I like my appliances to last a long time. When I shell out hundreds of dollars, I want to know that I won't have to make the same investment again anytime soon. Consequently, I'm religious about washer and dryer maintenance.
It doesn't take much energy, time, or money to keep washers and dryers in peak working order, but such efforts will ensure a long life span for both appliances.
1. Keep the lint trap clean.
When lint builds up over several dryer cycles, it forces the machine to work harder for the same output. This decreases its life span and will eventually reduce its overall efficiency. I always clean the lint trap after every load, and I keep a small plastic trash can in the laundry room for that specific purpose.
2. Clean and replace dryer ducts.
If lint is permitted to build up in the ductwork, it can eventually catch fire. It will also have a negative impact on the dryer's performance, which means higher energy costs and a longer cycle required to thoroughly dry clothes. Every three or four months, inspect the ductwork and clear out any clogs. To improve performance, replace flimsy plastic ducts with solid metal options, which will only cost a few dollars more.
3. Replace cracked or worn hoses.
Worn hoses on a washer can cause leaks, and if they burst, a flood is imminent. To avoid this, replace worn or cracked hoses immediately, preferably with tough steel braided hoses that are less likely to wear thin. You can get a two-pack of these at your local hardware or home improvement store for under $30.
4. Clean inlet ports.
Hard water and well water will leave sediment and dirt in water inlet ports on most washers. You can clean these out once a year (once every six months if you use well water) to keep the appliance running at top efficiency. Just detach the hoses, drain them into a bucket, and clean the screens and ports with a toothbrush or similar tool.
5. Run smaller loads.
When you add too many clothes, towels, and other items to your washer and dryer, you make them work harder and reduce their performance. The occasional large load won't ruin your appliances, but you shouldn't make a habit of it.
Sometimes, a washer can accommodate more than a dryer. If this is the case with your set, dry half loads every time. This will allow you to use less water for washing, but will eliminate the risk of overloading your dryer.
6. Don't over dry.
In that same vein, your dryer cycle's length should correspond to the load size. Check your clothes at ten-minute intervals rather than waiting for the buzzer to sound. You should only have to do this five or six times before you get a feel for how fast your dryer works. Thereafter, you can set it to that specific time.
The Chicago Tribune, Washer and Dryer Maintenance