Mold & smelly washers

kris_zone6October 23, 2009

Some have stated they don't have any mold or smelly washers and others do have it. Does humidity where you live have anything to do with it? I purchased a FL in June and have no issues, but I live in a low humidity area.

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That is the million dollar question.

I personally believe it may have something to do with operator use, but don't quote me. We've had a front loader for ten years with no odor problems. We've never used a washer cleaner, like Affresh, and very very rarely use bleach.

Our son also has a front loader, as do quite a few friends and neighbors. No one we know has mold or odor problems. This is in So Cal.

Maybe the type and amount of detergent and fabric softner could be involved. Or whether an ownner reads the operating instructions and follows them.

I've also read online complaints of mold and odor in traditional agitator washers, as well as repairmen talking about mold and "gunk" build up in these machines too. So I'm not convinced it is strickly a matter of front loading tumble washers. (Although by nature of the design, FLs create an air and water tight seal if the door is closed, preventing them from drying out thoroughly and probably leading to more musty smell issues if the owner always keeps the door shut tight.)

We do leave the door open to dry out the inside of the machine after use. Always did that with our old top loader too. I think a washer is like a shower...if you don't dry it out after you use it and keep it clean it could get gross.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 6:12PM
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If you use the washer the way it was intended to be used you won't have any issues. This means some cold , some warm and some Hot water washes. The only people who have issues are those who mostly wash in cold water, use too much detergent and too much softener.
What the users of only cold water don't understand is that body oils don't come out of the clothes well in cold water and detergents don't activate in water colder than 65ºF. (call the 800 number on the box or bottle of your favorite detergent and ask)

If you run at least 1 or 2 hot cycles per week your machine will never have a problem with mold or musty smells

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 7:35PM
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I live in the Pacific NW and I've had issues with mold and smelly towels in an HE FL machine AND an HE Top Loader. I don't know if it had anything to do with my area, the machines themselves or something I was doing.

The top loader was the early (2000?) Kenmore Calypso (Don't get me started on this POS) and the FL was a Bosch Nexxt purchsed 5+ yrs ago. Maybe they have improved.

I've always left the door open or at least "cracked", never closed. We ran several hot loads a week. I rarely did anything in cold (maybe 1 load per week) We ONLY used HE detergent, and about half of what was recommended. Sometimes, but not often, we would use liquid fabric softner but mostly dryer sheets.

We didnt have it throughout the machine, that I know of, just around the rubber seal @ the door. So it wasn't a HUGE problem, but no one wants to see mold anywhere in their washer, ever. My towels were never soft and fluffy in those machines either, I'm not sure why.

Now that I am thinking of buying a new set, I've pondered what to get because of these issues. (I have a seperate post if you care to offer suggestions)

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 9:01PM
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I agree the lack of hot water is the key. Given the low-fill of HE machines, if they are some distance from the water heater and there's no nearby tap to purge the line those machines never see more than a lukewarm (at best) wash. Unless of course the machine has a built-in heater and the machine operator selects a cycle which activates it.

Just open your dishwasher after the first fill (even after the hot water line is purged) and feel the water. Not even close to hot.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 12:10AM
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Florida FL owner for 20 years plus Europe FL user for over 10.
I believe that using hottest possible water at least couple times a week will prevent all the problems.
I put detergent right in the drum. Even if I use pre-wash, I just use little extra. Extra rinses give me perfect results.The trick is not lots of water for washing but extra for rinsing.Dirtier laundry needs more detergent and couple of extra rinses.
Keep door open in between, clean bottom filters.
Got hard water, not using bleach or other chemical except occasional Cascade when out of Persil.
Splash of vinegar in the rinse.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 1:57AM
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I live in the Houston area -- known for humidity. I don't have a problem with our FL washer. DH did leave a load in the washer and I discovered it 3 days later. They were getting a little funky, but a hot wash with some borax and we were back to normal -- laundry and washer.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 10:47AM
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Consumer reporter for local Washington, DC TV station did a story on mold problems in front load washers.

Here is a link that might be useful: Smelly Washers

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 9:08AM
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There's no mention of the woman's washing habits. Washing only in cold water, using too much or too little detergent, the wrong kind of detergent (non-HE), or too much softener (ESPECIALLY softener) can all contribute to the problem. The machine's cleaning cycle is effective if used regularly BEFORE mold occurs. Once a bad case of infestation happens, the only real cure is to disassemble the machine and clean it properly, THEN follow proper usage procedures to prevent recontamination. There's surely mold in this woman's machine in areas she can't reach, such the outer tub and outside of the inner basket.

And, toploaders ARE susceptible to mold and residue build-up. I disassembled a typical 10-years-old Whirlpool-built, Kenmore-branded agitator-type toploader this weekend that had plenty of residue in the outer tub, exterior of the basket, and even on the agitator. Scrubbed it all down with a brush.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 12:54PM
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I know I live in a high humidity area for three seasons out of the year, but the air gets really dry here in winter. I did everything I was suppose to do regarding drying the gasket, leaving the door open and using bleach once to twice a week but I still ended up with mold and can not get it to go completely away. I have tried all different detergents too and it still didn't matter.

