Quick Tip: Regular Use of White Vinegar Will Keep Your Washing Machine from Smelling

If you have a front load washing machine and have experienced a horrible stench coming from one, you will appreciate this tip.  If you have a front loader and have no idea what I’m talking about, you might want to try this as a preventative measure.  This tip comes from my personal experience, research, research, and more research.  I hope it’s helpful for you!

Long story short, I clean my front-load washing machine weekly, after washing my microfiber cleaning cloths.  I leave the door open between uses, never leave wet laundry in the machine, and I use natural laundry products. Pretty much doing all the ‘right’ things for a non-odorous washing machine.

Quite a few months ago, my less-than-a-year old washing machine (which I absolutely LOVE) started smelling.  It would go away when I ran the self-clean cycle only to return a load or two later. Our laundry never smelled (thankfully) but the stench coming from my laundry room was strong and couldn’t be ignored.

After googling the problem and not finding any new solutions, I called the manufacturer.  They recommended that I try to ‘shock’ the machine with 6 cups of white vinegar and the hottest setting (sanitize).  Then repeat this weekly for a month with the hope that it would go away. This worked for less than a week and the smell returned.

I started thinking about this solution and realized that perhaps I needed to be doing something with each load of laundry to kill whatever was causing this scent with each load.  If the manufacturer recommended cleaning the washer with white vinegar, I started to be add white vinegar to more loads than just my towels.  I love using white vinegar as a fabric softener with bath towels!  I added 1/4 cup of white vinegar to every.single.load of laundry.  Guess what?  The scent hasn’t returned and it’s been almost six MONTHS!

Here’s what you need:

  • vinegar
  • container to decant the vinegar (if you’d like) – I use my Clean Mama Home glass spray bottle and seal it with the included cap
  • label if you’d like
  • funnel to transfer liquid

Here’s what I know:

I figured that there might be some residual detergent build-up that wasn’t fully rinsing.  So I switched to laundry powder. In my research I’ve found that some liquid detergents don’t fully rinse and can leave some build-up in the inner workings of your washing machine.  If you have this issue and it isn’t going away, I recommend the combination of white vinegar with every load of laundry AND using laundry powder.  Molly’s Suds is the only laundry powder I suggest using – it’s rated an “A” in EWG’s Healthy Guide to Cleaning – no residue and it works beautifully!  (Keep an eye out for something really exciting with Molly’s Suds + Clean Mama!)

Here’s how to keep your washing machine from smelling, naturally:

Simply add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser or one of those fabric softener balls.  The white vinegar will act as a fabric softener AND it will keep your washing machine smelling fresh and clean!

Why would you want to switch to vinegar as a fabric softener? Most conventional fabric softeners and dryer sheets are not only toxic (read more here from EWG.com), but they also coat fibers making clothes and towels harder to clean because they build up with fabric softener.  If you love your fabric softener and dryer sheets and love that scent that’s associated with clean laundry, you probably don’t want to make the switch to something natural if it’s unscented.  Go to this post for 4 ways to naturally soften + freshen your laundry.

What do you think? Have you ever experienced this with your washing machine?  Ready to try a different approach?

Go to this post for this free printable infographic with instructions for cleaning your washing machine.


Quick Tip : On Your Way Up Basket

Quick Tip - Use An On Your Way Up Basket via Clean MamaYears ago I talked about this tip and today I’m bringing it back because it’s still working for us and I think it’s a great tip!

QUICK TIP : Use a basket (or a bag, bin, or tub) to corral items from one area to be returned later to another area.

Put Stuff In Here and Bring It Up 'On Your Way Up' via Clean Mama

We do a little clean up in the evenings before dinner – I either set a timer for the kids for 5 minutes or we’ll just have a contest to see who can pick up the most items from the lower level.  (With a preschooler that loves Duplos, this is pretty easy.)  The kids bring any items upstairs that need to be in their rooms and they check the basket on the steps to see what else needs to be returned to their proper places.

On Your Way Up Basket via Clean Mama

How do the items get in the basket?  It’s basically anything that we don’t want to bring upstairs right now.  So during the day it might be a couple socks left on the floor or a toy I find in the refrigerator and it can also be if the kids don’t want to bring it up right now.  This works well for us because sometimes you just don’t want to go all the way upstairs to put one sock away.  (Yes, this sounds lazy, but I bet you feel this way too :))  Everything gets returned to its proper place at the end of the day and that’s what matters.

So tell me – do you have an ‘on your way up basket’?

How to Make a S’mores Caddy

Make a S'mores Caddy via Clean Mama

This summer I’ve been doing a little prep work ahead of time in planning for some of our favorite summer activities.  One of the hands-down favorites around here?  S’mores in the firepit!  Gather a couple simple ingredients and keep them on hand for an impromptu summer (or fall) bonfire, over the grill, or if you’re desperate, in the microwave.  This s’mores caddy/kit would be great to bring as a little summer party hostess gift too.

