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Smart laundry solutions to ensure you won't damage your washer and dryer.
BY: Ela Schwartz
You wouldn’t think those tough washers and dryers would have anything to fear from your laundry. But surprisingly, those seemingly harmless socks, jeans and comforters -- and even water, detergent and lint -- can damage your washer or dryer.
Here’s what to keep out of your washer and dryer to ensure your machines don’t fall victim to damage:
1. Oversized Loads
Overloading your laundry can cause expensive damage to your washer and dryer. Washers are made to handle about 12 to 15 pounds and should be no more than two-thirds filled. Washing too many items or ones that are too large can cause your washer to become unbalanced -- there’s no mistaking the loud thumping sound of an off-kilter washer in distress.
Comforters lead the flock in the heavyweight department because they absorb water like crazy. Another common offender: denim jeans, which are also much heavier when wet. Likewise, putting these heavy, wet items into the dryer can damage the motor or belt.
2. Tiny Items
Small laundry items can be sucked into hoses and vents, never to be seen again -- if you’re lucky. Or you could find yourself on the other end of a plumbing snake pulling out the infant sock or other small item that clogged the hose and prevented your washer from draining. Small items can also get stuck in dryer vents and possibly cause a fire. Your best bet is to wash and dry smaller items in a mesh bag to keep them out of trouble.
3. Hidden Items
Small clothing items aren’t the only ones that can come back to haunt you by causing damage to your washer or dryer. Necklaces, paper clips and extra nails and screws from your latest home-improvement project that may be left in pockets can damage a washer or dryer by scratching the interior, puncturing a rubber gasket, or clogging the vent or hose.
Pens and lipsticks can not only discolor a load of laundry, but also stain the inside of your washer or dryer and ruin fabrics for many loads afterward. Crayons and gum pose particular hazards for the dryer as they can melt inside the drum and cause a serious mess that’s difficult -- if not impossible -- to remove. Ditto for tissues. They won’t seriously damage your washer or dryer, but we’re certain you have better things to do with your time than pick out a bazillion tiny pieces of freshly washed or dried shredded tissue.
4. Excess Detergent
A good sudsing of laundry detergent is not the key to a better wash. Too much detergent can accumulate over time and lead to washer damage. Follow manufacturers’ instructions on how much detergent to add, and only use HE detergents in a front loading, high-efficiency washer.
5. Hard Water
Hard water contains a high content of calcium and magnesium, which can build up and damage your washing machine as well as fabrics and plumbing pipes. If your municipality has hard water, install a water softener that connects to your plumbing line.
6. Flammable Stains
Never put items in the washer or dryer that are dampened with gasoline or other flammable liquids or oil. This can result in a fire or explosion.
7. Lint Buildup
Clean the lint screen regularly, ideally after each use, and clean the dryer vent every two or three years to help prevent fires or the possibility of gas buildup, which can cause an explosion.|
Ela Schwartz is a writer specializing in home furnishing and remodeling for such publications as Kitchen Portfolio, the New York Daily News and At Home Long Island. She has written the book B&N Basics Home Renovation and has been the proud owner of a high-efficiency washer for several years. Her articles have previously appeared in Home Sweet Solutions.