Washing machine mold

kris_zone6August 26, 2012

After reading this forum for 3 or 4 years, I am beginning to think that mold is fueled by the use of fabric softener, liquid detergents and not enough hot water washes. I have had a FL for 3 years and do not have mold. I leave the door open and pull out the detergent drawer. I use powdered detergent most of the time, occasionly using a liquid, depending on the load. I do not use fabric softener. I do at least 2 hot water washes a week. This is only my opinion based on my observations.

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and you would be incorrect.

We use fabric softener, do a variety of temperature washes, and haven't had ANY mold grow in a year. Why, you ask?

Because we leave the door open, wipe out the water from the bottom of the boot, remove the detergent tray, and run a small (9") fan after the last wash, while the dryer does a load. when we come back to remove clothes from the dryer, we turn off the little fan and place it back on top of the dyer. It's not that big of deal to avoid problems with mold--I'd rather spend the few moments avoiding issues, than have to deal with a nasty washer that has grown mold. :)

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 10:28AM
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dave1812, the fact that you're able to avoid mold while using fabric softener shows that mold isn't inevitable when using FS. It doesn't mean that FS doesn't contribute to mold. The conditions inside your washer may just not be conducive to the growth of mold, perhaps because you ventilate it with a fan. Maybe you wouldn't get mold even if you didn't use a fan; only way to find out is to try it.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 10:56AM
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When I had my first top-loader, a Kenmore HE 3, I exclusively used liquid detergent (too much, probably) and fabric softener (the same) with every load. I did do hot and warm water washes now and then, but no on-board heater, so just tap hot. I left the door slightly open when not in use. No mold issues or smells.

I think the environment pays a part, however, as we are in the PNW, so low humidity most of the time.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 12:31PM
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Fabric softner is animal fat or vegetable oil. Under the right conditions it will breed mildew. Many liquid detergents have polymers to maintain viscosity and ensure that it won't dry out. Seems to me that fat coated with polymer would be an ideal environment for mold and mildew.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 7:26PM
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Well, Dave1812, my opinion might not be correct in your eyes, but, what I am doing seems to work for me. Have you ever looked at what is left in the fabric softener container when it is empty? Yuck.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 8:08PM
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I agree with your method of operation and why you don't have mold. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason why people get mold.
My sister has a Kenmore 2T washer. She uses CUPS of liquid detergent per load, always washes cold and never leaves the door open (her cats will use the washer as a litter box if she does). She has had this washer for 6 years and has never had a mold or odor problem. And then there are people who are careful about these things and they get mold.
But I think that using powdered detergent is better to prevent mold than liquid detergents are. We once used liquid detergents and had problems. Once we converted back to powdered detergents we have never had a problem.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 3:31PM
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Certainly plenty of anecdotal evidence points to excessive use of fabric softener and cold water washes as contributors to mold and mildew. Nobody is saying that using fabric softener and washing in cold will necessarily cause mold, but FS and cold water washes are most definitely risk factors.

Certainly smoking cigarettes exponentially raises your risk of getting lung cancer, but not everyone who smokes cigarettes gets sick.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 9:37PM
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kris, I dilute the daylights out of the fabric softener, which is probably why I don't have issues with mold, nor do I want to reduce absorbency of our towels. I guess I've hit the sweet spot for softness vs "side effects". :)

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 5:14PM
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Dave, I agree with your dilution of fabric softener, the more dilute the better. I have friends who have soft towels, but they don't absorb anything and they don't understand why. For those few and far between times that I need a fabric softener, I just use a dryer sheet. We all need to evaluate our own needs and do what is right for us. There is no 'one answer fits all.'

