Tips on how to clean moldy F&P washer (PICS attached)

mrmichaeljmooreOctober 9, 2009

Well, with assistance from the always helpful Dadoes, I took apart my musty smelling F&P GWL11 washer tonight.....

WOW. Wow. Wow.....and gross.

Well, I found the cause of the musty smelling clothes (especially towels).

Now, I really have to clean this thing.

I figured to clean the the washing tub, I will bring it into the bath tub and wash it with a solution of Dawn and bleach and hot water....and scrub the heck out of it....sound good for that?

But what is the best way to clean the inside of the washer? Am I gonna have to Shop Vac out the water as I clean it? Or is there a way to use the drain function of the washer to suck out the water as I clean it?

Or should I drag the thing out side tomorrow and wash it with a hose and Dawn/bleach solution?

Any tips on getting this thing back to tip top shape would be great.

A few things about our washing habits:

1. This washer is about 4 years old.

2. Our water is well water. I have a sediment filter and carbon filter and water softener on the system. Water quality should be good.

3. We DO NOT use softener.

4. We wash primarily in cold water. Occasionally we wash in warm or hot.

5. We use liquid detergent

To be honest, I am disappointed with this situation. We wash our clothes in cold because it is the "green" thing to do they say (even though I am not a green fanatic, I try to do my part). We are not heavy users; just me, my wife, and my toddler daughter. Shouldn't the machine drain itself to prevent this mold buildup? Is this a design flaw or are other top-loading machines susceptible to this situation?

Thanks for the help....


Here are the pics:

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I'm wondering if using the hottest water you can handle with DISHwasher detergent to really get it clean would be a good idea. My father in law is a retired repair man and he swears by this to clean a washing machine. Hope you're able to do it all without too much trouble, the shop vac sounds like a good idea, but don't forget to clean it thoroughly after too. Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 8:21PM
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There doesn't appear to be any significant mineral deposits (witness your water softener), so any sort of detergent/bleach solution should suffice for cleaning the mold accumulation. You'll need a toothbrush or other small brush to clean in the pump sump and around the drive shaft seal (be gentle there). The outlet cap removes via the single screw. Don't use a wire brush, steel wool or anything aggressive that would scratch the plastic tub.

The small opening at about 11:30 position in your 1st & 2nd pics is the water level pressure chamber. Can't tell from the picture if there may be some significant build-up in there. There's a removable plug at bottom of the chamber outside the tub, but I'd suggest not doing that unless it's really necessary.

I provided instruction in my reply to your original thread on how to run the pump in Diagnostic Mode to drain the water while cleaning the tub.
Diagnostic Pump

Your main cause likely is the cold-water washing and liquid detergent diet. Now of course, I assume you know that the EcoSmart by default runs a cold agitated wash on all cycles (except Perm Press). If you set warm or hot then the EcoActive wash phase is not cold, so the tub gets showered with heated detergent solution then, which should help keep sludge from accumulating.

When you've gotten the machine cleaned up:

1) Cut out the exclusive liquid detergent diet. Either use only powders ... or if you do want to use some liquids, make it a diet of powders more often than liquids.

2) Run WARM washes as a matter of normal course. Very few items of clothing can't take warm water, but of course use cold when required for the fabric/item. Run an occasional HOT wash on loads that can handle it (white cottons, kitchen towels, etc.) Remember, the EcoSmart will run warm (or hot) water only for the initial EcoActive wash period, so there's really no particular concern on the "green" issue. Also, disregarding the greenness, it's a good idea to run a warm Perm Press cycle occasionally. Perm Press skips EcoActive and runs a warm agitated wash.

3) Perhaps you aren't aware that EcoSmart has a special programmable cycle for cleaning the machine of residue. It got too bad for that to take care of the problem in this case. The cleaning cycle is intended more as a preventive measure or to deal with a light accumulation. Check your instruction manual on how to program it. If you insist on washing primarily in cold water, then I'd suggest running the cleaning cycle every three weeks. Depending on how much washing your family does and what kind of clothing soil is involved, maybe monthly would be sufficient. However, if you follow my suggestions above, you may not need to use the cleaning cycle at all.

My IWL12 is about a year older than your GWL11, although it hasn't been used for the past year while I've been playing with other machines. I disassembled it recently to clean it up. My well water runs about 11 grains hardness and I don't have a water softener, so there was some mineral deposit accumulation. There were 'stripes' of mineral deposit around the tub like you have the mold. I had no mold in the sump area, just a small part of one of the mineral stripes around the tub had some black residue on it. I DO use softener, and I'd run the cleaning cycle on my IWL12 maybe once at most. :-)

    Bookmark   October 10, 2009 at 12:43AM
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Dadoes --

Thanks for the info.
Got the inner basket clean. Bleach/Dawn solution worked well. lots of gunk came off.

Quick question before I go start cleaning the washer.....

when I was cleaning the inner basket, I could hear water sloshing around, as if it was trapped somewhere in the inner tub. no matter which way i lifted the thing, it wouldnt drain out this trapped water...

what's the story with that?

thanks...and i'll let you know how the rest of the cleaning goes...


