Earlier this week, I snuck in some ocean time before picking my daughter up from school. The water felt amazing. As I drip-dried on my towel, I decided to check the time. I glanced at the clock on my phone and, before I could zip up my bag, the king tides hit. The tide rolled over my only towel and into my half-open bag. Not only was everything completely soaked, but everything was completely sandy as well.

Fortunately, I had been in a similar situation before. And while my past experience did nothing to help me dry off or clean up for school pickup, it did teach me what I needed to do in order to avoid a sandy mess at home as well. I once washed and dried sandy beach gear without removing the sand first. Subsequent loads held onto the remnant sand, and running the wash again did not seem to help. Luckily, after doing some internet searching along with trial and error, I was able to figure out how to remove the errant sand:

Plan ahead


When the tide hits or you get sandy some other way, remove as much as you can before throwing your gear in the wash. Hose off your belongings when you get home. Place them on a hard surface (not the lawn) to avoid other debris, like grass or mud, sticking to the gear as well. Dry your items in the sun by hanging them up, and shake off excess sand before washing.

Suck it out

If the damage has been done, then you will need to do a thorough cleaning of your washer. Using your vacuum’s hose attachment with a soft bristle brush, suck out any sand you can see. Make sure to get the main basin and underneath the gasket, too.

Wipe it down

Use vinegar or another all-purpose cleaning solution and a rag to wipe the washer in especially hard-to-reach places. Lift the gasket, and wipe thoroughly underneath. Check and clean areas where sand might hide, like in dispensers and even on the machine’s hinges to help avoid rust.

Check it out


If the problem is really bad, you may have sand clogging the lines going in and out of your machine. Check manufacturer instructions for cleaning the sediment filter screens on the drain line and the hot and cold water supply lines.

Run it

Your washing machine likely has a cleaning cycle. Follow manufacturer instructions and run it at least one to two times. Typically, cleaning your machine involves using manufacturer-approved cleaning solution and hot water.

Have a comment or question for Joanne? Email thefi xisinhawaii@gmail.com.