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 11:08PM
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Running a "tub clean" or "pure cycle" once a month should keep the mold away. One can also add bleach or white vinegar during these cycles to enhance the effect. The most common place for mold build-up in front load washers is behind the rubber flaps near the door. Getting deep in the flaps with a dry cloth once a month will also reduce the accumulation of this hidden mold.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 2:16AM
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I had a FL for 10yrs, never had a mold issue with it. Even when it was used in the basement of the first house for 3 years. I used liquid soap and softener. Never left the door open to dry the inside either. I did wash mainly in warm and hot water with a internal heater aboard the machine.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 10:41AM
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I am researching FL washers & would like to know from those of you with experience - the two most common problems seem to be mold & the door seals. If you leave your FL door open to prevent mold, do you have more problems with the rubber door seals?

From personal experience with upright refrigerators, stored open for a week to prevent mold, but door seal dried & wouldn't stay shut. We taped it shut & were able to get the seal working again.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 3:12PM
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I had a He3T washer with heater for 10 years, used liquid soak, FS, did mainly warm and hot washes, loved the sani cycle, never left the door open or dried the rubber boot. I never had a mold or build up problem in the machine. I account it to doing the warm and hot washes IMOP. My onboard heater use to boost the hot and warm washes on most cycles, not just one or two of them like mose new front loaders today.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 3:24PM
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12 years ago when I purchased my Neptunes I had little clue about the proper use of a front load machine. We used it like we had used our old dependable Maytag top load for nearly 20 years and especially with the encouragement of government to save energy by using cold water almost exclusively. We poured on the liquid detergent and used liquid softner and bleach with the whites.
After less than 4 years our clothes were coming out reaking of mold smell. It took me awhile to figure out that it was from soap skum buidup, softner buildup, and molding going on in the outer tub area completely out of sight. I dismantled the machine and posted pics of the horrible mess. I cleaned out all the skrud manually and made all like new again.
Members of this forum helped me figure out that the problem wasnt the great Satan Maytag, but from disastrous abuse of our front load machine. I personally switched from liquid detergent to powdered detergent and far less of it each load. I stopped using any softner other than dryer sheets. And the most important switch, at least one HOT wash load per week, with bleach.
In the next 8 plus years we have NEVER had an issue with soap scum, mold or smelly wash ever again. We have never left the door open, didnt even do monthly clean cycles. Never had to wipe down the door seal.
Now Im not going to say that you cant use liquid detergent, or add softner to your wash, as I believe hot washes are the key, once a week. Our touchscreen Neptune that we switched to a year later has onboard water heater which I am sure helps as well.
So make your conclusions but the proof is in the results. Front loaders are FAR more common today than when we purchased our Neptune and many lessons have been learned by Americans on the use of front loaders, especially here because we dont have 220 volt machines with powerfull onboard heaters like the Euro market and Canada.
Proper use will go a long way in making any machine more durable and your user experience much more pleasant.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 7:24PM
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Everyone has different issues with their machine because they have different conditions in their home and washer; mold growth depends on a lot of factors. I maybe just one of the lucky ones who has never had a problem yet but I've always used liquid detergent except when powdered is needed for certain soils like clay, etc...and I've always used liquid fabric softener and in the entire 8 years I had the FL Kenmore HE3t, I never had an issues with fs buildup in the machine or clothes. I always left the door open after the last load, wiped the seal, and rinsed the tray. I've been using my Electrolux IQ Touch washer for just over a year the same way and so far no issues, the fs tray actually flushes cleaner when dispensed. I run the "System Clean" cycle when it displays on the screen.

Now I'm not saying that I won't have issues in the future because anything can change. I just don't have any problems with mold or bad smells now and I won't worry about it until such problem arises. I too run at least 2 hot washes per week, the rest are all warm wash, I've never used a cold wash my entire life.

It just seems like the harder one concentrates on trying to keep something from happening, the more it tends to happen anyway.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 1:44PM
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All cold washes, too much liquid tide HE, and too much liquid fabric softener did this in under 4 years.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 5:24PM
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@fordtech - Yipes. I would hate to be wearing the clothes and using the bath towels & sheets that came out of that machine over those four years.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 5:36PM
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So did we almost 10 years ago when that pic was taken. But of course this didnt happen all at once, it was a buildup over those years.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 7:34PM
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@fordtech: I don't know why, but that pic just makes me rethink using all these laundry products. I guess it's just a matter of not using too much of something. I hate to use just a little detergent like many on here do I guess because I fear my clothes will eventually start to get that "funky" not so clean smell but at the same time, I don't want to use too much and have all that suds residue making me itch and making my clothes scratchy and crunchy.

