First time owner of a FL, have some questions on soaps

kodiakbearJuly 5, 2012

Hello everyone! After six years of battling with a lemon Kenmore Elite Oasis canyon capacity washer (broke every year since we bought it) we've finally bought a new washer today. Got the Samsung WF331ANR. I have 30 days [that's the return with no penalty time period] of use to see if it's worth the money so I want to use it right and avoid smells, etc. I've seen others mention powder is best for these front loaders, not to use fabric softener, avoid chlorine bleach...what should I use? Keep in mind we live in the country, Wal Mart is the only store other than two small grocery stores. Online ordering isn't something I'm interested in, though I don't have a problem getting components and mixing my own. Our needs are heavy duty -- four teen boys, three adults (mother lives in a MIL apartment on our property) and five dogs total (three for me and two for Mom).

I want clean laundry again. I can't wait to put a load in and have a machine that will actually *finish* instead of banging about like a possessed animal before flashing the dreaded 'uL'.

All advice is heartily appreciated!

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Don't do cold washes unless the fabric or item demands it. Running only or primarily cold is a contributor to residue accumulation. Warm on the extremely HE/EnergyStar machines on the market nowadays isn't warm as in the past, so a weekly hot wash for whites/cottons is an excellent maintenance procedure. Your machine of choice has an onboard water heater which also helps keep it clean and odor-free, if you make use of the feature.

Avoid chlorine bleach is not a requirement. It's good for sanitizing the machine and preventing mold accumulation.

Powders vs. liquids is the $64,000 question. Many people use liquids with great success. Others not so much if the product reacts unfavorably with local water chemistry/conditions and promotes slimy residue.

Don't bother with homemade detergents. The home chemist can't include enzymes and dye transfer inhibitors and other such ingredients that make commercial products do their jobs so well.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 8:05PM
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Detergent - everything works for someone, but don't use too much. Less seems to be more in these machines. I like the Free and Clear liquids - Method and All - but some folks love Tide or the "fancy" foreign brands. It seems if you have hard water you may have more issues than those of us with very soft water.

As Dadoes said - run a hot wash and/or use the Clean Washer cycle if you have one. Also, leave the door open (not during the Clean Washer cycle) :)

Happy washing!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 8:28PM
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Ah, yes water is an issue. We are on a well and our water quality is poor with invisible iron *but* we do have a water softener installed and use the pellets that say they help more with the iron in the water. I'm not sure how much of a difference the water softener makes overall but I know it has all but taken away the smell issues we had when we bought the house three years ago. The good news is that our area is getting public water soon though we'll still run it through the softener, no reason not to I think?

I was using cold more often than not because of shrinking issues but after reading so much during the washer research I'm beginning to suspect that is from our dryer. :( It's not the brightest bulb in the laundry room either but it does still work so we won't be replacing it right away.

I always have bleach on hand because we have to power wash our home frequently to keep the siding clean from algae/mold (we live near Charleston, SC so it's hot and humid for a lot of the year). A mix of TP + bleach does wonders for the siding. :) I had read that it was rough on clothing and it didn't seem to be doing anything for my whites but again, I now suspect it's the machine at fault. It's been such a gradual decline in performance that it hasn't been until the last few months I started really noticing the clothes are just not getting cleaned well.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 8:38PM
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Don't overdo the chlorine bleach, occasional use on whites is reasonable.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 9:29PM
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Thank you for the help!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 9:47PM
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I have a Samsung 337 from about 3 years ago and I use Tide or Gain most of the time. Use either granular or liquids depending on what is on sale when I need some. At first I didn't use fabric softeners but found they helped the all cotton handkerchiefs an sheets from curling up at the edges so I use it now unless the instructions for an item specically says don't use it. I haven't had to use HE detergents either. What I do is to wipe the moisture from the rubber door seal and stick my dry old towel under the edge and also wipe the back side and the contact area of the drum. Very cosistant about keeping the moisture out of crannies around the door. Never have had a mold problem, but we do live in the desert so air dries everything out in a day if it can get to it.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 3:33AM
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Check your manual some machines don't support the use of chlorine bleach. It is rough on fabric and I would avoid using it and try a powdered oxygen bleach and see if that might work for you. An occasional hot wash is a good idea but again I think too much hot washing will fade colours. Might be a Canadian thing but the preoccupation with hot washing found on here isn't something I hear amongst friends or colleagues in this neck of the woods.Enjoy your new machine, I have a very low end Samsung pair and they have been great so far (2.5 years).

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 7:09AM
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Do not overload your machine. The owners manual should have a guide on volume. Nothing more than 2/3 or 4/5 to the top is generally the norm. Run a "Sanitize" cycle a couple times a month, following your FL owner manual suggestions. Always wipe the rubber gasket thoroughly and leave the door open or partially open. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It doesn't take long for mold to grow here in the hot, humid south.

Because you have a water softener in your home, consider using less detergent than what any detergent product label suggests. Know your end use water softness. Our city water is "moderately hard" (4.1 grains --- 70 - 85 mg/L) but in our Miele FL, because it uses so little water, I absolutely must use 1/4 of whatever detergent dose is on the label for the size load. Otherwise, I have detergent residue and can see suds in the final rinses.

Best way to check.... when a cycle is complete, if you have "quick rinse" or similar cycle, or a 'delicates' with a high water level, run that with no detergent, get a flashlight, and watch for suds in and around the laundry.
A lot of these FLs really do not rinse very well. We do not use fabric softener, so there is nothing to 'kill' the visual suds, so what I see in that drum is what I'm getting.

