gunk, sitting inside the folded rubber ring, just being gross.  Eight years of laundry gunk, built up in there.  It was nasty.  I ended up using ALL the wipes from the kit (which came with three tabs and five wipes) and THEN an old wash cloth (wet it with hot water) to keep scrubbing.  Then I ran another tab through the washing machine (no clothes, hot water cycle again).

Then, of course, I turned to Pinterest for more advice.  So I ran a load of bleach water (which I HATE doing--we never use bleach because I loathe the smell and it's so environmentally unfriendly).  Then I ran through another empty load with vinegar instead of detergent.

I haven't tested it on a load of clothes yet, but I'm really hoping that this results in a clean and sparkling washing machine, and nice clean clothes with no random and mysterious stains on them.

Aside from this recent little weird-stain problem, I've been really happy with these machines (which came with the house when we bought it).  I'm hoping they will last at least as long as we plan to be in this house.

Anyone have any brilliant washing machine cleaning plans?  Anyone else used one of these "Affresh" kits?  Can you tell me it works wonders?  Anyone else clean their washing machine with vinegar?  Experience mysterious stains on clothing?  Prefer doing laundry to cooking dinner?  (I totally do).

Anyone else stunned by the mind-numbing banality of this post?  Just keeping it real here, folks.  Welcome to my thrilling life.  What else did I do last night?  Watched 30 Rock and read Mrs. Dalloway.  Oh, and I tried to take a bath but the damn bathtub drain wouldn't stay plugged so it all drained away on me and I totally felt (and looked) like a beached whale, which was not exactly the peaceful unwinding experience that I'd been hoping for before bed.  At least the lavender-scented bubbles still smelled nice.

Honestly, I think part of my obsession with cleaning the inside of appliances made for cleaning is that I'm redirecting my nesting instincts.  In keeping with our New Plan of Not Planning (which is why we're not finding out the Deuce's gender), we are not going to be putting together a nursery before the baby comes home from the hospital.  So instead of decorating a sweet baby room (the mere thought fills me with terror), I'm cleaning major appliances.  And blogging about it.  You're so welcome.


  1. When I bought my new washer & dryer about 2-3 years ago, I did some research & apparently front-loaders, for all their advantages, are more susceptible to problems with mildew & odors. For front loaders, you need to make sure you are using the "HE" branded detergents, & you probably don't even need to use the recommended amount -- it doesn't take much. The buildup of soap is what causes that nasty scum (& odors). And I always use vinegar instead of softener in my rinse cycle.

    I wrote a post about my new purchases then, here:

    I've used an Affresh-type product, but the booklet that came with the washer recommends using the "clean cycle" with 2/3 cup of bleach once a month or so. The bleach is cheaper & I think it works just as well. I also leave the door to the washer open when I'm not using it to let it air out.

    Good luck!

  2. Tell me when you figure out what to do with a dishwasher that was working perfectly fine but now makes glass all white and cloudy. So annoying. I cleaned our washer the other day and it makes me happy every time I see it, which is a lot because the washer is in our pantry. I also like having it near the kitchen.

  3. I bought one of those cleaners for the dishwasher. Bc I bought into the commercial that posed the thought that I wouldn't wash my dishes in a dirty sink, so why a dirty dishwasher. I bought it last summer and have yet to use it bc my dishwasher stays full so I never had time to run an empty cycle. Maybe after the baby is here I will. Riiiiiight. Ha! I'm sure our washer/dryer could use a cleaning. Prob not going to happen tho. I'm lazy. ;)

  4. I use both the washer and dish washer cleaners, the seem to work. We got the dishwasher with the house so it is 7 years old and so far with the cleaner and with pulling out the drain basin. As for the washer I bought it 4 years and after finding mildow in it I clean it once a month and like you said always keep the door open when not in use....hope the cleaning helped.

    I do want to say that my loss is quite recent but I will NEVER do up a nursey before the baby comes home either.

  5. Me! Me! I love those washing machine cleaning things. Washing machine and dish washer ones! I've always used them. I feel so virtuous, look I'm cleaning my washing machine, whilst I'm actually just sitting there, lazing about, letting the clean-y stuff do all the hard work. Apart from the gunk scrubbing off from the rubber seal, that can get nasty!
    Vinegar too, lovely gets rid of any of those musty smells. Right, will go back to my cleaning the inside of appliances made for cleaning corner now!

  6. Only you could write about this and leave me entertained...and mildly inspired to clean out our appliances.
    We live upstairs, above our garage, it's a carriage house or some nonesense, I don't know. The roof is self supporting, so hypothetically we could knock down all our walls and begin again if we wanted to, there's no load baring walls. (pipe and electrical wire would make it hard) Because of this there is some...movement within the house, and my FiL and husband tried to convince me the washer and dryer had to go downstairs, because the spin cycle would be too much. If you knew how stubborn both these men are you'd be properly impressed with the fact my washer and dryer are at the end of the hall, UPSTAIRS. It was the fit of all fits, and I am not a fit thrower.
    We've had towel ickiness issues, so I'm considering buying this kit as well. Keep us updated on if you're impressed?

  7. I've never had a problem with our front loaders, but I have wiped the ring a few times, mostly bc I find cat hair or (for shame), my hair in there. So I just fiddle w/ the rubber bits until it's all clean. I use those lysol wipes for that stuff for some reason... :)

    I've never had an issue w/ my dishwasher, but we do use Jetdry, so I suspect that's why we don't have water spots/etc. I also use the pre-formed Seventh Generation "pellets" for the dishwasher, so the detergent to wash ratio is correct.

    That's all I've got. :)

  8. definitely sounds like nesting to me. :) i actually used pinterest to clean my top loading washing machine a few days ago. it's amazing how dirty those things get. i guess i take it for granted considering they are always full of water and detergent. ;)

  9. You might make sure the washer isn't leaking the oil at the base of it. This just happened to ours and of course all the clothes that got stained were my nice work clothes. I still can't get the stains out. And we had to buy a new washer. We did get a HE washer which seems to be working really well. But you might check the bottom of the inside, as well as underneath the washer, to make sure no oil is leaking.


  10. Wow, I feel dirty. I don't wash my washer, but have been known to wipe down the inside with a paper towel and some random cleaner.

    Also, I have a dishwasher and have used it about 5 times because I hate the film it leaves. I'm over it. That thing just sits and looks pretty. Argh. That, and the stupid Crate & Barrel plates/bowls we have are enormous and not dishwasher (or microwave-- seriously, what were we thinking?) safe. What to put in there, silverware and cups only? Agh.

    I love clean talk. Thanks for that.

    And don't get a nursery together. Totally overrated. Spoken from an angry BLM who refused to engage in such activities either.

  11. Had to laugh, I cleaned my washing machine just a few weeks back. Naaaaaasty indeed. Oh and my dishwasher as well.
    You have a real knack for making me laugh. Not many loss bloggers can do that, so thank you.