I’m big on to-do lists. There is something incredibly satisfying about crossing off a task once it’s completed. To cut down on waste, I started keeping my list on my phone. It got the job done, but it didn’t give me the satisfaction I used to get from crossing off a paper list. Then a friend introduced me to an app (Any.DO) that allowed me to create lists and cross off tasks as I go. I began typing up tasks I knew I would do anyway just so I could cross them off: go grocery shopping, unload the dishwasher, do laundry.

It was then that I realized it takes me way too long to do laundry. Each load took two cycles to fully dry. I decided to look into probable causes. It turned out there were many things I could do to help alleviate the problem. Now I have a new checklist for washer and dryer maintenance.

• Check and clean the lint trap before and after every load. Better yet, with the lint trap pulled out, use your vacuum attachment to suck up any stray lint not caught by the trap.


• Clean the dryer vent. There are several local companies that offer professional dryer duct cleaning, but it is also possible to do yourself. Make sure your dryer is unplugged before you start.

• While you are at it, check the vent hose. Can it be shortened? The shorter the hose, the more efficient your dryer will be. The hose exhausts moist air from your wash, and the longer the distance the air has to travel, the longer it will take for your items to dry.

• Leave the washing-machine door open. These machines were made to hold in water. If the door is closed between cycles, the machine will maintain the moisture from the previous wash and create a desirable environment for mold growth. This is especially true for front loaders.

• Clean the washing-machine tub. Set it for the largest and dirtiest load you can, and use hot water. Add a quart of vinegar and a cup of baking soda while it fills. Let it mix up then open the top and leave it for one hour. Finish the cycle then run a cold one with a quart of vinegar to clean up any debris left behind. Do this every two to three months. For front loaders, run one large, hot cycle with 2 cups of vinegar, immediately followed by another with 2 cups of bleach.