From Spotlight: A New Spin on Old Laundry Problems

How to Care for Your Washer and Dryer

Clean your dryer vent annually to prevent fires — and 13 other tips for keeping your washer and dryer in peak condition.

A modern laundry room with front loading washer and dryer and beautiful wood cabinets.
Image: Getty/chandlerphoto

Be good to your washer and dryer, and those costly machines will be good to you.

Here’s how to keep your washer and dryer humming along safely and efficiently.

Before/After Every Load

1. Clean out dryer lint filter to maximize efficiency.

2. Dry the washer’s door and gaskets after using, and open the door on top-loaders to foster air circulation and prevent mold.

3. Always ensure the washing machine is level and on firm footing.

4. Always use the proper type and amount of detergent for the machine and load. You can actually damage some models by using premeasured pods. Check your manufacturer’s recommendations.

5. Remove damp clothes from washers immediately to prevent mold or mildew buildup.

Related: Find Out Other Unexpected Places Mold Likes to Hide

Every Month

1. Inspect the dryer exhaust duct for crimps, obstructions, and unnecessary bends.

2. Inspect washing machine hoses for tight fittings, bulges, cracks, and leaks. Burst washing machine hoses could spill hundreds of gallons of water an hour, flooding your home. Tighten loose fittings. Replace hoses every five years; replace immediately if damaged.

3. Clean rubber gaskets and drums on washers and dryers with a solution of equal parts water and vinegar.

4. Check and clean drain pump filter on front-loading washers. Consult your owner’s manual for location.

Every Three Months

Wash dryer lint filter with detergent to remove invisible chemical residues that can restrict airflow.

Every Year

Remove and clean out the entire exhaust duct line from dryer to exterior. Clogged ducts cause thousands of house fires every year.

More Tips

1. Replace vinyl dryer exhaust ducts with metal ductwork to reduce fire hazards.

2. Replace rubber washing machine hoses with braided-metal ones to reduce the risk of bursting.

3. Fill nicks and scratches on the outside of machines with touch-up paint to reduce rusting.


Doug Trattner
Douglas Trattner

Douglas Trattner has covered home improvement for, DIYNetworks, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He lives in a 1925 Colonial.