How to Clean and Maintain Your Laundry Appliances

By Lyle Weischwill | Mar. 23, 2023 5:48 am PST

Lint build-up inside the cabinet of your dryer is a leading cause of appliance fires. A leaking washer fill hose can cause catastrophic water damage. Avoid these disasters and other laundry appliance mishaps by regularly cleaning and maintaining your washing machine and clothes dryer.

How to Clean and Maintain Your Clothes Dryer

When cleaning and maintaining your dryer, focus on the exhaust vent system first. Lint and debris clogs in the exhaust vent system can cause the dryer to take longer to dry clothes. Clothes that is tumbling inside the dryer also can overheat when the vent system is clogged.

How to Clean the Dryer Vent System

  1. Check the dryer damper vent on the outside of your home. Clear any obstructions that are blocking the damper from opening properly. Clean the damper vent and make sure that it swings freely on its hinge so that exhaust air flows freely out of your home.
  2. Disconnect the flexible exhaust duct from its wall connection. Vacuum lint and dust from the exhaust duct going to the outside of your home. You can also use a lint brush or leaf blower to help clear lint and debris from the exhaust duct system.
  3. Disconnect the flexible exhaust duct from the dryer and vacuum out the inside of the flexible exhaust duct.
  4. Vacuum lint and debris from the exhaust outlet on the dryer. Reassemble the flexible exhaust duct to restore the air path going to the outside of your home.
  5. Remove the lint screen and wash it with water and soft bristle brush to remove fabric softener and dryer sheet residue that builds up on the lint screen. Let the lint screen dry completely and reinstall it in the dryer.

How to Clean the Dryer Drum

Inspect the inside of your dryer drum and wipe it with a moist cloth if you don’t see any stains. If you do see stains or deposits, follow the advice below for cleaning the drum.

  • Transferred dye. The dye from new jeans can rub off on the dryer drum (not to mention your hands), leaving a blue or gray residue. To remove it, rub a paste made from powdered laundry detergent and very warm water on the stains. When the stains are gone, use a clean, damp cloth to wipe off any paste that remains.

Tip: To keep the dye from transferring next time, dry the jeans inside out.

  • Gum. First, soften the gum; you can either put a few rags in the dryer and run the dryer for a few minutes, or use a blow dryer. If there are just a few spots of gum, use a hard spatula or a plastic knife to gently scrape them off. If there are many small spots, rub them with a thick paste made from powdered laundry detergent and water.
  • Lipstick. Run the dryer empty on high heat for a few minutes to soften the lipstick. While the dryer is still warm, scrape up as much lipstick as possible with a rubber spatula or the edge of a credit card. Use a few drops of olive oil on a microfiber cloth to wipe away any remaining residue, then clean the area with powdered laundry detergent and a damp sponge. Rinse the drum with a clean, damp cloth and wipe the drum dry.
  • Ink. If the ink is from a ball point pen and is fresh, place dry rags in the dryer and run for an hour on the highest heat setting to absorb the ink. For any ink that isn’t fresh, rub liquid dish soap with a soft damp cloth over the stain, then rinse with a damp cloth and dry. Use an eraser sponge for stubborn ink stains.

After using any cleaning method, it’s a good idea to place wet rags in the dryer and run at the highest heat setting until dry to remove any residue.

How to Clean the Moisture Sensor Bars

Many clothes dryers have sensor bars that tell the dryer to shut off when the load is dry. If you use dryer sheets, residue from the sheet’s fabric softener can make sensors think the load is dry when it’s still damp. Clean the sensor bars every 6 months or so, or if the dryer is consistently under-drying the laundry. Dip the tip of a rag in rubbing alcohol and wipe the bars to clean off residue.

Image of a Sears Tech performing dryer maintenance

How to Clean Lint From Inside the Dryer Cabinet

The best way to clean lint from inside the cabinet is to have a Sears Technician do it. Schedule a Dryer Clean & Maintain Service and a Sears Tech will visit your home and clean the inside of the dryer for you. The tech will also perform these essential dryer cleaning and maintenance tasks during the visit:

  • Check the exhaust system.
  • Inspect the heating system.
  • Check the drum, drive system and drum seals.
  • Examine and test the moisture sensor.
  • Inspect the power cord and electrical connections.
  • Measure dryer operating temperature.
  • Check the controls.

Bundle the dryer cleaning and maintenance service with washer cleaning and maintenance and the tech will take care of both laundry appliances in one convenient visit. You’ll also save money when you bundle appliance cleaning and maintenance service by Sears.

How to Clean and Maintain Your Washing Machine

Inspect the washer hoses as described by Sears Technician Tom Charland in this video.

Replace your washer hoses if you see cracks or damage. As recommended by Tom in the video, use metal or fiberglass-reinforced washer hoses to avoid water leaks and flooding.

Use Washer Magic or Affresh Washer Cleaner to clean the tub of your washer and keep it smelling fresh.

To keep your washer in top condition and avoid unexpected breakdowns, schedule a Sears Technician to perform a Cleaning & Maintenance Service on your washer. The tech will:

  • Inspect water fill hoses. If you haven’t already replaced worn or damaged fill hoses yourself, the tech will recommend hose replacement if needed.
  • Check the washer tub and internal hoses for wear and leaks. Some internal washer leaks begin as small drips you may not even notice. Small leaks can eventually turn into large ones that damage walls and flooring. During washer maintenance, the technician will check internal fill hoses, dispenser hoses and drain hoses for leaks and wear that need addressing.
  • Test the washer drain system. The washer won’t clean and spin clothes if the drain system doesn’t fully remove water during the drain portion of the cycle. The technician will check drain pump operation and the complete drain path through your home’s drain system. The tech can clear obstructions and let you know if your house drain needs clearing.
  • Check water fill level and water temperature. To keep your washer working efficiently and avoid garment damage, the technician check water fill levels and the water temperature. The washing machine won’t clean the clothes well if water level is too low. Too much water can cause leaks and damage suspension components. Water also needs to be at the right temperature to clean clothes properly. When water temperature isn’t hot enough, detergent won’t dissolve and clothes won’t get clean. You might even see detergent residue can on clothes when water temperature is too low. Water that’s too hot can shrink delicate garments and damage certain fabrics. Hot water also can cause bright colors to fade or run.
  • Check the suspension system and spin cycle operation. Excessive vibration or banging during the spin will often result in clothes being too wet when the cycle ends. While banging during the spin cycle can be caused by an unbalanced load, it can also be caused by tub suspension problems. The technician will test the spin cycle and make sure that suspension components such as shock absorbers and springs are intact and working properly. The tech also will check washer leveling and stability and adjust leveling legs as needed to minimize vibration during the spin cycle.
  • Run a cleaning cycle. Detergent residue and dirt can build up inside the washer. Mold and mildew can develop and make clothes smell musty when you don’t clean the washer regularly. The technician will typically run a cleaning cycle using a washer cleaner to remove deposits and detergent residue from the washer.

Yearly professional washer maintenance will help your washer last longer. As noted above, bundling washer maintenance with dryer maintenance will keep both of your laundry appliances in top shape and save you money. In fact, you can have a Sears Tech maintain your kitchen appliances during the same visit by bundling all of your home appliance maintenance and save even more.

Trust Sears to help you keep your appliances in top shape and save money.

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