Stinky Miele 4840 Washer

MizAnnThropeJune 7, 2013

My washer has an ongoing problem with a sour, almost sulphur-like smell. I use liquid Tide and Mrs. Meyer's fabric softener. I've run it on the sanitize setting, but it hasn't helped - or, maybe it did for awhile, but not for too long. I do about 1/2 and 1/2 cold and warm loads. I have city water and a water softener, but the softener was broken for awhile. Could this be lime buildup somewhere in machine and, if so, how do I remedy? Is it worth removing the gasket (if that's even possible) to look for mold? It's not a traditional moldy smell, tho, like when you leave the clothes in there for too long. It's a sour-ish smell. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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I use very little liquid detergent and no fabric softeners, but other family members do. I do frequent hot water washes. I never leave the washer door closed and sometimes in the humid weather pull out the detergent tray. Have you cleaned the tray lately?

I would try running the hottest water cycle you can below sanitize without adding any detergent. Any suds? Lots of suds. Lots of suds means you've been overdosing detergent and also may indicate buildup.

Report back here what you find and hopefully you'll get some additional info.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 12:23AM
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Hi CC:

I always leave the door open. I regularly clean detergent tray (in dishwasher - works great). Rarely have much in the way of suds. I ran the sanitize program last night with 3 cups of bleach, and the washer now smells fine. I didn't notice if, during that program, there were suds. I just put the sour smelling load of wash back in, using a warm setting. We'll see.....

I'm reading that powder detergent is better than liquid for these types of machines. I don't even recall seeing powder in the stores anymore. The posts I've been reading are a few years old, so I'm wondering if anyone has solved this problem by switching to powder and, if so, which brand. Or, which brand of powder is best.

I've also been reading that once monthly (?), it's necessary to clean the washing machine. (Irritating that I have to clean the cleaner) I've seen several products mentioned for this. Any recs for this type of product as well? I've also seen suggestions to use vinegar, however, I've seen equal posts saying vinegar doesn't work.

As I said before, it's not a moldy/mildewy smell. I was able to pull back the gasket a bit, and I don't see anything in there.

I'm also reading that others have returned this machine due to the high vibration. Mine shakes the whole house. I thought this was just a necessary part of owning it.

So frustrating to have these problems with such an expensive machine. My prior machine, a cheapo, decades old, inherited Kenmore never had these problems. Sigh.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 12:28PM
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Well, the smell is back. I don't see how it can be the water, as I don't notice the smell in the dishwasher or anywhere else. Guess I'll try a dishwasher cleaner and powder detergent and call Miele next week. :(

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 3:08PM
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"I do about 1/2 and 1/2 cold and warm loads."

My guess is that this is probably the main cause of the odor. Second guess would be overdosing of detergent and/or fabric softener.

Everything I read here at GW, while researching before buying our first FL washer, told me that it is a good idea to wash at least one load a week in HOT water, or run the Sanitize cycle every 10 to 14 days. The HOT water load would ideally also have a non-chlorine bleach in it. The sheets, the dust & cleaning cloths, as well as hubby's underwear all get HOT, once a week.

Fabric softener is also known to be a culprit in odors and mold. We don't use it anyway because of allergies, but diluting the strength and small doses won't hurt if there is the weekly HOT wash load that kills off any residual stuff lurking.

I have also read (no personal experience here, yet, thank goodness) is that it might take a few SANITIZE cycles to clean out whatever is causing the odor.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 3:22PM
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Maybe it's a regional thing, but powdered detergent isn't difficult to find here at all: Grocery stores, Target, WalMart all have something available. Maybe not the bazillions of choices that they do for liquid, but it IS there. Also try online at Amazon or

Have you checked the drain trap? Maybe there is something small in there like a sock or undie that could be holding the odor in? Hasn't happened in my Miele, but in another washer I had. I haven't used LCB since I got my Miele either. I use Ecover Sodium Perborate. Similar to Oxi without any additives.

Gotta say I'm stumped.

Maybe others can chime in with suggestions.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 1:31PM
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Miele make a product called dishwasher and washing machine cleaner which is excellent at cleaning the drum of any build up from constant low temperature washing. You use it with the Sanitize program. Unfortunately it's don't on the online shop. You can probably find it on Amazon or Ebay

Here is a link that might be useful: Miele cleaner

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 7:28AM
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Miele's cleaner is sold in its shop under Accessories.

Another choice might be smelly washer cleaner.

Miele's shop also sells Persil powder which I swear by.

Here is a link that might be useful: Miele Shop

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 7:51AM
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I agree with Cavimum. Run at least one HOT wash a week and one SANITARY wash every other week. I wash bed sheets, duvet covers, towels, kitchen towels, dusters, mop heads, etc. (not together of course) either on hot or sanitary cycles in my front loader and never have any smell issues (I do use small amounts of fabric softener for most of my loads).

As to the shaking, make sure that your washer leveled correctly.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 9:38AM
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Well, I'm doing almost no cold loads, doing more hot loads, not using fabric softener, using a washing machine cleaner (by Tide, but will try Miele cleaner later) and I've switched to powdered Tide (haven't had a chance to try Persil yet, but seems awfully expensive). And yes, CC, I do check the drain trap regularly. The smell still crops up every now and then for no apparent reason.

