Getting down and dirty
Not that long ago, I read a housekeeping blog on how to clean your front-load washer and dryer. What do you mean? The forced and mandatory clean cycle is not enough? Say it ain’t so, Joe! It always seems that pesky reminder message appears when I am dealing with Mt. St. Laundry and (No! Thank you very much!) I do not wish to run the clean cycle right at this moment. Thankfully, there is a by-pass mode which allows me to complete five more loads before having to run the cycle to clean the washer itself.
I would be lying to you if I said I had never encountered problems with my front loader before. My last set developed a distinct (Oh, shall we say used sweat sock) odor that no matter how many cycles of bleach, vinegar, or various washer-manufacturer cleaning supplies could not eradicate. A quick cursory look on the internet told me what I didn’t want to learn – mold! We had a serious mold issue in our tub which turns out is a known proclivity of front loading washers. When you have a child that is off the charts allergic to mold, this knowledge that her clothes could lead to anaphylactic shock was defeating at best. Short of replacing the tub, a costly expenditure to say the least, there was little we could do to remedy the situation.
We spoke to a technician who gave us some ideas of old fashioned remedies that helped for a while, before it became obvious we would have to replace the washer. When we bought the new set (another front loader) I did a ton of reading on how to prevent the mold build-up from happening again. Most information centered on not using commercial fabric softeners and using specific detergents for front loaders. All the forums highly recommended (as in Do not pass go and do not collect $200) never skipping the clean cycle on your front loader. Yeah, well tell that to my children who generate Mt. St. Laundry in the first place, and then need a specific shirt or uniform by dawn’s light. Where are the cleaning fairies when I need them?
After doing a little further research, I learned that just running the clean washer cycle was probably not enough and some other periodic cleaning would need to be done manually or should I say “womanually”. Hope springs eternal, and to be honest, I want to take care of the items God has chosen to bless my family. Not that many years ago, my husband washed his clothes in a bucket in the middle of a desert, when fighting for our country. A washing machine is a luxury globally, and even though the irritating reminder comes on at the least opportune time, I do want to take the best care I can of the old gal (Okay, really she is only a couple years old. I don’t want to offend her).
The process involves creating a mixture of half water and half vinegar. For the chemists among us, that would be a 1:1 ratio. Grabbing some paper towels and Q-tips is also very handy. Using the mixture you wipe down the interior tub and every available surface on and inside the washer. Then comes the part of cleaning inside the rubber seals on the tub and the tiny holes where water filters out. At first, cleaning the large areas just felt good and productive, but by the time I got to pulling back the rubber seals and digging into those tiny holes thoughts of “Well, I am sure glad I got a degree in advanced chemistry for this job” were at the forefront of my thoughts. Let me tell you people what came out on those cotton swabs was beyond disgusting. I liken it to what the cleaning lady saw after the birth of Reed when the doctors and nurses and my husband and my new baby left me lying there on the table because two of us mommas shared the same doctor in our small town hospital. I had the luck of delivering two minutes before the other gal. Rather than finish piecing me back together, there I lay waiting for almost an hour. The poor cleaning lady thought the room was empty and just came right on in to the shock of her life. Needless to say the gunk that came out of my washing machine was equally as shocking!
The longer I worked the more my efforts resulted in more hidden disgusting gunk being revealed. My thoughts were not pleasant and a whole lot of grumbling was going on. Then I was reminded of the time my lamenting about cleaning kids, dishes, and laundry resulted in my Mama saying, “Well, bless your heart. Isn’t it terrible you have all those things to clean?” Pretty convicting words!
Sitting on my laundry room floor surrounded by more yuck than I knew was imaginable; I began to examine my heart. How many times do I harbor the gunk of life and bring that with me to the throne room of God? More often than I want to admit. I want to bring my requests and my concerns – a laundry list, if you will – without cleaning out the yucky stuff first. It was a humbling lesson. A reminder from God what place I sometimes reserve for him in my busy day. Definitely not something I would boast about. Thankfully though, my God specializes in messy people. He loves us even we forget to clean out the dirt and have it hidden in all kinds of places. Instead of grumbling like me about misplaced opportunities, God has the crimson blood of his son which scrubs every heart clean and fresh as snow.
Even though that was seriously one of the dirtiest jobs I have ever done, today I am so incredibly thankful for endless grace for messy hearts and a washing machine that still gets the job done!