Most washing machines and dryers are sold as two individual appliances, sometimes as a set but always possible to buy separately. If you have a standard sized laundry room or laundry nook, then side-by-side machines make sense. However, not every home or living situation has room for two full-sized appliances to accommodate at-home laundry. For tiny apartments, mobile accommodations, minimalist houses, and other cozy arrangements – sometimes a stacked washer-dryer is the best possible laundry solution.
You may have moved into a place with a stacked washer-dryer or you may have acquired your own set to fit into a small living space. Either way, we’re here to help. A stacked washer-dryer set is handy, but it’s also a little more high-maintenance than your usual separate appliance pair. Stacked units need to be cared for more frequently and attentively because the machine is handling two functions on top of each other. Let’s dive into our top list of maintenance tips for a stacked washer-dryer.
Leave the Washer Door Ajar over Long Periods
Many stacked washer-dryers today feature front-loading washers. Unlike top-loaders, these washer doors seal tightly to contain water that would otherwise leak out the front aperture. Unfortunately, this seal also makes front-loading washers more prone to mold and mildew growing inside the drum which is usually still wet when sealed.
For this reason, you want to usually keep your washer door ajar. If the laundry is not actively running, pop that door open to allow airflow. Even if there are damp clothes waiting for their turn in the dryer minimize the time that there is moisture sealed inside the washer drum.
Use Only HE Detergent
Stacked washer-dryers are usually smaller than other units and are made more efficient in their use of water and soap. If your stacked laundry center is High Efficiency, marked with an HE, then be sure to use the right kind of detergent. HE laundry detergent is High Efficiency, which means that it is concentrated at twice the power per liter. This allows you to use less overall soap in each load while also getting the same cleaning power. Only use HE detergent in your HE stacked washing machine.
Run Smaller Laundry Loads
Another result of the smaller laundry units is that you will need to run smaller loads of laundry. If you’re used to full-sized machines, adjust your expectations to about 1/2 to 2/3 of a normal load. These smaller machines are very efficient, but you won’t wash more than 4-5 full-sized towels at a time, or more than a few days of clothing outfits per load.
So adapt your laundry habits to running smaller loads more frequently. Sort your clothes from your towels, and your jeans from your shirts, and run everything in its own dedicated load. Technically, having a smaller washer is an excuse to sort and treat your clothes with greater care.
Empty the Lint Screen Before Every Load
When your dryer is on top of your washing machine, it’s even more important than usual to clear the lint trap every time. When you pull clothing out of the dryer, be sure to pull the lint screen from its housing in the same set of motions. Quickly scoop up the lint and toss it in the trash before returning the lint screen. This process is easy and it’s essential to do it every single time the dryer is finished running. Built-up lint can create a fire hazard inside the cabinet, as it can escape the assembly and reach the dryer heating element or even gum up the works for an integrated washing machine.
Scrub the Unit Monthly
Keeping your machines clean is more important with stacked units than with a separate washer and dryer. The reason for this is that mess from one unit can spread to cause maintenance problems with the other. For this reason, you want to wipe down your washer-dryer regularly and thoroughly clean every reachable nook & cranny about once a month. Use a cloth, toothbrush, and vinegar as your cleaning tools along with the usual soapy water and sponges. Sweep underneath, scrub dripped detergent, and stay on the lint removal.
Vacuum the Lint Duct
Speaking of lint, about once a year take the hose of your vacuum cleaner and the thinnest attachment end to clean out the lint duct assembly. Take out your lint screen and point the vacuum cleaner hose down into space just vacated. This area is always full of lint and can eventually become clogged. Likewise, you may want to check the silver tube exhaust duct behind the unit and clear it of any potential lint clogs about once a year as well.
Keep a Step-Stool Handy to Maintain the Upper Dryer
The dryer in a washer-dryer unit is stacked on top, which can make it difficult to reach for cleaning and maintenance. Many homeowners have found that keeping a small step-stool near the stacked unit is extremely handy for keeping up with regular maintenance. You can keep a small folding step-stool nearby, a step ladder, or create more permanent steps that help you access key upper areas of the unit.
Inspect and Clean Fill Hoses
The fill hoses are the water lines from the wall to the washer portion of your washer-dryer. These should be inspected about once a year to confirm that they are undamaged and haven’t been leaking. If the hoses are dirty, clean them. You can also remove the hoses and inspect them for clogs from hard water. This is also a good time to check your drain line.
Treat Regularly for Mold Prevention
Stacked washer-dryer sets are sometimes more prone to mold and mildew growth than other washer units. It’s a good idea to treat both for potential moisture buildup and mold growth instead of waiting for trouble to happen. For your dryer, simply ensure that it is never picking up moisture from the washer below. For your washer, occasionally run loads of laundry or even empty loads with white vinegar and borax. This will blast away any growing mold and discourage new growths from taking root.
Remove and Clean Soap Dispensers Separately
Last but not least, remember that soap dispenser cups can usually be removed. When those cups get scungy with dust stuck to the detergent residue, there’s no need to struggle with a toothbrush to reach every crevice. Instead, unhook those cups from their plastic clips and soak them in hot water before giving them a brush-scrubbing and a run through the dishwasher.
—Having a stacked washer-dryer set is tidy and convenient, but it does take a little more attentive maintenance. For more washer-dryer tips or for professional assistance with an appliance repair, contact us today!