Appliance Spotlight: Washers

Horizontal photo female hands putting dirty laundry into washing machine

The washer is one of the heaviest utilized appliances in the home. For this reason, understanding proper care and troubleshooting is an absolute necessity.


Prevent Soap Scum Buildup

Add 2-3 cups of vinegar and 1 cup of baking soda (substitute with 4 Oz of CLR) into the drum or dispenser and run for one cycle using hot water. After the first cycle, run for a second cycle with just baking soda to deodorize.  If done regularly, it is unlikely that you will have to scrub anything down, but always check.

Check the Boot

On front load washers, check under the rubber gasket and scrub with vinegar.  While mold is rare, it is more likely to show up if you do not use bleach or do not air out the washer. If mold is discovered, using a mixture of 1 part bleach and 1 part water can usually remove it.

Clean Under and Behind

Regularly cleaning under and behind appliances is always the way to go. Be careful with washers, as the hose that brings the water is usually secured on the back. Make sure this hose is properly secured before using.


Air Out (if possible)

Obviously if you have kids or pets that have access to your laundry room, you probably want to keep the washer closed. However, after running a load, keeping the washer and soap dispenser doors open will allow for moisture to evaporate, and helps prevent odors.

Use Cold Cycles to Save Energy

Most detergents are optimized for cold water; this is a good thing, as many materials fare better in cooler cycles. Washing on cold when possible can significantly help cut down on energy consumption.

Load Denim Appropriately

Denim, or heavier fabrics can throw off the balance of a washer. If the washer starts “jumping”, it is often because there is weight imbalance or it is overloaded. Shutting off the washer and shifting things around usually solves the problem.

Run Weekly

Run the washer at least once a week to flush it out and keep the water inside from souring.

Check Your Pockets

Make sure to double check pockets before loading up the washer. Items in pockets can sometimes damage clothes and the washer.

Read the Tags on Your Clothes and Linens

The tags offer advise on how to wash the clothes. Follow this advise; not everything can be washed in a washing machine. Always err on the side of caution, if unsure, contact the clothing manufacturer for clarification (or at the very least use a gentle cycle).

Wikipedia has a pretty detailed explanation on laundry symbols. 

Don’t Leave it Alone

Never leave any appliance running unsupervised. While it may be tempting to load up some clothes, pack up the car and head to Kenai; remember that any appliance can fail. This isn’t just an Aurora thing or a JBER or Alaska thing, this is everywhere. Things break; catching a leak mid cycle is far better than catching it after a two day fishing trip.


“This washer is too small, I can’t fit in my comforter”

Chances are, your comforter probably shouldn’t be placed in a washer (it probably says it on the laundry tag as comforters are usually pretty delicate). While there is some variance between washer size on JBER, almost all are around 3.5 cu ft; a standard, normal size for a washer.

“Help! My washer is overflowing”

Flooding or water leaks is always an emergency and should be followed up with a call to maintenance. If you are able to, find the supply lines behind the washer and shut them off by turning the valve clockwise, this will prevent any further flooding. Be sure to check inside and pull out some items for a later load; one of the most common causes of floods is overloading the washer.

“This machine keeps ripping my clothes”

Most of the times when clothes rip it is because a) they were run on a far too rigorous cycle or b) the machine was overloaded (which provides very little room for clothes to move when the agitator is working). If either of these are not the case, contact maintenance to inspect the machine. Keep in mind that most light or thin fabrics usually should be hand washed or run on a delicate or rinse cycle.

“There are bubbles everywhere, they’re coming out of everything”

You (or a clever prankster) probably loaded it up with dish soap, bubble mix, etc. Try running a rinse cycle or two with vinegar (and have towels at the ready).

You should call maintenance if there is a leak. Water extraction is always an emergency.

“Can I bring my own dryer, it has Alexa built in and lots of buttons”

Of course! You’re welcome to bring your own if the hook ups are compatible (i.e. gas or electric), just know that ours must be stored in the unit and we will not service privately owned appliances.


Broken washers are beyond frustrating. For this reason, we created an emergency laundromat open 24/7 that’s accessible to residents who experience washer/dryer maintenance issues. Our maintenance team can provide the access code to this laundromat located in our Self Help Center at 338 Hoonah Avenue.