Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Because sometimes, I forget the laundry in the washer

From the laundry basket of the Homegrown Mama

I do a lot of laundry in this house.  I have 2 kids in diapers, we play outside and we don't use paper towels.  You do the math.  I use either soap nuts or homemade detergent for my laundry, so there aren't chemicals swirling around in the basin erasing  masking any random odors.  And after 2 years of diaper laundry, forgotten loads in the washer and a few falls in the muck while hiking, I felt like our washer had a little case of stink.

After some lengthy research online, I discovered that you actually need to clean the washer from time to time.  I imagine that as my kids get older and our adventures lead us to muddier pastures, I may need to use this clean up again.  Until then, maintaining a washer can help lengthen the life of the machine and keep you from ruined clothes as a result of soap scum building up in your washer drum (trust me, when I say this, there was a horrible disaster involving a sweater that I had only gotten to wear once and I'm still sad over it).

Instead of using bleach, I scrub down the washer drum with a paste made from half a cup of baking soda, 5 drops of tea tree oil and 1 teaspoon of Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap.  I add enough water to the paste so that it has a slushy consistency and then hang over the side of the washer into the drum, scrubbing away.  Then, I run a quick rinse cycle with a cup of Borax (and the rag from scrubbing) with warm water.  After that, the only lingering scent in your washer is well... nothing.  And as far as I'm concerned the smell of nothing when I toss my dirty laundry into the washer beats the smell of stink or bleach any day!


Tanya @ Lovely Greens said...

I've always wondered about cloth are they just tossed into the washing machine 'filling' and all? Or do you have to do a manual poo wash-out first?

Laura said...

If it's breastmilk, you don't have to rinse. And even now that my daughter is on solids, I just toss whatever the contents are in the toilet and wash as usual. Toddlers and sick kiddos do merit a rinse in my opinion, though. I line dry outside as much as I can so the sun will bleach any stains, but for the most part, the diapers look good as new after the wash!

De in D.C. said...

We have semi-hard water, so our washer tends to get a mineral deposit film on the inside of the drum. I've been known to run a "clean washer" cycle with vinegar in both the bleach and fabric softener cups to loosen the deposits, then I rub down the inside with a vinegar-soaked rag as soon as it's complete. The drum stays sparkling for a few months after this.

We've taken our cloth diapers on vacation several times, and I'll run a "clean washer" cycle to get rid of any non-diaper-safe soap residue before washing diapers. Unfortunately, I usually need to use bleach for this as it's all that's available at the relative's or the rental house.

Elizabeth said...

Hmm, my washer is 18 years old and looks like new, has no scummy buildup or hard water line and has no smell. We have well water so our water is softened. I wash only in cold. Both our cold and heated water is softened as we have separate lines for drinking water. My washer previous to this one was over 20( not sure of exact age as was used and then we passed it on to someone else. ) Also no problems.

Lisa Sharp said...

I clean mine a lot like that. Also using soap nuts helps prevent mold because you don't have the soap build up. :)

Elizabeth said...

Mold? Ewww. Another thing I have always done is always leave the washed open when not in use. Maybe that helps.

Also I went and read the website re the soap nuts. Wouldn't they, as they degrade, be leaving behind bits and pieces that could mold?


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