If you’re planning on taking a vacation during the winter, it’s essential to winterize your home, including your washing machine
Because your washing machine is connected to a water line, there’s a chance that the hoses and surrounding pipes can freeze. This is especially common in washing machines that aren’t in climate-controlled areas of your home, such as a basement or garage.
Fortunately, it’s easy to winterize a washing machine when you have the right tools and supplies. To walk you through the process, we’ve put together this tutorial with simple, easy-to-follow steps.
1. Clean the agitator
Given its contouring and fabric softener well, the washing machine’s agitator ends up with a lot of buildup. You need to clean it thoroughly before sanitizing your washing machine.
If the fabric softener well is removable, take it off the agitator and rinse it thoroughly in a sink. Some wells can be taken apart completely, which makes them easier to clean. You may need to use cotton swabs to dislodge buildup from smaller crevices. Depending on how much residue is stuck inside, you may need to let the well soak in lukewarm water for a few minutes.
Next, wipe down the agitator. Most residue can be removed with a damp cloth, and anything that's left will come off when you sanitize the machine.
After the agitator is wiped down, be sure to replace the clean fabric softener well.
2. Sanitize your washing machine
Before beginning the winterizing process, sanitize your washing machine. Over time, dirt, grime, and detergent residue accumulate within the machine.
To get rid of the gunk, sanitize your washing machine with a kitchen staple: white vinegar. It's an all-natural, effective cleaning agent that also neutralizes odors.
Pour one gallon of white vinegar into your washing machine and run a full cycle. This removes most residue and odors. Once the cycle completes, run a regular rinse cycle to wash away the rest of the vinegar. If there’s a significant accumulation of residue, you may need to run the vinegar cycle twice, so be sure to have two gallons of vinegar on hand.
3. Turn off the water supply to your washing machine
Pipes can freeze in the winter, and when they have water inside them, the pipes are at risk of bursting.
To prevent this from happening in your laundry room, turn off the water supply to the washing machine. Keep in mind that this may affect the water supply to surrounding appliances and fixtures, such as the dishwasher or faucets.
4. Drain all liquid from your washing machine
Once you’ve shut off the water supply to your washing machine, you need to drain residual water from the pipes and the machine.
Begin by draining the hoses. Start with the hose connected to the water supply and detach it, letting water flow into a bucket.
Next, remove the washer drain hose. This is connected to the washer's drain port and the opening to your home's drain. Lay this hose on the floor while it's still connected to the drain port. Let the excess water drain into a shallow pan, such as a cookie sheet with well-defined edges.
With the flow of water, the hose may move around and cause the water to spill on the floor. To make sure it stays put, use electrical tape or duct tape to secure it to the floor.
To clear the pumps, tilt your washing machine to drain any residual water. For safety reasons, it’s a good idea to get assistance during this step, especially with heavier washing machines or those on platforms.
Finally, wipe down the washing machine with an absorbent, scratch-free cloth until it's completely dry.
5. Run a load of antifreeze in your washing machine
Now that your washing machine is fully drained, add a quart of RV antifreeze where you normally pour laundry detergent. Next, run the washing machine for approximately half a minute to mix it with residual water in the pump. Once that's complete, simply unplug your washing machine.
6. Flush out your washing machine when restarting
When it’s time to restart your washing machine after a few months, reconnect your washing machine’s hoses, power, and water supply. Before you do your first load of laundry, let the washing machine sit and prime for around 48 hours.
After priming, flush out the antifreeze and residual liquid by running a regular cycle just with water. Next, run a cycle to sanitize the washing machine with the same vinegar wash used in step one.
After that, you're ready to do your first load of laundry in a clean washing machine.
Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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