Now, I'm noticing that there's barely any water in the machine, especially during the wash cycle. There are dry patches on fabrics when the whole cycle is complete!! What would happen if I paused the machine and dumped water into the washer? Is that a no no? Eventually, I guess that I'll have to have a plumber out to re-check the whole set-up, but I can't afford to right now. And I guess I can add the add'l plumbing expense on top of the expense of having to keep double washing loads, in more hot water that I have to pay to heat up.

I HATE this machine and I could kick myself for spending the ridiculous amount of money on it that I did.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 6:47PM
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Peel back the gasket. Any film or buildup Behind it.
What about the white flange of the drum that sits against the gasket.
White or pink mold/biofilm.

Next, take a very bright light (like a LEF flashlight).
Shine and look all over between the inner/outer drum.
Is the white fiberglass outerdrum nice and white.

Any black, or specks of *stuff* that you uncover.

I had a buildup in mine....I never got any smells, but I peeked in and discovered it with the above method. Changed washing routine, etc - as well as did quite a bit of cleanup to remove the buildup that had occured..

    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 10:51PM
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I have a Miele Novotronic that has served me well for many years. Never, ever did I have a mould or stinky laundry problem.

What I think is happening is that the newer washers have plastic drums.
That the hottest temperature cycle is not very hot (mine is 90Cel).
People use liquid detergent which gums things up.
People use liquid fabric softener.
I am sure there are more reasons for why your washer may smell but having to clean your washing machine is ridiculous. But having looked into other front loaders for a rental unit some years ago I discovered all the current models have odor issues.
Why doesn't my Miele have these issues? For one, it's not a large capacity machine -- Miele has since stopped producing large machines for the American market; I can see why. Building the large one in the same manner mine was built would basically make the unit unaffordable. Also, I would imagine that certain parts, such as the drum, to accommodate a larger load, need to be lighter. My point, to do such a machine right, it would have to cost a whole lot more than for what it sold.
No current front loader marked for the home market in this country appears to be free from the odor issues.

Try to use powdered detergent. You can order "Persil" through Miele, both for white clothing and for "colors". The Persil for white clothing can be bought in a larger economy size. I usually buy a package once a year. Of course, I use different products for different materials. Miele's silk/fine fabric liquid, etc. Whenever possible, buy powder instead of liquid. Don't use fabric softener. Unless you plan to airdry your laundry, there really is no need for fabric softener. It only helps to gum things up.
Also, use the minimum amount of detergent; measure, don't just add. The environment will thank you as well.
Don't just wash cold, wash cycles that require very hot temperatures (I am afraid in the large Miele's you may not be able to wash hotter than 70F, but it's better than nothing). When you are done, wipe the interior and especially where the water collects in the rubber part. Then leave the door slightly open.
See whether this works. Perhaps you can let me know?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 8:52PM
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" There are dry patches on fabrics when the whole cycle is complete!!"

That does not sound right. I have the W4842 and everything gets completely wet during the wash cycle.

Which cycle did you use when this happened?
How full are you filling the drum for a load of clothes? To the very top?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 2:25PM
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That is why they call it spin-dry. Certain fabrics can emerge practically dry from the final spin - esp. synthetics.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 6:16PM
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No current front loader marked for the home market in this country appears to be free from the odor issues.

Mitzi123, I'm sorry, but you are wrong on this. Plenty of people on this forum have front loaders and most have no problems with smells or mold. I certainly have had none in my Electrolux during the two years I've owned it, and I know I'm not alone.


    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 12:26AM
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When was the last time you flushed your hot water heater?

Many times sulfer smells are actually coming from the hot water heater.

Most hot water heater manufacturers recommend flushing a hot water heater at least once a year.

Here is a link that might be useful: Water smells like sulfer or rotten eggs

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 11:10AM
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Mitzi et al,
I am way, way remiss in not coming back here much sooner with an update and thanks for all of your responses.
My problem has been solved. What to attribute it to is somewhat difficult, as I tried many things at once.
Here's what I did:
1) Less cold loads and appropriately spaced out hot loads.
2) Persil powder detergent - not that much per load, maybe a couple Ts
3) No more liquid fabric softener
4) Although I cleaned the washer a few times with a Tide washer cleaner, as well as citric acid, as well as the "Sanitize" cycle, I haven't done that in a long time; and I haven't had the stinky issue again.
5) Repaired water softener (which has now stopped working again, sigh; but it's been like that for at least 6 months and no stinkiness)

For awhile, I was pausing the machine after the wash cycle started and adding water. I no longer have to do that.

I'm so relieved and happy that this problem is OVER. And I have to say that I do love Persil.

I also appreciate the tip on the water heater, as that would not have been on my radar had you not mentioned it, Jakvis.

This post was edited by MizAnnThrope on Sun, Dec 28, 14 at 12:27

    Bookmark   December 28, 2014 at 12:26PM
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I used Liquid Tide also when I first got a FL washer. Same smell. It was awful. Then I used another brand(forget what) and the smell wasnt there. Then used Tide again and it was back so I never used Tide Original liquid again(but this has been 14 yrs). Use powder and Downy unscented watered down and no problems. Must have been something in the Tide and our water that caused the smell since most people do not have the same problem.(with Tide liquid) Glad you got yours solved also.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2014 at 2:02PM
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OP, I read your earlier post and noted you said that the machine shakes the whole house. This is not normal. A couple of things could be causing this.

1) you have it set on the middle of a joist span, so that the machine is bouncing the floor like a trampoline. The instructions say to place it against a load bearing wall if on a wood floor.

2) Its out of balance.

3) the struts in the machine that are used for shipping have never been removed.

There should be no vibrations.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2014 at 7:49AM
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