 S'mores Caddy Supplies via Clean Mama

The ingredients (add or subtract your favorites) – you’ll need the basics (graham crackers, chocolate bars, marshmallows) and if you really want to be prepared, add napkins and baby wipes so you can just grab your caddy and head outside for fun!

 Put Together a S'mores Caddy via Clean Mama

Put the ingredients in a bin or container – I keep the s’mores kit in the pantry and I’m using a bin that I can re-purpose in the pantry after s’mores season is over.

Quick Tip - Keep Grill and Firepit Supplies in a Drawer so They're Handy and Accessible via Clean Mama

 I also keep the skewers in a grill drawer by the back door/patio so they’re easy to grab on the way out the door.

What are your favorite s’mores ingredients?

An App You Need : The BrightNest App

Today I’m sharing a really great (FREE!) iPhone app that I think you’ll love!  The app is from the clever team at BrightNest (one of my favorite websites) and it brings together all the things about you and your home in one easy to manage app that makes your life a little bit simpler.  I’ve been really enjoying using it and I just know you’ll love it!

(Android user?  The BrightNest Android App will be available this summer 2014!  If you would like to be added to the wait list, please email info@brightnest.com with your email information. You will be personally notified once the app has been released.)

Here’s what’s new in the BrightNest app:BrightNest app2

•   INTERACTIVE HOME QUIZ – It’s like an OkCupid quiz for your home. Each time you answer a question, it matches you with witty, relevant content customized to you and your life.

•   CUSTOM TASKS – So you can schedule what’s on your brain. When it’s time to get the job done, you’ll get an automatic reminder.

•   NEW, BEAUTIFUL LAYOUT –  It’s gorgeous, functional, and customized to YOU, just like a home.

•   1000s OF NEW TIPS + TRICKS – We’ve published thousands of simple tips for the home, with a major focus on cleaning tricks everyone can use for spring cleaning.

BrightNest app3

Plus, all the usefulness of the BrightNest site:

•   SAVE YOUR FAVORITE DIYs – Save your favorite projects and reference the materials list when you’re shopping for supplies

•   HELP WITH HOME GOALS – Want a greener home? Trying to save money for that back deck? The app provides content based on the goals you select and the unique features of your home.

BrightNest app1

Go here to download the NEW BrightNest App!



Fall Cleaning Quick Tip

Have you started you Fall Cleaning?  If you haven’t this is a great tip to get you started and it’s perfect for all those fall porch decorations.  I used to get out the hose and spray down the porches to clean them, but as the weather gets colder that’s a little more difficult to do.  This year I didn’t get around to using the hose, but my hubby took matters into his own hands and used our leaf blower.  And what do you know?

Use a Leaf Blower to Clean Up Your Porches and Patios via Clean Mama

That was the perfect solution and I don’t think I’ll use the hose in the fall anymore.  Is this revolutionary?  Probably not.  But hopefully it’ll help you get a handle on your fall cleaning too or at least cross “porch + patio clean-up” off your Fall Cleaning Checklist!

If you haven’t grabbed the Fall Cleaning Checklist, go to this post to snag your copy!

Fall Cleaning Checklist via Clean Mama

How about you?  Any fabulous fall cleaning tips to share?


This is my find another way to find me post…..

So you’ve probably heard that Google Reader is going away on July 1st…..  if you follow Clean Mama that way, please find another way to follow me.  I’ve made it easy and put the Bloglovin’ and Feedly buttons right by the email subscription box on the sidebar.  It looks like this:

Follow Clean MamaSo choose one of these or just hop over whenever.  Thanks for following along and have a happy Saturday!

planner coupon code


Glassware Quick Tip

I have a small cabinet in the kitchen that houses a few special glassware pieces.  Even though it has doors on it, there was a thin layer of dust on all the pieces.  (How does that happen?)  During my spring cleaning frenzy I emptied it out and wiped down the shelves.  I was going to bring the glassware to the sink to wash all the pieces when it hit me – these are mostly for decoration.  When we do take something down to use we wash it first.

Is there an easier way that I could be cleaning these pieces?  As you can most likely tell from the picture I grabbed a microfiber cloth and I misted it with a teeny, tiny bit of plain water.  I wiped the inside and outside of the glasses and what do you know?  Perfectly dust-free, shiny and ready to go back in the cabinet.  Obviously I wouldn’t recommend washing dishes or glasses like this before use, but for decoration it’s a perfect cleaning solution!


Check out the other cleaning bloggers and what they’re spring cleaning this week!

Monday: iDreamofClean

Tuesday: A Real-Life Housewife

Wednesday: Clean Mama

Thursday: Clean and Scentsible

Friday: Ask Anna

And don’t forget to enter the amazing giveaway at the bottom of the posts!