Detergent residue and fabric softener residue are major contributors (causes?) of mold growing inside a FL washer, based on my research findings.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 9:36AM
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Listen to Dadoes.

The secret is to find the brand of detergent, and doseage, that works well with your water, wallet, and possible allergies. You can read all the posts of liquid vs powder. When my boys were young I was a Tide user. Now when it's just the occasional garden dirt, I've been using the Sears brand. Walmart should carry all the big brands, even in your small community. Buy the smallest box until you find one you like.

I'm on my second FL and have never had issues with the mold and mildew. But part of that is probably where I live. Take the advise of others and do the tub cleaning cycles, especially since you live in a humid climate. I use hot water and fabric softener in certain loads. I do dilute the softener. I'm also a powder detergent person. Just because I don't like messing with the liquid. Car towels get chlorine bleach. Whites get the oxi-clean brand bleach.

I guess I'm saying is I've always used the detergents, softeners, and whiteners that I used in the top loaders. It just takes less. I would advise to use a HE detergent. I had the old Maytag Neptune that was suppose to be the poster child for a terrible FL. Other than I just wore it out, it was still working (but noisily) when I bought a new Samsung.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 6:38PM
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Thank you all so much! Lots of helpful information. My husband got it home and installed while I was at work so when I got home he presented me with the washer ready to go. First thing he did was tell me, "Try to move it. Go on. Shove it." Not sure what he was trying to prove, I tried to push it and was shocked because it...didn't move LOL. I've got a load of towels running now and we were sitting here for a bit and I asked him, "Hear that?" He gave me a puzzled look. I smiled and said, "Exactly!" I just put about 1/4 cup, maybe a little less, of our current liquid for now but I've got a box of biokleen on the way from amazon just to try after reading some good information on that soap. Because of how little you need to use it should last long enough to justify ordering online and we have prime through amazon so there were no shipping charges. I'll follow the advice of try different ones to see which works best with our water.

I wish I'd have found this forum ages ago. Reading back through old posts there's lots of good just general information on laundry.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 7:45PM
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kodiakbear: "I've got a box of biokleen on the way from amazon just to try after reading some good information on that soap. Because of how little you need to use it should last long enough to justify ordering online and we have prime through amazon so there were no shipping charges. I'll follow the advice of try different ones to see which works best with our water."

We have had front-loading washing machines (exclusively) since the late 1930s, which was well before top-loading automatic washers were invented, and we have never been anal-retentive about adopting any routines to avoid musty or moldy smells -- and yet we never have experienced musty or moldy smells. However: (1) it never occurred to us to close the door until it latched after we removed the wet clothes from the washer, so ours always has remained slightly ajar between washes; and (2) it has been our practice to use a scoop (about 1/3 cup) of borax in every load. Borax is a mild disinfectant as well as a strategy to reduce the quantity of soap or detergent that we need to use; it typically rinses better than detergent alone does, too.

Our current washing machine, like yours, is a recent model Samsung (ours is a WF419aaw), and the operator's manual, not to mention stickers on the inside of the detergent dispensing drawer itself, are quite clear and unambiguous that the only detergents that you should use in it must be rated or labeled HE.

Your choice of Biokleen is an excellent one; several years back, after experimentation with the available options, we settled on the All Temperature liquid version of Biokleen (which is concentrated "HE 3X") as the best solution for us, and -- using our one scoop of borax per load -- need only one-half capful of detergent per load. So we get at least one hundred -- probably more -- loads out of the 64-oz/"64 load" bottle. (The All Temperature Biokleen liquid differs from the Cold Water Biokleen liquid only in that the latter contains enzymes; we prefer to add our enzymes, in the form of Biokleen Bac-Out, only as needed, rather than in every load). When you are getting low on the Biokleen powder that is on the way to you now, you may want to try the Biokleen liquid next, seeing as your Amazon Prime subscription makes the shipping cost irrelevant.

As dadoes rightly points out, the specific nature of your water will have a lot to do with what laundry detergent works best for you, so keep experimenting until you are satisfied; the perfect match is Out There somewhere.

Here is a link that might be useful: More about Biokleen liquid all-temperature

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 7:35PM
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Thank you herring! I spotted a box of 20- mule borax at the commissary today (grocery store) but didn't purchase because I wanted to double check it's safety for septic systems.

I'll look into the liquid! One thing I know is this current stuff I'm finishing up has to go. It's not that great and I bought it to try as it was on sale. I used to exclusively by Tide but started experimenting this past year. I've also been eyeing the woolzies balls for the dryer. I've heard enough to make me leery of using downey and the dryer sheets are out because not only are they causing problems with build up in the dryer but our newest dog has an unhealthy fascination with them! She pounces on them, seeks them out, shreds them to bits and then winds up in the emergency vet on Christmas Eve!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 8:34PM
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@kodiakbear - I have BioKleen powders in my stash and use it in the "rotation". I really like the Premium Plus version for sweaty golf & yard work clothes because it has enzymes.

The BioKleen powder seems to suds less and rinse out better than other F&C powder brands I use (EcoVantage and Sears). It works great on normal, everyday soiled garments. There are no perfumes in BioKleen, either. For all the F&C (free and clear) types of detergents we have to use, this is one that does not make us itch, and it's not even their F&C type.

I even bought a bottle of the liquid to use on woolens, because it is enzyme and oxy-bleach free. Again, works great on normal soil but I pre-treat stains on hubby's washable wool blend slacks.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 11:16PM
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