Your laundry room (or laundry area) is seldom a place that you go to hang out and relax. Usually, it’s the place you go to iron a work shirt, run a load of whites so you have clean underwear in the morning, or sanitize all of the towels, sheets, and blankets affected by your potty-trainee’s accidents. With kids, especially, you might feel like you spend more time doing laundry than you should, but no matter what, you keep on coming back for more.
As much as you might want to get in and out and on with your life, you should spend some time giving the things in your laundry room a little preventative maintenance. With all of the water, hot air, and dust that passes through that room, things can get pretty gnarly if left unattended.
So where do you start and what needs to be done? You should be sitting pretty if you go through this laundry list of maintenance about every six months.
General Laundry Room Maintenance
- Look for leaks. Start by checking the floor and baseboards for signs of water damage. Watch for stains, peeling paint, caulk that’s warped, or bloated boards. You might not see water pooling under your appliances, but if you notice these signs, you could have a slow, persistent leak that needs immediate attention. You should be especially diligent about checking for leaks if your laundry room is on the second floor of your house as that could lead to water damage on other levels.
- Clean your countertops. Wipe down your countertops with a mild, multi-surface cleaner to keep them free of residue or build-up. Few things are more frustrating than picking up a freshly washed and folded shirt and finding soap residue sticking to it from the countertop.
- Investigate the iron. I don’t know if there’s a person out there who hasn’t accidentally either melted a shirt or smudged something unsightly across their iron leaving behind a black, sticky mark. Most of these messes can be cleaned off with common household substances, and the few exceptions just need a commercial iron cleaner available at most fabric stores. If you don’t want to go to the store to get a commercial cleaner, you can try these other methods first.
- Dryer sheet: This might seem like a funny way to clean your iron, but it does work. Empty all of the water in the reservoir, and turn your iron on low. Rub the dryer sheet gently across the iron’s plate to remove any light dirt or gunk. Turn the iron off, and then wipe it down with a damp towel.
- Baking soda paste: Form a paste by mixing together equal parts of baking soda and water, then use a soft-bristled toothbrush to rub it across the iron’s plate to pick up any residue. Wipe off the plate with a clean, damp cloth, then heat up the iron to its high setting and run it over a clean towel with lots of steam.
- Acetone nail polish remover: If all else fails, but you’re not ready to try the commercial cleaner yet, try the nail polish remover route. Simply heat up your iron, turn it off, and dab the iron with an acetone-soaked cotton ball.
Washing Machine Maintenance
- Check the hoses. At least twice a year, pull your washing machine away from the wall and inspect your hoses for any nicks, leaks, or signs of wear. Braided stainless steel hoses are better than the cheaper rubber ones because they last longer and are more resistant to puncture.
- Run a cleaning cycle. Most grocery stores carry washing machine cleaning solution to help flush your washing machine of build-up, but you can also just run a hot cycle with a cup of vinegar.
- Wipe down the outside. Keep your washing machine clean on the outside by wiping it down monthly with a mild multi-surface cleaner.
- Dust underneath. If your washing machine is located next to your dryer, it’s highly likely that it has accumulated some dust bunnies. Run a long-handled duster underneath every few months to keep your floor clear.
- Look at your lint trap. You should be cleaning out the lint trap every time you use the dryer, but you should do a more extensive clean every few months. Vacuum out the inside of the lint trap, and wash the trap itself with soap and water to remove any build-up from your fabric softener.
- Wipe down the inside drum. Use a clean, damp cloth to wipe down the inside drum of your dryer. If you notice any residue or splotches, use a little bit of mild detergent on another clean cloth and wipe it down again with just water.
- Keep the ducts and vent clear. Clogged ducts and vents are among the leading causes of dryer fires, so you need to be extra mindful of them. If you don’t feel confident disconnecting the ductwork, ask a local plumber to help you out.
- Wipe down the outside. As with your washing machine, clean the outside of your dryer with a mild, multi-surface cleaner.
- Dust underneath and behind. Your dryer is particularly prone to dust bunnies underneath and behind it, so make sure that you’re checking every few months.
I’m not saying that folding clothes will ever top anyone’s “favorite things to do” list, but it will certainly be more pleasant in a clean laundry room. And don’t forget that you’ll get more use out of your appliances and prevent mishaps when you stay on top of the maintenance.