Give Me 5

Am I the only one asking for just five more minutes all the time?  Next time you actually have 5 or 10 or 30 minutes, I have a great printable for you designed to take the guess work out of what to organize next.
Here’s a sneak peek of the printable….

Quick Tip – No More Sliding Silverware Trays

It’s probably just me, but isn’t it annoying when you open a silverware or kitchen tool drawer and the tray slides back and forth and front to back?  I know you can put down a drawer liner that will help this problem, but I wanted something a little more stable.  So after some thought, I decided to try I these 3M picture hanging strips.  (I love them for hanging pictures, so I thought I’d give them a whirl this way.)
Guess what?  They work beautifully!  I put one tab at the back of the drawer, and one on each front side.  I removed the adhesive tab and carefully placed the tray in the drawer.
So there you have it – a quick and inexpensive solution to a common kitchen dilemma.

Fun Find – Post-It Labels

I picked these Post-It labels up at my local Target store – aren’t they cute?  They’re peel and stick and stay on what you put them on until you take them off.
I’ve been using them in the kitchen to label food items, but I’m also going to use them to label some clothing bins for the kids.
I love to label things, but am trying to only label things that I can’t tell what’s inside at first glance.  These might change my labeling rules.
3M/Post-It has no idea that I wrote this or who I am – it’s just a fun find I wanted to share with you.

Sink Etiquette

Washing a lot of dishes or rinsing dishes for the dishwasher?  Try this quick tip – put your silverware in a colander for easy rinsing or washing.  No silverware caught in the garbage disposal or down the drain and you won’t need to fish out a knife from the bottom of your sink.
This would probably fall under the ‘Ultra-Organized Clean Freak’ category of homekeeping styles – I’d love it if you checked out my post on Life…Your Way.  What homekeeping style do you have?

Quick Tip – Slow Watering Your Plants

I love this trick – maybe you do this already and I was just under a rock for the last decade.  I saw this on a florist card and have been tending to my houseplants this way for a few months and am loving it!  This works especially well in pots that don’t have built in drainage.
Do you see the ice cubes in the planter?
Put a few ice cubes in your houseplants for the weekly watering – no spilling, no leaking out the bottom, and your littles can even do it for you!

ask Clean Mama

I received this Facebook question yesterday from Amy:

Question for Clean Mama…when we come home from after being gone for awhile, my house smells “musty”. I smell the same smell coming out of the ac vents. We have lived here for 8 months, and I have never smelled this before. I thought maybe since it is so hot out, and the ac is running, that there may be moisture in the vent system? It is driving me crazy. I put a dryer sheet in one of the vents to see if it would be any better, but it doesn’t really help. I know that is just masking the smell anyway. Have you heard of anything like this before? Thanks!
Here’s my answer (disclaimer: Please realize that I am not an expert, I just play one on this blog):
I’m guessing it’s moisture somewhere – do you use a dehumidifier? Or if you have a crawl space that’s damp from a lot of rain, it could be travelling through from your basement/crawlspace into your vents if your furnace is in the same general vicinity. I’d start with a dehumidifier and see if that helps with the musty smell. Hope this helps!
It got me thinking that maybe it’d be fun to have a little Q and A here on the blog.  Sound like fun?
Here are the oh-so-simple rules:
1. Leave a cleaning, organizing, or meal planning question in the comments section of this post.   Depending on how many questions I receive, I’ll answer the questions in future posts over the next day, week, weeks, or month.
2. If you have a blog, leave the blog address with  your comment so I can link your blog in the post that features your question.
3. When I post my answer to your questions, you will have an opportunity to help others with their questions as well.
So leave your question and if you have a suggestion for Amy, you can leave that as well.  I can’t wait to hear from you!

Lid Redo

It’s free, it contains a potential mess….what is it?

A lid.

Use them under drippy containers – like this one.

Any other lid ideas?
I’m thinking olive and vegetable oil, syrups…..

Herb Garden

Last year I veered from my tradition of planting herbs in containers.  I had a little extra space in my side yard garden and had run out of dirt, so I just plopped the little plants in the garden.  It turned out to be a happy little solution, because not only did the herbs grow beautifully in that garden, but they returned this summer.  I know that it has to do with the fact that we live in zone 5 in the hardiness planting zone, so even though everything freezes, it isn’t as hard of a freeze as other areas in the United States.  (Not sure what zone you live in?  Check out this link to the National Gardening Association.)
So what came back?  Chives (they’ll come back in zones 3 and 4 too), Sage, Oregano, and Thyme. Basil isn’t hardy enough to come back, but I planted Rosemary, Mint and Stevia this summer with hopes of them returning next year as well.  Having herbs in with the rest of the plants adds interest to the garden and provides a little ground cover as well.
What are your must-plant herbs?

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