How To Clean Your Washing Machine

From your yoga pants to your bedsheets, your washer carries a heavy load for you, delivering pristine clothes and linens week after week. But did you ever consider you may need to clean the machine that you use to clean your clothes? Vicious cycle, but it’s true, your washing machine should be washed every now and then. Whether you use a top-loader or front-loader, learn how to clean your washing machine.

Washing Machine Cleaning

Has your washing machine lost its shine? Start by cleaning the outside of your washer. Affresh machine cleaning wipes work wonders removing built-in grime from the exterior surface, controls, detergent tray and door.

Once your washing machine is looking so fresh, so clean from the outside, it’s time to think about what’s on the inside. Use a cleaner specifically formulated for your washer interior, such as affresh tablets. With affresh, you simply place one tablet in the washer tub, run the washer on a normal cycle with your hottest water setting and then wipe away any residue left once the cycle ends. The tablet dissolves slowly throughout the entire wash cycle to break up dirt and soap residue.

Bonus Washer Cleaning Tips

Anytime you have water, there’s a chance for mildew. To avoid a mildew smell in your washing machine, keep the door open after you run a load. This allows the machine to air out and dry. With front-load machines in particular, the gasket can be a common culprit contributing to the mildew smell. Wipe your gasket dry when you’re finished with laundry for the day.

black Samsung washing machine

Image via Samsung

Some newer washing machines come with a self-clean function. Samsung is well known for their self-cleaning washers, which remove dirt and bacteria through a combination of soaking, pulsating and high-speed spinning.

Now that you know how to clean your washing machine, there’s only one thing left to do. Give it a spin.

Do you have any washing machine cleaning tips? Share them in the comments below.

This is an updated version of an article previously published on Oct. 28, 2009.
Featured image via LG

Practice Power Outage Food Safety

Power outage? Don’t get left in the dark on whether your food is safe to eat. Allow us to shed some light on the ins and outs of food safety during power outage situations.

Power Outage Preparation

An ounce of prevention is worth a fridge full of food. Be prepared for power outage emergencies with the following tips:

  • Invest in appliance thermometers for your refrigerator or freezer if they don’t come equipped with them already.
  • Keep frozen containers of ice in the freezer. Not only does this help the freezer stay cool, but in the event of a power outage, the ice will keep food colder in the freezer, refrigerator or a cooler. As an added bonus, you get cold, fresh drinking water as it melts.
  • Have coolers on hand to move perishable foods into if needed.
  • Stay stocked up on ice.

Want to be extra prepared? The Frigidaire Gallery Upright Freezer/Refrigerator allows you to switch from refrigerator to freezer as your cold storage needs changes. With ArcticLockTM  walls, food stays frozen for more than two days in power outage events.

dad and son getting food from stainless steel Frigidaire fridge

When the Power Goes Out

If you can, call the power company asking how long the power outage is expected to last. This will help you determine whether you need to take action to save your food. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed during a power outage. Anytime you open the door, you release the cold air and allow warm air to make its way in.

Freezer Tips

The recommended freezer temperature is zero degrees. According to the FDA, a full freezer will keep its temperature for 48 hours as long as the door remains closed. For a half-full freezer, cut that time in half.

Whirlpool Corp recommends using 2 pounds of dry ice in the freezer for every cubic foot of freezer space to keep the food frozen 2 to 4 days.

How do you know if the food is safe after the power comes back on? If the temperature reads 40 degrees or lower, your food should be safe. Don’t know the temperature? If food contains ice crystals, it’s safe to refreeze (although quality/flavor may be compromised).

Refrigerator Tips

The recommended refrigerator temperature ranges from 35 to 38 degrees. According to foodsafety.gov, your refrigerator contents should be safe as long as the power outage lasts no more than 4 hours. However, you must discard any perishable foods that are left in temperatures higher than 40 degrees for 2 hours or longer. If you have perishables you want to keep safe longer, move them into the freezer or a cooler with ice. If you are unsure which foods are considered perishable, consult this handy chart.

When it comes to food safety, better safe than sorry. We operate by the rule of thumb: When in doubt, throw it out!

This is an updated version of an article previously published on Jan. 5, 2011.
Images via Whirlpool

Dryers Become the Next Energy Star

energystarsappliancesThe Environmental  Protection Agency announced this spring the first-ever Energy Star dryer label.

I know what you’re thinking:

“Wait, you mean there wasn’t an Energy Star label for dryers before?”

