Miele washer and musty clothing

suseybApril 16, 2012

We have had our Miele 4840 washer for a little over a year. I wash wih liquid detergent . The one I use is called Planet. I have 6 kids and use cloth diapers, so I do a lot if laundry. I try to keep the door open when not in use but it doesn't always happen. The rubber boot is cleaned often and doesn't appear to have mold. I empty the lint trap at the bottom when the clothes start to smell. I am unable to reach all the way into this and know that there is gunk in there I am not getting. I wash in hot every couple if days because of the diapers. I don't use bleach or fabric softener. My husband is very unhappy that this Ferrari of washers is. it getting his clothes clean. I have started to wash smaller loads in an attempt to get the smell out. I smell the wet laundry before I put it in the dryer and it all seems to smell clean, but after being in the dryer it is not as fresh. After a couple of days, the smell is such that the clothes must be rewashed. This is causing me a lot of extra work and time when I don't have a lot if spare time to begin with.

Thank you for any suggestions you can provide. I plan to call Miele, too.

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Run "Clean" cycle or a "Sanitize" cycle (with HOT water) and a few cups of bleach.
Even if you don't bleach your whites, use it to clean out the washer. It's the only thing to kill mold.
The hot water will help remove/loosen the scum build up from the outer tub.
Air dry, with door open.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 8:33AM
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Switch to using POWDER detergent. Tide or Persil. Wash in the warmest water your fabrics will allow. And as Georgect says....run a Clean Machine cycle with liquid chloring bleach or a Tide Clean Machine packet. I have been using a Miele washer for almost 15 years, and have never had this problem

Also, check your soap tray area. I remove mine when the machine is not in use, wipe the entire area, and let dry. This allows the machine to breath, in addition with the door ALWAYS being left ajar when not in use!!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 10:06AM
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I have it running with the bleach.

We cannot use Tide or Persil because of allergies/sensitivities in our household. The only thing that works are detergents that have no scents, etc. Do you have any other recommendations? I can switch to Planet powder, I think. Or maybe I can buy some of the Charlies, though I am not sure I want to mess with the Charlie's. We have pretty hard water.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 1:31PM
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Persil Sensitive Megaperls powder. Even though it has a light, natural aloe based scent...this detergent is endorsed by the National German Foundation for allergies and asthma, in addition to several other European based allergy agencies. You will not be bothered by this detergent...it is great!!!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 2:10PM
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@suseyb - in spite of Persil "Sensitive" being so wonderful, it has perfume and makes both me and my DH itch. I gave it to my daughter-in-law so that it wouldn't go to waste.

Most of the hypoallergenic HE detergents are liquids, unfortunately. Very frustrating. BioKleen is fairly hypoallergenic and comes in powder, but I think it gave my DH a rash. Might be the zeolites... I really don't know. I'm paying attention to which clothes are washed with it, to make sure BioKleen was the culprit.

It seems strange (to me) that the clothes smell fine when they come out of the washer, and musty after the dryer.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 4:53PM
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Seventh Generation powder comes in free & clear and is rated to clean very well. I ordered mine on line so not sure where you can buy it.

I would also run a sanitary (clean machine) cycle with a citric based cleaner. This helps remove any gunky build up. Bleach will not remove any bio film build up (if you have it) it will just kill bacteria. You need to clean out any film or bacteria will continue to grow (as will mold).

I use Smelly Washer but you can find others like Lemi Shine.

If you are not already doing so, you should consider adding oxygen bleach to your routine. Use it for whites. This also helps keep your machine clean.

The one down fall of green detergents is some of them lack ingredients to maintain your machine in optimal condition.

I would also be concerned if your Planet detergent contains anything to protect your machine's heater from hard water damage.

When you spend that kind of money on a machine you definitely want to use what will care for it best (and of course be friendly to whatever skin issues your family has).

I have a W4842 for over a year and no issues here. I am using the Miele Care detergents and sometimes Seventh Generation.

FWIW, Miele also makes a sensitive powder and it smells lighter than the Persil.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 5:53PM
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I'm suspecting an overriding water quality problem. What can you tell us about your water? Do you know what's in it? You said "hard" but do you know how hard? Are you on well or city water?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 6:05PM
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Livebetter, the citric based cleaner is a good idea. I often use Bac-Out in my laundry, but since I'm having this problem, it's obviously not doing such a great job.

