What led to my desire to “strip” my washing machine of gunk and buildup?
For some time now when I take my freshly washed laundry out of the washer to put into the dryer I’d find little hard chunks of brown, waxy debris. It didn’t smell horrible, in other words…it wasn’t poop! It felt like soap and crumbled easily in my hand. There weren’t huge quantities of it but it was enough to definitely notice. I knew it was buildup coming from somewhere inside the washer.
The above happens off and on over time and I finally decide to see if I can find where the brown gunk is coming from.
Step 1 (for me): This depends on your washing machine.
I took the top off of my agitator. It is a two part thing that I never use. Inside the agitator I can tell it fills with water as the washer is used and drains when the washer drains. I look down inside and can see hard brown AND slimy brown gunk. Gross!
The agitator does come off completely and this would probably be the preferred method of cleaning it, but mine is attached with a bolt that is clearly rusted and I fear that if I tried to take it off it would either break off or not be able to be reattached.
Step 2: I take a bit of vinegar and pour it in to the agitator and it does not drain down as it should. The gunk is creating a barrier.
Step 3: With the help of my trusty shish kabob stick and a flashlight I dig down in there, break off and scrape off as much as I can. Whatever I break off or scrape off falls down inside the agitator. (I am pretty disgusted at this point, to know that my laundry has been washing in water that moves through this slimy gunked up thing!
Step 4: I fill the tub with hot water on the largest setting and as the water rises so does the water inside the agitator. I continue to dig around in there and to pour vinegar inside.
I hold my finger on the mechanism that makes the washer agitate and let it swish around.
Step 5: The brown chunks of muck and slimy layer of film on the water was gross and I worried about trying to let it drain. So I got out the wet/dry vac and sucked it all out. Then I let it fill again and I repeated Step 3 and 4 continuing to add more vinegar.
Step 6: After repeated rinse and agitation cycles and looking down inside with the flashlight I became confident that I could not get it any cleaner without removing it. I filled it one more time with hot water and poured 2 cups of bleach inside the agitator.
Finally, I ran another rinse cycle with fresh clean water and when I was satisfied there was no more gunk agitating out of it I called it a day!
Let me say, these photos are gross, the gunk was gross and the smell was really gross. But other than sporadic chunks of brown waxy stuff in the bottom of my washer from time to time there was no other signs that it was this bad. The water was always clear when washing/rinsing my laundry.
So…when is the last time you inspected your washer with a shish kabob stick and flashlight?
I’m Julie, a former cloth diaper retailer who discovered a passion for the industry. Now, instead of selling cloth diapers, I advocate them and promote small businesses I love who sell and manufacture them.
I’m the wife of a fireman and mother of three. I have a daughter and identical twin sons.