A Filthy Secret No One Talks About

Whenever I’m resentful of having to do laundry, I quickly remind myself of the women I witnessed in the Philippines, or Tanzania, or India who walked to the nearest rivers with baskets of garments where they beat their clothes with rocks, scrubbed them with abrasive sand, wrung everything out by hand—and then walked home with a wet, heavy load of clean-ish clothes. Me? I simply gather my dirty garments from the floor and throw everything into a big automated box that will do the work for me. 

Trust me, I recognize my privilege.

I’m so spoiled that I never even realized I needed to clean my washing machine. I assumed that since it’s an appliance that cleans, it would be inherently clean too. It wasn’t until my clothes started smelling a bit musty that I took a whiff inside the drum. My reaction? “Ew, gross!”

After some Internet sleuthing, it all made sense. The wet, warm environment breeds mildew and mold. Bits of fibre, foods, and other organic materials get trapped in the nooks and crannies of washing machines. And finally, detergents and hard water build up and clog mechanisms. 

In the interest of sharing what important lessons I learned, I present: 

5 Ways to Optimize Your Washing Machine.

  1. Use a cloth and warm soapy water to wipe the rubber seal around the drum. Get deep into the folds! Try to do this after every few washes to prevent mould and bacteria.
  2. Clear the filters and the drain around the seal too. The goal is to prevent more debris from getting further into the main drain where it can get lodged in an inaccessible spot. 
  3. Give your detergent drawer a good rinse regularly so mold and mildew can’t grow. (It’s designed to be removed easily.)
  4. Check your drain filter often. It’s usually at the front of your washing machine at the bottom. Check your manual on how to clear it out—every machine is different. (Have a small container ready to catch the water and/or gunk that could come shooting out.)
  5. Once a month, run a hot water wash with a specially formulated product like etee’s Washing Machine Cleaner. When you use a mere 5 tablespoons of this planet-friendly, bleach-free powder, it effectively removes and prevents odour-causing residue and build-up.





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