These machines usually do the cleaning for you. Here’s what you can do for them.

By Katherine Owen
December 23, 2020
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Credit: Getty/seksan Mongkhonkhamsao

What does your typical chores list look like? Wipe down the counters, run the laundry, unload the dishwasher—the usual suspects for day-to-day living? Modern technology has made for a quicker to-do list thanks to machines that do the cleaning for you (and yet, still none of the loading, unloading, and folding…). But every now and then, it pays to give the nooks and crannies of these devices a little TLC. An occasional deep-cleaning ensures quick and easy chores the rest of the time. Plus, what better way to start the new year? Grab your gloves and get ready for a deep clean with long-lasting benefits—laundry that’s a little fresher, dishes that are a little more sparkly, and a kitchen that’s a whole lot less greasy. Here’s how.

1. Your Washing Machine’s Drain Pump Filter

When it comes to deep cleaning the laundry room, dryer vents tend to get all the attention and for good reason. According to the National Fire Protection Association, about a third of laundry-room related fires are thanks to lint buildup. But did you know your washing machine has a filter of its own that needs regular cleaning? While the risks are far less serious, smelly clothes are still a no-go. 

Why To Clean It

Cleaning tablets are handy for cleaning out the inside of your machine, but there may be another culprit for your washer’s stink if you have a front-loading machine. At some point this year (perhaps in a fit of desperation for things to do at home?), everyone on social media discovered the drain pump filter at once. Thanks to viral cleaning accounts like Go Clean Co on Instagram or Speed Cleaning Queen on TikTok, the masses were introduced to a chore that rarely makes the list, despite the fact most manufacturers recommend it be done anywhere from once every six months to once a month.

How To Clean It

You just need a towel and a bowl or bucket. Look for the small door on the front of your machine and pop it open to find a small drain hose and a filter. Drain the water from the hose into your bowl or bucket, and clean out that filter. As the experts in the videos recommended, you might just have to do a quick search for your specific machine. Here are guides for Samsung, LG, Whirlpool, and GE.

2. Your Range Hood Vent

The humble range hood fan–a lifesaver for stovetop mishaps, from greasy bacon smoke to burnt popcorn. But with all that it does to whisk away smoke and smells, it’s only natural it ends up with veneer of grease and gunk. 

Why To Clean It

Buildup over time can prevent the filter from doing its job. That means grease, smoke, and smells have nowhere to go but elsewhere into your kitchen. Eventually, a quick wipe-down is not enough. To really get rid of all that baked-on residue, a serious soak is in order.

How To Clean It

Home Depot suggests filling your sink with a mix of hot water, dish soap, and baking soda. Release the filter from the hood and pop it into the sink. Give it a soak for 15-20 minutes followed by a good scrubbing and it’s ready to dry off and get back to work helping you keep your kitchen clean and odor-free.

3. Your Dishwasher Filter

In conjunction with viral videos about cleaning your washing machine filter, videos about cleaning one’s dishwasher filter also achieved social media fame this year. Users found out this removable filter requires cleaning every couple months to every couple weeks and were met with some horrific buildup. Be warned: If it’s the first time you’ve addressed it in a while (or ever…), prepare for some serious ick.

Why To Clean It

It may not necessarily harm your dishwasher if the filter doesn’t get cleaned regularly, but it certainly will reduce its effectiveness. The bad news? The quieter your dishwasher, the more likely that it requires manual cleaning. Consumer Reports explains that manufacturers moved away from self-cleaning filters about ten years ago, as those required a (noisy) grinder to deal with all the debris.

How To Clean It

It varies washer to washer, but look underneath your machine’s floor spray arm for a plastic cylindrical tube or round knob. Twist that and prepare yourself. Give it a good (but gentle!) rinse in hot water and wipe it down. Simply twist it back into place, ensuring it’s firmly back on. For more, check out Go Clean Co’s guide.