I don't generally use detergent with oxygen bleach, since I don't want it to ruin my cloth diapers, but I can pick some up. I know that some are more eco friendly than others.

How would I know if the Planet had anything in it to protect the machine's heater?

Asolo - I don't know a lot about the water. When we moved in here almost two years ago, I was using my GE washer. The home flooded less than 6 months afterwards, and we've only been in the house about a year. We got into it sooner than we should have, so there are many things still undone. Who needs baseboards everywhere in the house? Or the kitchen cabinets stained all the same color? ;) The water is city water. We do not have a softener. I do have a solar water heater. The water quality report from the city from 2010 is available to me. What information from it do I look at? I'm not sure how to read all of the information on it. Or, do I need to purchase a water quality kit of some sort?

Thank you for the help.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 7:42PM
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I was thinking about your problem as I was doing my own laundry tonight. My kids' dirty school clothes ... ick.

Keep in mind also that these machines use a very little bit of water to wash. If your load is extra soiled I highly recommend you use a prewash. I often do this with my kids' clothes - Heaven knows what's on them from school most of the time.

The other thing is to make sure you are using enough detergent (and not TOO much detergent). Dosing is very important. The surfactants will suspend the soil in the water and rinse them away but if you use too little or too much it will hinder that performance and soil may be redepositing on your items - therefore causing them not to smell fresh.

Eco detergents are tricky. I used them exclusively for several years but I only use them sometimes now. I'm very happy with the Miele Care products and I have no issues with items smelling dirty after washing (but I know exactly what you mean - I've smelled that smell before).

It may take a little trial and error on your part.

As for oxygen bleach - it is natural. Buy the sodium percarbonate not OxyClean. I even saw Seventh Generation has one now at Target (last time I was in Buffalo, NY). I buy a pure form of oxygen bleach from Soapworks but Ecover sells one too. I can't see how it would ruin your diapers. If anything, I would think it would help them.

I pulled this info for you, "What is oxygenated bleach? Oxygenated bleach is a disinfectant- but it is non toxic and environmentally safe, which makes it a wonderful choice for cloth diapers. It is more gentle on skin and fabric than chlorine bleach- and it is color safe. It is a virus-and-bacteria busting combination of products which ultimately release oxygen to break up stains and/or deodorize them."

This is why ongoing use of it helps keep your machine pristine too. I use it all the time (on whites and on light colored items that need an extra boost).

Some detergents (like SG) will have it already added. I believe BioKleen will too. I use the Miele Color Care that does not have it added (so it's better for dark colors) and when needed I add it myself.

Yikes ... I was trying to source the ingredients in the Planet detergent for you and came upon this info on their website. Looks like you may be using the wrong detergent.

Why is Ultra Liquid Laundry not recommended for front-loading washing machines?

Planet Ultra Liquid Laundry is not generally recommended for use in front-loading washers because the detergent is typically quite sudsy. The suds themselves present no harm to your washer, however over-sudsing greatly affects the cleaning action in your washer. Too much sudsing in a front-loading washer acts as a cushion, limiting the ability of your clothes to tumble and drop as they should. With little or no suds, your clothes can move freely within your washer, as they should, resulting in far better cleaning performance.

So although we don't usually recommend that you use our Ultra Liquid Laundry detergent in your front-loading washer, you can still do so if wish. You will just have to experiment a bit in order to find an optimum amount of detergent that will produce an acceptable amount of sudsing. The basic rule of thumb is to measure only half of what you would normally use for a regular top-loading washer (2oz. instead of 4oz.) and then adjust up or down depending on your wash conditions. For example, a small, lightly soiled load washed in warm, soft water would require less detergent (as little as 1oz.). Whereas an extra large, heavily soiled load washed in cold, hard water would require more detergent (3oz. or more, but maximum 4oz.). If you have to use less than 1oz. of detergent to control over-sudsing, you may notice a reduction in cleaning effectiveness.

If you have a see-through glass window on the washer, it will be easy to see if you are getting too much sudsing or not and you can adjust the amount of detergent that you use accordingly. Some washers have indicators that tell you if there is too much sudsing. If you can't physically observe the amount of sudsing that is occurring in your wash, you may be able to tell by other factors such as poor cleaning results or a sudsy/soapy feeling in your clothes even after rinsing.