These days of HE FL's, it's hard for one to know what to do, especially when one has used a traditional TL for so long.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 9:07AM
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Charterops, I have used the little cups that come with the Sears Ultra Plus HE powder for years. I use one for average loads of colored clothes or 2 for the dirtiest loads like my work uniforms, towels, whites. It is a 50cc cup. I have never found it to be too little to do acceptable cleaning but there are always stains and such you should pretreat of course.
I think the amount of detergent is not as critical as the hot water used. I believe the cold water washing only was the biggest cause. And of course way too much detergent and fabric softner for the conditions. You just cant use detergent like you would for a 30 gallon wash load in a top loading washer, with a couple 30 gallon rinses.

I see so many people who have replaced their machines several times over the past 10 years so I don't know if they could offer a real concensus, but those of us using the same machines over a long time can offer a pretty good perspective.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 1:06PM
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Try 'Charlie's soap'!
I was converted a couple of years ago because I was about to have babies in the house and I wanted to rid the house of all the yucky nasties so I switched from Tide to a more natural product which doesn't leave residue on clothing... it also DOES NOT require fabric softener and actually tells its consumers NOT to use it - the clothes do get softer the more you use the product and you don't need much (1TB) so ideal for FL and HE washers (I also use vinegar in the rinse cycle)
And no I don't work for the company lol just been really impressed by the product and now can't believe I used to use fabric softeners that leave nasty chemicals all over the clothing
Can anybody tell me why it's better to not use a liquid with FL's - why is powder better??? I am about to switch out brand new electrolux because the washer developed mold after 8 mths of use - I use charlies' soap (so low soap/suds) and no fabric softener BUT I wash mainly cold which makes me think that this is the problem coupled with the humidity we get here in summer (got the washer early spring and it went through one summer then beg of winter mold) - with the new machine I may switch to powder (based on the advice here) continue with charlie's soap and vinegar but ensure I have a couple of hot sanitize washes per week (for sheets/towels)

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 10:15AM
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It is essential to run a true HOT wash (make sure it is HOT and not some manufacturer's idea of hot, which can be 100 degrees F) at least once a week to kill residual bacteria that will grow mold. It's even better if you use a non-chlorine bleach (like Ecover) in that load.

The cost of heating hot water and taking a few steps of prevention are far cheaper than replacing a moldy machine. I faithfully dry out the gaskets, remove the detergent tray, leave the door open, and make sure there is good circulation in our hot & humid climate.

Reading this site makes for time well spent, IMHO:


as well as:


This post was edited by Cavimum on Mon, Mar 18, 13 at 11:32

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 11:30AM
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Cavimum, I appreciate your posting this UKWhiteGoods site. I've read it before, not sure about how authoritative it is, but now I feel even better about alternating between powder and liquid detergents. Thank you.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 11:47PM
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I've had my FL Samsung for over 15 months and it's as fresh as the day I bought it because:

1. door is left open after wash. boot is dried out at the bottom with a rag. small 9" fan is used to help dry interior as last load of laundry is in the dryer. takes about 15 seconds to place the fan (which is kept on top of dryer onto a nearby stool) and another few moments to stow the fan, and the stool back in it's position several feet away. takes more time to write about it than to do it.

2. roughly every 3rd or 4 wash (last load of the day, usually) is HOT.

3. Am careful to not use too much detergent or softener.

I no longer have to run the Pure Cycle every couple of weeks, since I've followed the above regimen.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 10:18PM
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oops looks like I was wrong. the washer and dryer are roughly 28 months old.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 10:20PM
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