I know, right? However, the popular thinking was that dryers couldn’t vary much among each other in energy use therefore, there was no reason to call them out.

But about three years ago, the EPA began to take steps to expand the program and reported on ways that clothes dryer efficiency could be improved.

Energy Star Dryers

The new label will recognize highly efficient gas and electric dryers that use about 20% less energy than required by 2015 federal standards.

Over 80% of U.S. homes have a clothes dryer, and these appliances account for approximately 6 percent of residential electricity consumption.

So far, one brand has already jumped on the new category. Whirlpool announced an Energy Star rated Duet steam dryer.

Whirlpool brand Duet® model WED87HED steam dryer

Whirlpool brand Duet® model WED87HED steam dryer

Many of today’s dryers already use temperature or moisture sensors to shut off the dryer once clothes are dry and cease using energy past its usefulness. Dryer models that meet the new Energy Star requirements are likely to improve upon these “auto termination cycles.”

From Energy Star:

Among the more efficient gas and electric dryers that will earn the Energy Star, consumers should expect to encounter a promising new technology. Heat pump dryers recapture the hot air used by the dryer and pump it back into the drum to dry more clothes. By re-using most of the heat, it creates a heat pump dryer that is more efficient and avoids the need for ducts leading heat out of the laundry room.

Custom Home Trends: Butler’s Pantry and Upper-Level Laundry Room

In honor of the Parade of Homes, we asked fellow blogger Nina Lindquist of Homes by Tradition – a custom home builder in the Twin Cities metro area – to share a couple of the new home design trends related to appliances that she’s seeing.

Butler’s Pantry

You know when you’re a guest at someone’s home and they say, “Help yourself” to you? Well, butler’s pantries are the physical manifestation of this familiar phrase.

For those of us who want our guests to just enjoy themselves and stop meddling in the kitchen, a butler’s pantry is genius.

gourmet-kitchen-minnesota

Butler’s pantries are designed to be an extension of the kitchen but are areas mostly for food and beverage serving and servingware storage. I love this example from Homes By Tradition because it incorporates a refrigerator for beverage self-service that can also be used for overflow food when entertaining. Who couldn’t use this around the holidays?

custom-kitchen-lakeville

In this luxury home, the wooden floors continue and a soft arch is used to marry the butler’s pantry to the kitchen instead of closing it off with a door. Not only is this pretty, but it keeps access to the pantry convenient.

butlers-pantry-mn

Ceiling-height cabinets make a dramatic statement while squeezing every last drop of storage out of this room.

custom-pantry-mn

Also (granite’s great, but) the dark stained wood countertop is a showpiece. It’s just exactly how you would want to wow your guests, complete with warm, under-cabinet lighting to say, “Hello! Look at our gorgeous and distinctive custom countertops.”

Upper-Level Laundry Room

You have two cars, so why wouldn’t you have two laundry rooms? OK, so maybe that’s a stretch (but try it on your significant other anyway). But when designing their dream home, many families create spaces that maximize their time and ultimately, happiness – which is why upper-level laundry rooms have become a must-have in new home construction.

laundry_1
The rolling laundry carts, cabinet storage and super-capacity laundry pair heighten the convenience factor of this laundry room by Homes by Tradition.

This is clearly not your standard, dank utility laundry room. The neutral colors really pop against the cheerful wall color, and it’s roomy enough to give a place for everything (and keep everything in its place!).

laundry_2

What would be a must-have in your custom home?

50 Shades of Gray Laundry Pairs

The appliance world has been rocked by gray recently, especially in the laundry room.

But it’s never “gray.”

These washers and dryers – whether front-load or top-load – are called pretty much every other name but looking just as sweet and trendy.

Here are the 8 iterations I could find.

Electrolux-laundry-pair

Sia, eat your heart out. I am (Electrolux) Titanium.

stainless steel asko washer

Asko gray-colored washer, also monikered Titanium.

Maytag changed the name of this finish to Graphite after initial testing showed low response to "Pencil Lead."

Perhaps Maytag changed the name of this finish to Graphite after initial testing showed low response to “Pencil Lead.”

stainless steel washing machine

LG’s lead pencil + metal, aka Graphite Steel.

samsung dark colored washer and dryer

Samsung’s Onyx, which also features WiFi controls through a smartphone app.

maytag maxima colored laundry

Perhaps to match the countertops in your kitchen comes Maytag’s Granite. Nevermind that true Granite comes in a huge variety of colors.

electrolux-stainless-steel

Let’s just call a spade a spade with Electrolux Stainless Steel.