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14 Ways You’re Shortening the Life of Your Washer and Dryer

The average lifespans of your washing machine and dryer are 10 years. If you're doing these things, however, you could be cutting it short.

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Clothes in washing machine, close upAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

You run the washer/dryer more than you need to

“The life of a laundry machine is completely dependent on how often it’s run,” say the tax experts at H&R Block, who provide that information to help inform commercial taxpayers on depreciation and individual taxpayers on budgetary concerns. Try to stick to eight loads a week or less, which they say will “yield an average of a (low) double-digit life,” regardless of the type of machine (front-loading or top-loading, for example). Running only full loads will help to keep your energy bill down.

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connecting water supply hose to washing machine using adjustable wrenchasadykov/Shutterstock

You didn’t have your washer/dryer professionally installed

Proper installation is critical for all laundry machines. For one, they must be installed “level,” according to one Home Depot sales associate who spoke to Reader’s Digest. Depending on the peculiarities of your floor, that can be more or less complicated. As for dryers, proper venting is critical, and proper venting means selecting the appropriate size and material for your venting tube as well as proper placement of the tube to permit optimal air flow. If you installed your own machines, consider having a professional eyeball your work.

Here are more home improvement projects you should never DIY.

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Preparation and loading clothes in the washing machineProStockStudio/Shutterstock

You’re stuffing your machine

Neither washers nor dryers work optimally when overstuffed, and worse, they have to work harder than they should when they’re too full. That increases wear and tear on the machine’s mechanisms such as the washing machine’s central agitator. Plus, if you pack too many clothes into the machine, some detergent residue could be left behind—which will attract more dirt next time you wear the clothes.

Find out how to whiten your laundry without bleach.

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Pour detergent into washing machineS-Design1689/Shutterstock

Using too much detergent

Using more detergent than the manufacturer recommends is bad for your washing machine, according to Angie’s List. Using too much soap leads to more suds, which could cause your washer to overflow. Have a high-efficiency washer? They require even less soap to wash clothing properly, so be sure to skimp on the detergent and only use soaps marked safe for HE washers.

Dreading your home’s annual deep-clean? These spring cleaning tips will make this year’s routine a total breeze.

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Dried banana dessert Thailand arranged on a with plate on the wooden floorNuttakan Peawyoo/Shutterstock

Washing stuff you shouldn’t be washing

Handwashing certain items is not just for the sake of said item, but also better for your washing machine, too. Hooks and underwires from lingerie can damage your washing machine’s drum, while zippers can scratch the door of your front-loading machine.

Beware of these cleaning tricks that don’t actually work!

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Powder is pouring into container.Ratikova/Shutterstock

Not cleaning out your washing machine’s dispensers

“When you’re done washing a load of laundry, wipe down the detergent and fabric softener dispensers,” Angie’s List advises. “If you don’t, the build-up could cause a clog.” You should also be washing your washing machine monthly if your owner’s manual recommends it.

It might not be your favourite chore, but these laundry hacks will definitely make it a whole lot easier!

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Hand holding a clothes dryer lint filter that is covered with lint.David Smart/Shutterstock

Not cleaning out the lint from your dryer

You should be cleaning the lint out of your lint-catcher every time you run the dryer. Leaving lint in the dryer filter lowers the efficiency of the machine by slowing down the drying process. It can also cause the dryer to overheat and possibly catch fire.

Find out the ways your dryer can make your life easier.

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Flexible aluminum dryer vent hose, removed for cleaning/repair/maintenance.Benjamin Clapp/Shutterstock

Not regularly maintaining your dryer vent

Maintaining your dryer vent (the tube that directs moisture and lint out of the dryer drum and out of the house) is crucial to keeping your dryer in good working order. A good rule-of-thumb is to have your dryer vent inspected and cleaned out once per year, according to Ivey Engineering, an engineering consulting company that serves as an expert witness in cases involving dryer fires.

Check out these clever home improvement ideas under $200!

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Woman hand put color absorbing sheet inside a washing machine, allows to wash mixed color clothes without ruining colors concept.FotoHelin/Shutterstock

Overusing dryer sheets

“Dryer sheets might make your clothing soft, static-free, and smell fresh, but they have a waxy layer that melts in the dryer,” advises Angie’s List. Using too many can gum up the appliance. But no matter how many dryer sheets you use, you need to be cleaning your lint trap on a regular basis—not just cleaning out the lint but actually removing the lint trap and soaking it in sudsy water every couple of months (or more often if you’re also using fabric softener in the washing machine, which also leaves a residue in the dryer).

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Canadian bank notesPhoto: Shutterstock

Leaving stuff in your pockets

Gum, tissues, even coins, and paper money can clog your washer drain, and if they don’t fall out of your pockets during the wash cycle, you’ll probably hear and/or see them spinning around the dryer, which isn’t good for your dryer’s inner workings. So empty your pockets before throwing your clothes in the wash for the sake of your laundry machines running smoothly, efficiently, and over many years.

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Female hands getting out clean clothes from washing machineAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Not taking clothes out of the washer right away

A big problem with washing machines is mould. Mould can lead to a foul-smelling machine, which is definitely going to shorten its life. To avoid mould, take your clean clothes out right away. Bonus points if you also leave the washer door open to allow the machine to air-dry between loads.

Here are the things you can clean with a lint roller!

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washing machine (inside)inxti/Shutterstock

Drying stuff you shouldn’t be drying

If you’re planning on drying anything besides clothing, bedding, and towels, check the manufacturer’s instructions to see if you’re actually going to be harming your dryer in doing so. For example, some dryers are not meant to dry rubber, so if you’ve washed your bathroom rug (with a rubber back), don’t dry it in the dryer unless the instructions say it’s OK.

You’ll be amazed at what these repurposed items can do.

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Image of female hands in pink rubber glove washing washing machineSergey Mironov/Shutterstock

Not reading and following the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions

When Consumer Reports asked laundry machine manufacturers what consumers can do to extend the life of their laundry machines, the same answer kept coming up: follow the manufacturer’s instructions for maintaining the machine. With washing machines, that almost inevitably involves cleaning the wash. Many modern washing machines have self-cleaning cycles.

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Washing machine full of dirty clothes.US 2015/Shutterstock

Drying the wrong things together

Sorting laundry isn’t just for the sake of keeping your whites white. The Home Depot appliance salesman Reader’s Digest spoke to told us never to dry “towels with t-shirts.” When we asked him to elaborate, he explained that your dryer works best when it’s drying items of similar weight and that mixing items of significantly different weight can throw off the balance of the machine.

Next, find out how to clean the dirtiest items in your home.

Originally Published on Reader's Digest