Planet does make a powdered laundry detergent, which is ideal for front-loading washers because it is low-sudsing. In measuring out an appropriate amount of detergent, the same rules apply as discussed above with our Ultra Liquid Laundry -- use only half of what you would normally use for a regular top-loading washer and adjust from there depending on your specific wash conditions. However unlike our liquid detergent, it is not as critical to observe the amount of sudsing because there is little chance of over-sudsing with our powdered laundry.


I would stop using this liquid right away.

Here is a link that might be useful: Oxygenated Bleach - Bummis Blog

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 9:50PM
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If you're on city water, I'm not concerned about anything but hardness.....usually expressed in "grains". You can buy cheap test kits at any hardware store. Would be good to know that number.

However, unless you're dealing the iron and sulphur -- which you won't be with city water -- degree of hardness is the only remaining culprit. And people have been washing successfully in hard water for a loooong time. Soft water would be better, but I don't think that's your nut.

So....I'm now back with everybody else suggesting 1) Clean the machine out (do it twice; do it hot; use chlorine bleach) and start over with....2) different detergent, probably a powder.

BTW....how much detergent have you been using per-load?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 11:59PM
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You could also increase the amount of rinse water in your Miele via a service menu setting. I do have the service manual but can't find it now - I'm sure Lars can walk you through it.

Here is a link that might be useful: High Rinse Water Level

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 7:08AM
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Great idea Whirlpool trainee! Yes, I can walk them thru it, if they want to. I actually did this 2 days ago, for my BFF. I've been hounding and hounding for years to get rid of their archaic top loader, water hog. They took delivery of a new W4842....and I did the Water +/Extra Rinse, Max Water level programming.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 9:43AM
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I think that I've already done this, actually. I need more water since I do the cloth diapers.

I also checked and our water hardness, according to the city, is 150 mg/l or approximately 8 grains. This was considered to be moderately hard water. This could very well be my problem, in addition to using detergent without brighteners or enzymes. I am going to try a powder detergent without brighteners or enzymes and see if that works better, but I don't know what I will do for jeans. I use the jeans setting a lot on the washer.

I am also wondering if the clothes aren't getting quite dry enough. If they sit, then this would cause them to smell musty, right?

I found the directions to change the water settings on this forum. Would those be the same as your directions, Larsi? Maybe they are the same ones...

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 10:01AM
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Agree 8 grains is "moderate". Should not be a problem assuming type of detergent, dosage, and procedures correct......and the machine itself is operating per-spec.

Clean clothes will not smell musty whether they sit a while or not.

Something's being missed but I can't tell what from cyber-distance. Say again, that the place to start is a clean machine. Would add assured free-flowing drain path. Wish I was there to noodle this out. There IS a solution!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 10:18AM
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Maximum Water Level is the setting that needs to be activated.

I have a video of a smaller Miele washer on my YouTube account. This one also smelled nasty and does lack a cleaning cycle. Because a regular wash cycle only sloshes water around in the lower part of the outer drum, even repeated boil washes at 200F would not cure the problem. The top of the outer tub still remained dirty - that is why self-cleaning cycles also incorporate high drum speeds with water to wash down the entire drum.

What I basically did was to run a Sani cycle with citric acid, catch the drain water in a bucket, put the drain hose into the dispenser drawer and run the washer through the final spin, while adding some of the cleaning solution. Followed by two deep rinses. Voila!


Here is a link that might be useful: Miele Washer Cleaning

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 1:27PM
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I think your biggest problem is probably using detergent not recommended for use in a front load machine. I sense it's not the "Ferrari of washers" doing a bad job but user error :)

The Miele Care products (powders) have almost no suds visible at all. I used my SG 4X liquid this morning to wash a load of kids stuff and I couldn't believe the suds. They were still present in the second rinse. Liquids are by nature sudsier than powders and ones that do not contain suds inhibitors (like the one you're using) are way too sudsy for these machines.

Clean your machine well with citric acid and bleach and start with a clean slate.

Get a good powder - why does it have to be enzyme free?. I get that you don't want OBAs. Are you using the same detergent for diapers and clothes? You may want to consider using one for diapers (sans enzymes) and a better one for clothes.