    Bookmark   October 10, 2009 at 11:01AM
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The inner basket has sealed balance rings at both the top and bottom each about half-filled with water. Nothing wrong there.

If it doesn't slosh, then that would be a problem.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2009 at 11:16AM
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Gotcha.....didnt know it had water sealed in the rings.
interesting. very cool.

well...i cleaned the inner plastic tub. took off the pump cover and cleaned that too.
just have to clean the agitator and the tub ring.
looks much better.

Now, that I've got this thing apart....
anything else I should do, whether maintenance or cleaning?

One thing I did notice was the inside walls of the washer cabinet have streaks going down them....I assume it is from water splashing out of the tub and down the walls during wash cycles.
Is it worth it to take out the plastic tub and clean down the inside walls?

I was thinking of running a cleaning cycle using powdered dishwasher detergent to get to any other internal parts I can't clean....Are there any internal parts (ie pipes, hoses or similar) that could have mold/crud build-up in them?

thanks again.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2009 at 12:03PM
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This small "plasticy" ring came out when I cleaned the hole where the drive shaft goes on the inner basket. I just used my finger to get out the grime.

I's not an o-ring..... definitely not rubber.

Hopefully I didnt ruin something...


    Bookmark   October 10, 2009 at 12:41PM
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The other parts that have contact with water are the diverter valve, recirculation tube coming up the side of the tub, and the pump impeller. And the drain hose, but that's not of particular concern. The pump comes off very easily, and might should be checked anyway for evidence of leaking. The diverter has three hoses attached, but it and the recirculation hose should come off easy-enough. Running a dishwasher-cycle as you suggested would perhaps help.

Yes, there can be bits of splashing at medium/high and high water levels during agitation. Pulling the inner tub requires further disassembly. It'd be best not to do that, try to wipe-down the cabinet interior just by reaching down inside.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2009 at 12:55PM
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There's no seal or ring on the basket hub, that's probably debris of some ilk. :-) You can pull off the top hub via the three screws, clean it and the drive coupler. The coupler is supposed to be loose inside the hub, to allow for the basket to "float."

    Bookmark   October 10, 2009 at 1:01PM
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Well....I am done cleaning.
Cleaned the inner basket, the tub, tub ring, pump sump, sump cover, inside walls, agitator, basket hub & coupler.

Not gonna mess with taking off any of the hoses you mentioned or the pump at this time. I have moved along in this project with no hiccups so far, I don't want to press my luck.
Hopefully all of the cleaning does the trick.

You mentioned pump leaks? I assume I will notice water on the floor if it leaks at some point?

Here are a couple of pics of the cleaned washer parts before reassembly.

I am gonna run a clean cycle with the powdered dishwasher detergent.....How much powder should I use? Does it go down the agitator like liquid detergent does?


    Bookmark   October 10, 2009 at 2:27PM
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This is what I'd do for the cleaning with dishwasher detergent:

Start on either Regular or Heavy cycle. HOT water. Reason is so there's an EcoActive wash period with recirculation through the hose. Use at minimum a full measured cup of dishwasher detergent. POWDER, not gel/liquid (powder is best for your dishwasher, too!). Make sure it has enzymes to work on the smutz (check the package label). When EcoActive is over and fill starts for the agitated wash, immediately turn off the Power, restart it on the programmed cleaning cycle to get a hot agitated wash. Agitate a few mins, then turn off the power again and let it soak a while. Restart the cleaning cycle again, run to completion. Or, set the Soak option instead of doing a manual soak.

Water on the floor from a pump leak depends on how much leaking happens. A very slow dribble may not be noticeable, but can get the pump's motor windings wet repeatedly over time, resulting in slow deterioration. Water-damaged pump windings can throw it to high electrical resistance and kill the controller board, which turns a ~$70 pump replacement into a $250+ repair including a control board. That is not to say a pump leak/damage is sure to happen, but just to be aware of what can happen. My GWL08 still has the original pump at 10 years old, and it was standing in 14" of water for 12 hours during a flash flood in November 2004.

Detergent, whether liquid or powder, regular washing or machine cleaning cycle, does not *have* to be placed into the agitator. That's just F&P suggestion so the detergent goes into the tub under the basket and mixes with the water as the machine fills, gets picked up by the EcoActive recirculation, helps lessen the potential for detergent burn on sensitive fabric dyes.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2009 at 4:30PM
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well, it's been a couple weeks since the cleaning and our laundry is (especially bath towels) is significantly cleaner and fresher.

Towels used to smell musty and moldy, but since the cleaning they smell fresh and are softer.

As suggested, I think we are gonna switch to powdered detergent and see if that helps. We are gonna try a few different brands to find one we like, I guess. Plus, we use Liquid Tide for Cold water when we run a cold wash.

Thanks again for the help, Dadoes.....

    Bookmark   October 29, 2009 at 11:22AM
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Well, I decided to do a check-up on the washer mold issue today.
Looks like there is some buildup/gunk/lint there.....

