Maybe you opened your washer to put your clothes in the dryer and discovered that suds still covered your duds. Perhaps the pesky thing wouldn’t start when you pushed the button and the breaker box says you have power aplenty. Either way, you have a broken appliance and a problem.
Clean clothes are among life’s necessities. Poor hygiene affects your physical and mental health — people might stay away if you start smelling too ripe. Here’s what to do if your washing machine breaks.
1. Find a Laundromat
Fortunately, you won’t have too much trouble finding a temporary replacement for your washing machine in the form of a laundromat. These shops line nearly every other city block, although you might have to drive a bit if you live in the suburbs or a rural area.
The best part? If you have a bit of extra green, you can order full service where they tackle the drying and folding for you. You can even have them pick up your dirty wash at your house — although you could quickly grow spoiled with this luxury.
However, you might find it easier on your wallet to use a coin or card laundromat. Coin-only represents the traditional model, but you might save more green at a card or hybrid establishment. You can earn rewards and discounts on your card based on your use.
Dry cleaners offer yet another option. They’re much more efficient at removing certain stains like grease that ordinary soap and water won’t touch. If your clothes contain splatter from a deep fat fryer or you need to launder mechanic’s overalls, you might want to opt for this route.
2. Locate Your Warranty Paperwork
If you’re among the nearly seven in ten Americans living paycheck to paycheck, needing a major repair can spell financial disaster. You could be looking at months without your appliance.
However, you might have a failsafe. Hopefully, you saved the original paperwork and any about an extended warranty if you purchased one. If so, immediately contact the number indicated in the pamphlet and follow the instructions — you may be eligible for a free replacement.
Will your homeowner’s insurance policy cover a broken appliance? Only if the damage occurred as part of a disaster impacting the whole structure, like a fire, flood or theft.
However, you might be in luck if you purchased a home warranty that covers this device. Coverage varies by policy, with some companies requiring additional riders for appliances while others include them in the package. Find your paperwork and call the number provided to determine your options.
What if you rent? If so, your broken appliance is your landlord’s headache, not yours. You should let them know about any necessary repairs as soon as possible so that they can maintain your property. Of course, only you can judge your relationship and the current rental market understandably makes many tenants leery of ruffling feathers.
3. Decide If Repairing or Replacement Is Best
If you have a warranty, your company will determine whether repairing or replacing your appliance is the least expensive option. You’re on your own if you lack such coverage.
How can you determine whether you should repair or replace your washing machine? There are a few tests you can apply. Consumer Reports recommends replacing any appliances older than eight years unless they are high-end or have sentimental value.
Another method entails getting a repair estimate. If fixing your washer exceeds 50% of the cost it would take to replace it, you’re probably better off buying new. Otherwise, you could spend a fortune to have one part replaced now only to have another one go kablooey next month.
4. Think Twice About Rent-to-Own
If you’re among those living paycheck-to-paycheck with hardly any pennies to spare, you might be enticed by rent-to-own establishments offering low weekly payments of $25 or so. It’s simple to fall into the trap of thinking, “Well, if I give up two or three lattes a week, I can afford it.” However, you end up paying much more in the long run.
Many of these locations charge exorbitant interest rates, much higher than you’d pay on many credit cards. Why so high? They often take risks on people with little to no credit and have to cover any losses arising from damaged goods they can’t repossess and resell. It’s not unusual for such places to charge 100% or more in interest — that’s a lot of green that should remain in your pocket.
5. Go the Old-Fashioned Route
Psst. Guess what? People did laundry long before people invented electricity. Even prehistoric humans probably cleaned their clothes.
You can hand-wash your clothes in the sink or bathtub — the larger vessel is best for hefty loads. You should still read the label, determining what type of fabric you’re dealing with, although even delicates usually do fine using this method.
Do you need a washboard? Not necessarily. However, you might have luck picking one up at an antique shop — if nothing else, it can make an interesting addition to your decor.
In a pinch, there’s always that trusty bottle of Febreeze. While it’s not recommended for use as a laundry replacement, it can get the sandwich shop funk out of your shirt long enough for you to get dressed and run your kid to soccer practice.
What to Do If Your Washing Machine Breaks
A broken appliance is a significant headache. You need clean laundry. What can you do if your washing machine breaks?
Survive this hiccup by following the steps above for what to do when your washing machine breaks. You can still enjoy fresh, clean clothes while you await your replacement.