- Derrick Dennis repairs and deep cleans the insides of washing machines, dryers, and appliances.
- He fully disassembles the machines from top to bottom.
- He cleans mildew, mold, and rust buildup in the machines.
Derrick Dennis: Hi, I’m Derrick Dennis. I specialize in repairing and cleaning washing machines, dryers, any major appliances. The two main types of washing machines that I work on are top-loaders and front-loaders.
I’m going to show you how I clean them. So, this top-load washer is, I would say, between 15 and 17 years old. This machine here hasn’t been cleaned, I would say, ever since it was purchased.
The biggest problem with this, the abundance of buildup from excessive use of detergent, fabric softener, all the buildup you see, that’s what causes this big ring around the top. The water doesn’t come up that high. That’s why you see the different levels. And then the buildup of mold. The perfect, ideal circumstance for mold and mildew buildup is moisture, darkness, and heat. So common buildup in these machines due to overuse of high-efficiency detergent and fabric softener, which you don’t need. This big buildup, you’re going to get rust, you’re going to get mold, mildew. 2 tablespoons of high-efficiency detergent and no fabric softener will make your machine last ages longer than if you’re dumping a cup or two of fabric softener. And it doesn’t get your clothes any cleaner.
I highly recommend cutting out fabric softener in your laundry regimen. The reason that I’m so against fabric softener is when you use fabric softener, the reason that it works is the reason that it’s bad. So it builds up like an oily residue, because those enzymes have been trapped inside your shirt, and so that’s what causes it to smell. So it’s not because of you, but eventually, the overuse of high-efficiency detergent and fabric softener will cause your clothes to smell, even if they’re clean. So, anytime we maintenance a machine, we want to make sure that we’re unplugging it from any power source, and it’s good to cut the water off. So, generally we start from top to the bottom. The main thing is removing the tub and cleaning the inner and outer baskets. That’s where all of your smell comes from. With these direct-drive machines, a lot of times we have, the legs are rusty, and we’ll either scrape them down, repaint them, make sure we knock the cobwebs out, all that kind of stuff. Sometimes we’ll find a little baby sock. You never know.
We like to use toothbrushes, different-style brushes. You have pointy brushes, flat brushes. They all have different jobs, but brushes are very key. They’re vital to everything we do. So the brushes really help to get in there and kind of get in the corners and the crevices to clean all this mildew and mold out. Sometimes the pressure washer doesn’t get inside the balance ring, and we have some bristles in there and kind of really put some elbow grease in it. My favorite cleaner is Pine-Sol, bleach, Lysol. Vinegar is more of what I recommend for people to use through a washing cycle. White distilled vinegar has acetic compounds that help kill some bacterias.
When we pressure wash, first we start the outside. We can get a lot better into the balance ring. A pressure washer, the water finds its ways into all the crevices, and it does a much better job at pushing out all this mold and mildew and detergent buildup and fabric-softener buildup all the way out of the holes. Then we can just rinse it out of the inside, and we have pretty much a brand-new basket. So, the steam cleaning usually comes after the pressure washing just because we want to get kind of a final clean. The best thing about the steamer is the water comes out at a superhigh temperature, and that helps to effectively sanitize any of these crevices or cracks or anything that we can’t just clean with a pressure washer or bleach.
So, the front-loader, the cleaning process, it’s similar, but it’s a lot different in the disassembly and just the orientation of the basket. I can’t remove a basket all the way from a front-loader. I can only clean the front half. The old-school top-loaders are built like tanks. The front-loaders are not, but they clean your clothes better. They generally don’t need as much cleaning as a top-loader because of the orientation and the way the water spins inside, and the water actually keeps the tubs cleaner.
The biggest part of the smell that we see is from pump building up lint and debris in there and people not cleaning it out. And then you stay with a smell, or because people don’t wipe out their door seal every time they use the machine, they keep the door closed, and then that just builds up a mildew smell. As long as you keep the door open and wipe the door seal out and run a washer-cleaner tablet through once a month or so, white distilled vinegar, it’s not going to smell. I can guarantee it. So, with this front loader, it actually has a clean-out spot for the lint. This is what protects your pump, and this is what helps keep the smell down internally. Pull the door down. We drain the water out of this little, this is the drain hose that actually pulls whatever water is left inside the pump. And then we take the filter out, clean it out, and that’s it. It’s that simple.
I recommend doing this every 30 days, at least every six months, and this is going to prevent odor. It’s going to keep your washing machine lasting a whole lot longer. The average life span of pretty much any washer is two or three years before the bearings go out, you know, just because of, and that really comes from the overuse of detergent. So when a detergent breaks down that oil and grease, it’ll cause the bearings to get rusted, rusty, and then your washing machine will sound like a jet plane taking off. That’s bad bearings. It’s really hard to get to if you can’t physically tear these things down and clean them yourself.
So the best thing to do is preventive maintenance. 2 tablespoons of detergent, no fabric softener at all, but if you have to use it, make sure you dilute it by 50%. You know, when I sell a machine to somebody, I want them to have faith that I have sold them the cleanest used washing machine that they can possibly buy.