Is it a normal amount? Or should this area be completely clean and clear?

I spoke with my wife.....She said that since I did the major cleaning on October 10....
She has been using cold water for clothes, with Tide for Cold Water detergent.
She has been using Hot for sheets and towels, using a regular liquid detergent.

Here are the pics:

    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 2:29PM
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That does look bad to me to have accumulated already since your cleaning. Is the Tide Coldwater liquid or powder?

What're the details on your water supply? City services or private well? High mineral content? Household softener?

Try cutting out liquid detergents completely for a month, 6 weeks or so, see if the residue clears up or continues to accumulate. Tide Coldwater can be used in warm and hot.

Instead of going to the extreme of either only hot or cold, try using warm on "clothes" that don't specifically need cold, and perhaps wash them on the Perm Press cycle so you have a full warm fill with an agitated rinse.

If there is hard water / mineral content involved, I'd make a suggestion to get some STPP (sodium tripolyphosphate) from Use it on a ratio of 1 part STPP to 3 parts detergent for however much detergent is your usual dose.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 4:29PM
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I am on well water.
I have a sediment filter, water softener, and carbon filter (in that order).
So hardness should be at zero.

The Tide Coldwater is liquid.

I will pick up some powder tomorrow.
Do you suggest any particular brand of detergent that works well with the F&P?


    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 5:39PM
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Is the residue slimy/moldy, or a particulate? Perhaps it's a reaction between your softened/treated water and your usual choice of detergent, possibly the liquids.

Aiming for something low-sudsing to deal with potential oversudsing during EcoActive ...

Any HE powder, although they are getting difficult to find in some areas. Tide & Gain seems most prevalent.

Fab powder tends toward low sudsing ... but is a bit difficult to dissolve so probably isn't a good choice for cold water.

Fresh Start powder, if you can find it. It's available online by the case (6 bottles) at

Foca (a Mexican detergent), but the "dosage line" is tight to avoid oversudsing. I can't use more than 2.5 to 3 oz. (measured with a 1 oz. powdered drink mix scoop) for an average-soil load or I have a suds cake up to the lid during EcoActive, and my water is ~11 grains hardness. I add up to 3 oz. more after EcoActive depending on the load conditions.

I've heard that Cheer BriteClean, or some such Cheer formula, is low sudsing, but haven't yet tried it.

Also consider Sears Ultra Plus. I've heard raves about it.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 8:14PM
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I would say the residue is more slimy than particulate....
it definitely leaves a slimy film on the tub.

I will try out the powders and report back.


    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 9:06PM
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This is kinda ironic. I just went to our local Aldi's today to get some Dishwashing detergent (Reeva Liquid) with bleach in it to clean out my machine.

Speaking of which, the Cheer bright clean powder is low sudsing. I did a suds test on it and it suds no more than the Sears HE powder did when I had checked it a year ago. (I posted about this in another thread too, so if you already read that one, sorry for the repeat.)

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 8:40PM
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The last cleaning was on Nov 29, 09.

I took apart the washer today (1/3/2010) to see if there was any mold buildup.

Pics below of what I found.
Not too bad.....getting better.

We started using powdered detergent exclusively around December 14 2009. We are using the Sears Advanced Formula Ultra Plus powdered detergent.
Prior to that, we were using Tide for Cold Water liquid.

My wife says she is washing our colored/dark clothes in all cold Regular cycle. Whites, towels and sheets in hot Regular cycle. All with Sears Advanced Formula Ultra Plus powdered detergent poured down the agitator.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 3:50PM
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My Theory:

I think the mold problem on the Fisher Paykel washing machines is due to pouring liquid detergent down the center of the agitator before turning on the machine and filling it with water. The liquid soap goes right to the bottom of the tub basin and stays there causing mildew to form. Either wait for the water to partially fill the tub or do not pour the detergent down there at all.
After years of clothes getting stained from scud, I took my machine apart to find the worst smelling crud water and slime at the bottom of the washing machine tub. I then came to the conclusion that soap is laying there causing this crud, and pouring it down the center of the agitator is possibly causing this problem.
I hope this possible solution helps other people with this problem.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 8:48AM
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Good luck with this, there are plenty of good suggestions here. When I had mold in a machine, I tried everything but did not take the basket out of the tub to clean it, that was just too much work on that machine. Nothing fixed the problem until, and I sort of did it the lazy-man's way, I took the machine out of service for about a year with the lid open and let the mold colony die. Then I did a super hot wash with Afresh and it has never come back. Always use powder detergents, go easy on any fabric softener although I use the Purex crystals and don't think they hurt anything. Do some hot or really warm washes along the way. Always leave the washer door open. That's all I can think of at the moment. I had a Fisher Paykel machine and really loved that machine for a top-loader. All my current machines are old top-loader Maytags and one Staber, plus a couple of wringer washers.
Too, you can pick-up a back-up machine for cheap on Craigslist, I got my two Maytags for $35 and $50 and both work with no issues, I'm probably lucky on that score.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 6:46PM
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