All I can do is try to keep it under control as best as I can with bleach and hot water.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 4:48PM
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I'm in Florida, with one of my homes on the coast. No mold/mildew issues in my FL washers. I use the bare minimum when it comes to detergents, NO fabric softener, NO chlorine bleach, no problems. I do leave the door and dispenser door ajar when it's not in use. FriGEmore is ~9 years old, Danby's ~5.3 years old. No mold. Whites/towels get 140-160F depending on what's going on, lab coats get 200F in the Danby, darks/everything else gets 120F unless it's new then it's only about 105F. 100F is the coldest wash I think I do in my washers. Body temperature (and air temp in FL) is near 95F, so I figure I'm not going to damage the garments by using 100F as a minimum temperature.

I think much of the problem comes from the overuse of fabric softener. My mother loves the stuff. I recently pulled the dispenser drawer on her washer and the whole underside of the drawer and inside of the washer were coated in a thick slime of pink and black mold.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2009 at 2:35PM
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Do you think it might be the water? I've never had smelly towels before, ever. Until we moved to a different city. In the new city we had a top loader, it broke down and we bought a front loader. But even when we first moved in with our top loader I was beginning to notice our towels were getting really funky smelling.

Our front loader is not moldy. I can't smell a thing in there. I can't blame it on the front loader.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2009 at 7:55PM
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Water makes a huge difference! pH differences, solids in the water (minerals/metals), pipes used to move the water (copper/iron/galvanized/pvc), chemicals used in the treatment process, pollutants in the tapwater, etc. Another factor is where your city gets its water from. In theory, the City of Tampa can get its water from the Hillsborough River, groundwater, or desalinization. Each of these methods has different levels of junk in it, and the river runs more acidic in the winter/spring time than it does summer/fall.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2009 at 9:17PM
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I'm in the market for a new washer and dryer. I love the look of the FL washers but honestly folks, I don't want to have to clean the wretched machine every month, buy special anti-mildew products like Affresh and leave the door open so I can bang my leg on it every time I walk through the laundry room to get to the garage! This is such a snow job - the manufacturers should be sued for allowing such defective products on the market.
I don't understand why people don't stick with TL machines. They all have load sizing to save water and we can do cold water washes to save more energy.
I would be absolutely furious if I spent $$$ on a front loader and had to deal with awful smells.
I'm sticking with top-loaders! Maybe I'll just blow up a big photo of one of those sexy-looking FL's and stick it on the front of my TL!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2009 at 3:27PM
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debsz5, It almost like you didn't read any of the posts above.
Your comments about suing the manufacturers is ridiculous.
It's a clear indication that comment of a few can influence you to believing that you will bang your leg every time you walk into your garage.
There are MILLIONS of front load washers in use in North America. I think I remember seeing that Whirlpool produces over 400,000 front load washers a year for the North American market. Electrolux/Frigidaire, GE, Samsung, and LD produce FL's in the hundreds of thousands each. If all these products were defective don't you think the complaints would be in the millions?
Here on Garden web, given your premise, shouldn't the complaints be in the thousands?
In the few posts about mold, for every one person that makes a mold complaint there are 15-20 who post that there is no complaint with their machines.
You state:
I don't understand why people don't stick with TL machines. They all have load sizing to save water and we can do cold water washes to save more energy.
The facts are:
Load size to Load size a front load washer uses 60 to 75% less water than a top load washer.
If every one in a state like California switched to a front load washer tomorrow the state would quite possibly be out of it's water shortage crises by the end of a month or maybe sooner.
I realize you are stating your opinion based on your limited knowledge of a product category but you should realize that there are Millions of satisfied users of these washers.
Sorry for my rant but it's just odd that you would reopen this post that died a month ago. What was the purpose?

    Bookmark   December 20, 2009 at 10:58PM
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I just had a service tech out here a few days ago. He said one of the best things to use for mold and smelly washers is Whirlout. It is originally made for whirlpools and hot tubs but I guess it does an excellent job on front loaders too. It is sold at Menard's. He also recommended finding a mold cleaner that is safe for rubber (the tub and tile kind that is safe on rubber and silicone grout), spraying it on the upper parts of the gasket, letting it sit for a little and then scrubbing it with a toothbrush.

I haven't tried it yet, but I'm planning on doing it soon. I'll let you know how it turns out, but I hope this info is helpful to someone.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2009 at 9:17AM
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Try using vinegar in the rinse cycle, also keep the door ajar until the washer drum dry out this works for me as well as using the extra rinse cycle.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2010 at 1:54PM
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I've had my front loader (Bosch Nexxt 500) for almost two years now, and have yet to have a problem with mold or odor. I do several hot washes weekly, and I use Charlie's Soap detergent. I do not use any fabric softeners.

My mother-in-law has a Frigidaire front loader and was complaining of her machine smelling. At my suggestion, she switched to Charlie's Soap and hasn't had a mold or smell problem since.

I live on the coast of South Carolina and I don't think there's anywhere in the world with more humidity, so don't think the humidity is a factor.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2010 at 5:31PM
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I know it's an old thread, but just wanted to update:
FriGEmore is 14 years old, Danby is 10 years old... NO mold/mildew issues, with both washers located in Florida, one right on the water.

I don't use fabric softener and leave the door ajar on both of them when not in use.

There have even been times when these washers have sat idle for 2 months at a time and still no mildew/mold.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 8:57AM
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