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Cleaning Your Washing Machine Filter

Posted 12/15/2020

Image by Steve Buissinne from PixabayImage by Steve Buissinne from PixabayLast week I came across a perfect example of my blog’s catchphrase ‘Shouldn’t I have known that by now?’. I have been using a washing machine pretty much daily for the past thirty years or so. I thought I did a rather good job at keeping my family’s clothes clean and maintaining the machine that cleaned them, but I was mistaken.

I have been using my current front-load washing machine for over three years. It cleans our clothes well and works quietly and efficiently. Until recently, I never realized that I was neglecting an important task for washing machine maintenance: cleaning the filter. I will say that I did notice that there was a sticker on the front of the washing machine on the bottom left corner. In hind sight, it seems I should have realized that the sticker was there for a reason. I am embarrassed to say that I never took the time to get down on the floor to read it since we moved to this house. But, last week I did.



I am not sure if I ever realized that the sticker was attached to a small door. I do know that once I got down to investigate the sticker, I was quite surprised at what it said.



"Please clean the filter once every two months". Huh. Who knew that washing machines had filters? I have used a multitude of washer styles and models. I have probably done close to five thousand loads of laundry. I have never cleaned a washing machine filter. I guess it was time though, since I was already about thirty-seven months behind schedule for this machine. Although I was a bit frightened, I opened the little door.



I have since discovered that you should unplug your washer before proceeding any further, and that you should place a towel under the filter area since there will be some water that leaks out during the filter removal. This will save you running for the nearest bathroom's hand towel like I did. The filter screwed out easily and then the smell came with it!



There was a fair amount of hair twisted up in the filter. There were some pine needles and a few tiny sticks, and there was a small piece from a cut-up credit card. All of it was covered in a thick sludge, a very very stinky, thick sludge which I quickly washed away while holding my breath. Once the filter was clean, I took some paper towel and wiped out the inside of the filter. The process was embarrassingly easy, and this is definitely not a chore to be neglected due to lack of time!



After I twisted the filter back in and closed the door, I wiped up all the water from the floor and removed the towel. I left a dry paper towel under the door until after I ran the next load of laundry, just to make sure that there were no leaks and that the filter was set in place properly. 

Not all machines will have the filter in the same place. Some front load machines require the front bottom panel to be removed to access the filter. Some top load machines need the agitator removed to find the filter. Some machines, especially older models, do not even have a filter. I do recommend that you check your washer manual or do some research online to see if your machine has a filter and, if so, how to clean it.

My laundry area seems a bit fresher now. I think that some of the smell that I thought was coming from the inside of the washing machine and the door seal, was actually coming from the dirty filter, but I still leave the washer door ajar between washes to prevent the inside from getting musty. I am wondering if there may be a backlog of sludge in the water lines since the filter went so long without being cleaned and so I will probably check on it again soon. I know that I will definitely not neglect my washing machine filter maintenance in the future! 


Image by Jill Wellington from PixabayImage by Jill Wellington from Pixabay


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