I hate to admit it, but I’ve never cleaned my washing machine’s dispenser drawer. Not once in the four or five (or six?) years that I’ve owned my machine. Not out of laziness, but because I simply didn’t know that you were supposed to clean it. As I was about to start washing the first load of baby clothes earlier this week, I hesitated before adding my washing powder: surely, surely, I should clean my washing machine before washing these delicate baby clothes? That little bit of gunk in that dispenser drawer? It can’t be good for baby’s clothes…
When I asked hubby whether he knew if you were supposed to clean out the dispenser drawer, he looked at me, baffled, and said, ‘of course!’ Embarrassment. And then relief. This means that I may not have known that you were supposed to wash your dispenser drawer, but because hubby knows that, my machine hasn’t been too abused and does, in fact, get the occasional clean. Phew.
However, now that I’m about to become a mother, I think it’s about time I learnt how to clean the washing machine properly so promptly hauled out my very dusty and barely-used copy of The Cleaning Bible: Kim and Aggie’s Complete Guide to Modern Household Management. See? I knew it would come in handy someday! After perusing this incredibly helpful book and doing a spot of googling, I began the great Washing Machine Detox. For those who are just as clueless as I am, here’s what I discovered:
- Your washing machine’s dispenser drawer is very easily removed. If you think the grime (caused by a build-up of washing powder and fabric softener) in the drawer is bad, wait till you see what lies beneath…
- I used an old cloth and Earthsap Cleaner and Degreaser (one of my must-have household cleaners – this baby works on any and every thing. Trust me. I’ve been known to scrub skirting boards with it, and it works a treat on a greasy braai grid. Find out more, here) to remove the gunk and grime. An old toothbrush was useful when it came to those hard-to-reach crevices.
- I found out that your dispenser drawer can be washed in the dishwasher to give it a proper clean. I’ve now decided that I’ll be doing this at least once a week.
- Once I’d given the dispenser drawer a good scrub, I replaced it and added about two tablespoons of white vinegar to the detergent slot. (If, like me, you’re a tad clueless and start wondering whether you’re doing this right, the slots work as follows: washing powder goes into the left slot, fabric conditioner goes into the middle slot, and pre-wash goes into the right-hand slot on most machines. It’s probably best to check your machine’s manual if you’re unsure). I let the machine run on a quick, 30 minute cycle at a high temperature.
- Once I’d done that, I did a quick rinse (I was a bit worried that baby’s clothes would end up reeking of vinegar). This also ensured that any grimy particles were rinsed out of the machine.
- I gave my washing machine a quick rub down (using a cloth and the Earthsap Cleaner mentioned above) while waiting for the rinse cycle to finish.
And there you have it! The whole process took me about 20 minutes (that’s excluding the wash and rinse cycles, of course), and I was left with a sparkling washing machine – and equally clean laundry!