I honestly believe you need to use a product with (or add on your own) some sodium percarbonate. This is why I think that "green" detergents do not do a great job of maintaining a clean machine. A few do contain the right ingredients but some of them are just too simple in their formulas (IMHO).

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 3:02PM
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suseyb - bacout contains enzymes. Oxygen bleach is perfectly safe and recommended for cloth diapers. When adding bacout you are using a detergent with enzymes.

I read all of the posts and am I reading correctly that clothes are fine out of the washer but smell off after drying? Do you smell the lime from the bacout when taking diapers out of the washer? Do you use cloth wipes? Missing any? 8 grains of hardness is acually pretty ideal for laundry. Will suds and rinse sufficiently.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 8:14PM
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@susyb - Our water is 7 grains, just inside the cusp of "moderately hard", only one grain softer than yours. I have to use one-fourth dose of whatever any laundry detergent package recommends, or I get sudsing and spend the rest of the day rinsing the suds out of the laundry.. Even a dose that is one-third of the package instructions is too much with our water and a Miele W4842 that is very stingy on water. Detergent residue in our laundry, even with "free" and "clear", will lead to itching & rashes in our house.

Do you use a full dose of HE detergent, according to package directions? I wonder if your odor could be detergent residue, inside the tub, that is growing mold. This is a common problem.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 10:05PM
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How do you get rid of the detergent residue in the tub?

If we leave wet clothes in our front-loader (not a Miele) too long, they smell mildewy when they come out of the dryer. It's not a problem so long as you switch the clothes promptly, but you can't leave them sitting overnight.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 10:59AM
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There's something lingering in your machine. In four decades with TL's and, now, FL, I've never encountered this issue....although I have encountered it in friends' machines. In particular, I frequently leave my loads in the machine overnight -- then, as now -- and they remain fresh and clean-smelling at all times.

First step is to get your machines cleaned out. Second step (I suspect) would be to examine your products and procedures and probably change them so that the issue doesn't come up again.

What kind of machine do you have? Water quality? Temperatures and products used? etc.?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 11:16AM
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Thanks, asolo. The washer is going through a "clean machine" cycle right now. Serves me right for never reading the manuel.

It's a Whirlpool Duet. I live in NYC, so soft water. We use Tide HE generally, but sometimes the Tide with color safe bleach that's not HE -- we've learned over time that you have to decrease the amount of that detergent or get too many suds so we use about half the rec dosage.

We have had a drain backup cause flooding at the washer before, and I'm wondering if maybe this problem doesn't date to around that time... But I'm not sure. It's been a while, so I can't quite remember.

Thanks again!

By the way, does your username refer to the asolo in Italy? I was in Asolo this summer with my family and it's beautiful there.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 12:34PM
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FWIW, I have Duet also....about seven years, now. I have soft water and use about 1/4 cup of Tide HE powder for full "normally soiled" load. (I vary the dose depending on load size and soil level) I get excellent cleaning and no residue. The entire machine looks like it came off the showroom floor yesterday.

If you get a powerful flashlight and get your head and shoulders inside the drum and shine the light just right, you can see through the holes in the drum and inspect all around the outer drum. There's nothing in there. Even the heating element is clean. My "clean machine" cycle shows a bubble or two when I run it, but nothing more. Since you've had "musty smell" problems, I'd suggest running that cycle several times. I would also suggest checking the pump pre-filter.....spread some towels down because it will dump a cup or two of water out when you open it.

"Asolo" is a name I borrowed from a pair a hiking boots I liked several decades ago. No other association. I've been to quite a few places in Italy. I, too, found MANY of them beautiful....like the people and the food. (but watch out for the coffee!)

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 12:52PM
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I have been using Asko washers/dryers for almost 14 years, and definitely get a mildewy smell in clothes washed on cooler temps and left in the washer overnight. I keep it to a minimum by having every third cycle or so be a really hot one (though the Miele is now limited in this regard), over 160 degrees. I also use (unscented) OxiClean in every load, and that helps a lot (for detergent I use Cheer Free, about a teaspoon per load).

I would never use chlorine bleach in my machine, because it breaks down the gaskets.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 1:12PM
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Over dosing your planet detergent may also be adding to the problem.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 12:06AM
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