Multi-family properties

How to Deep Clean Your Properties Washing Machines

Deep cleaning is essential when turning over rental units, and renters may need some helpful intervention to keep the machines efficient and sanitary. Tips and tricks on how to deep clean your multifamily units washing machines.

Washing Machine in multifamily unit

Deep cleaning as a whole is a multifamily property manager’s greatest challenge, and washing machines can be most frustrating. They need regular cleaning to reduce repairs as well as mildew and bacteria, but how many tenants perform the routine maintenance? Not many. So, deep-cleaning is essential when turning over rental units, and renters may need some helpful intervention to keep the machines efficient and sanitary.

Multifamily landlords need to replace washing machines with the best deals available, so the result is often a mix of brands and models. But software, unfortunately, can’t provide the regular cleaning and preventive maintenance that washing machines need to reduce mildew and bacteria. Different tenants have completely different habits of clothes-washing, so it helps to have a solid cleaning routine on hand, as well as some easy ways to help your tenants ... help you.

It’s the nature of washing machines to get grimy, and the grime is typically out-of-sight. So, deep cleaning a washing machine should be routine. As tenant lifestyles vary widely, it helps to set guidelines for routine maintenance and deep cleaning:

  • Quarterly wipe down of washing machines and deep cleaning cycle. Follow the wipe-down steps below, and use a cleaning tablet to run a deep-clean cycle on hot while you perform other quarterly checks and maintenance on the rental unit.
  • Annual deep clean of clothes washers, and/or at the turn-over of tenants. Deep cleaning is needed at least annually, or at the turn-over of tenants if more than 6 months since the last deep clean. (SmartHQ can help with maintenance scheduling!) In addition to keeping the washers efficient and sanitary, your tenants will appreciate the service and clean machines, and may even learn a few things about routine cleaning!

On to the Deep Cleaning the Washing Machines!

Cleaning Materials You will Need

  • Liquid Dish Soap
  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Quart Sized Bowl/Tupperware
  • Paper Towels or Microfiber Cloths*
  • Bath-Size Towel
  • Large Sponge
  • Scrubbing Brush
  • For Top Loaders: Socket Wrench w/ 8-10-inch Extension

* You could wash these in the final wash, if you have time to dry them.

Wipe Down the Exterior and Washer Mat

Use the following cleansing mix in your bowl to wipe down the entire exterior of the washer, and the mat beneath the washer if it’s sitting on one. Use this solution for the remaining washing/scrubbing as well.

For side-loading machines with the drain pump filter access panel on front, you may want to do the exterior wipe-down after you drain the basin from the emergency hose, so you use the bowl for draining (and then clean/rinse it), and you don’t have to create the cleaning solution twice.

Side-Loading: Drain the Emergency Drain Tube, Then Clean and Scrub the Filter

Most side-loaders have an access door for the drain pump filter and emergency drain hose on the lower front. If so, open the panel, place your towel underneath to catch any overflow or splashing water, and use your bowl for draining water from the drain tube. Hold the drain tube over the bowl, remove the cap, and allow the drain water to drain. (Should be less than a quart.) Put the cap back on the tube, and tuck it back in place. Now use your bowl for mixing the following solution to do the rest of the cleaning:

- 2 squirts of dishwashing liquid

- ¼ cup baking soda

- ¼ cup hot water

- 2 cups vinegar

If cleaning multiple units per day, it’s a good idea to pre-mix at least a gallon, so you don’t have to mix it at the rental unit. Now remove the filter by turning counter-clockwise and pulling it out. Rinse it under hot water, and use the cleaning brush with the cleaning solution to thoroughly scrub the filter. Set the filter aside and use the paper towels or microfiber cloth to plunge out the cavity where the filter goes, then use dry towels to absorb most of the moisture from the cavity before returning the filter and turning clockwise to screw it in.

Top-Loading Washers: Remove and Clean the Agitator Unit

Instead of the previous step used for side-loaders, you will clean the agitator unit and the fabric softener insert. Remove the fabric-softener insert and cap from the top of the agitator. Use your socket wrench and extension to loosen and remove the agitator bolt, then lift the agitator up, giving the bolt a rinse and setting it aside.

Under running hot water (in sink), use the scrubbing brush with the cleaning solution to thoroughly clean the agitator unit.Also scrub and rinse the fabric softener insert and the agitator cap. Return the agitator unit to its place, use the bolt to tighten it back down with the socket wrench, and return the cap/softener insert into place.

4. Side-LoadingWashers: Clean the Door Seal Gasket/Liner

Inside the door of a side-loading washing machine, you’ll see the rubber gasket seal. It has a couple folds and a channel. This is a breeding ground for bacteria, especially if the tenants don’t leave the door open after each wash. Using paper towels and the cleaning solution, lift the fold on the door seal, and thoroughly wipe out the dirt/grime underneath, and the groove/channel next to the fold. After this deep clean, wipe down the outer parts of the gasket, then run a dry cloth through the folds, channels, and around the outer surface of the seal.

Help Them Help You! Appliance-Management Tips to Tenants

They may or may not help with appliance maintenance, but asking is the first step in receiving, and any efforts from the tenants can reduce your time, costs and headaches!

Tape a Note Onto the Washer

You can cover it with clear packaging tape, or just make it a sheet in extra large print, slipped into a sheet protector, and taped to the washing machine. However you choose to secure it, provide your tenants with your ask for their help with the appliances:

  • Please leave the washing machine door open after each wash.

           This prevents build-up of mildew and bacteria.

  • Please clean the dryer lint filter before each use.

            This will help dry your laundry-drying and prevent mechanical issues.

Maintenance Visits Email Notices Are Opportunities Help Your Helpers and Increase Satisfaction

Let your tenants know in advance when you are planning maintenance visits. If there are any issues with access, use your best judgment, but otherwise take the opportunity to let them know in advance what you’ll be doing, so they see you care about removing mildew and bacteria. Email is excellent for efficient group-messaging. If you blind-carbon-copy them, they can’t see the other recipients, and any response only goes back to you. It’s a good idea to set up an email that’s just used for these tenant communications, and perhaps a quarterly or annual newsletter!

To find out more about the appliance-management and diagnostics capabilities of GE SmartHQ Management, click here for a free demo.

request a demo
Subscribe to our newsletter!

Join our blog newsletter to stay up to date on property management industry insights.