Moldy Fisher-Paykel washer-anyone else have this problem?

vatmarkNovember 29, 2008

Never again will we buy a Fisher-Paykel washer. We bought the Eco Smart 6 years ago. A few years went by and the whole laundry room was starting to smell weird. I also started noticing black specks on the clothes when taking them out of the washer. I looked at all the areas I could see without taking the washer apart and cleaned what ever I could find. That did nothing. We decided to take the washer apart to see if we could figure out where the smell and specks were coming from. We got the drum out and to our horror it was covered in mold and slime. Not just a little. Chunks of it. The little holes in the drum were clogged up with mold. It was the most nasty thing. My husband carried it into our shower where I proceeded to scrub the whole thing down. We put it all back together. Well fast forward to 8 months later. Again we find ourselves going through this process again. It is a 3 hour ordeal. Getting the thing apart, cleaning it,then having to clean the shower and ourselves, getting it back together.

My sister has a Fisher-Paykel washer as well but she bought hers a few years after we bought ours before we knew about this mold issue. She had the same mold issues happen. Neither of us use liquid fabric softner.

Has anyone else who owns one of these machines opened their up to see if they have mold?

I just thought I would share my story to warn others about issues with these machines.

I posted a picture in the gallery of what the drum looks like. This was from just today. When we cleaned this the first time it was even worse.

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What are your washing habits? Do you run a hot wash on a regular basis (and that doesn't mean once every six months)? Do you use a proper dose of detergent? Are you aware there's a programmable cycle (details are in the instruction manual) and recommended procedure to clean the machine periodically, particularly if the majority of laundry is done in cold water (even if softener isn't used)?

By the way, disassembling the machine to clean the inner basket and outer tub is quite easy compared to other topload washers. Open the lid, remove the lid bumpers, remove two screws, raise the top (careful of the out-of-balance lever at the right-rear), unclip the bias spring from the front-left suspension strut, unsnap the tub ring, remove the agitator, the basket lifts out. Tools needed: one Philips screwdriver.

Why are you cleaning the basket in your shower? Do it outdoors, scrub it with a brush and a detergent solution, spray it with a hose to rinse. If the machine's inner tub needs cleaning, with the basket out, pour in a 1/2 gallon of hot water, add some automatic dishwasher detergent, scrub it down (wear rubber gloves and be careful not to damage the drive shaft's seal). Replace the basket, run the machine on spin for a couple mins to drain the water, then through a cycle to rinse it.

I have two F&P washers, one is 9 years old, the other 4 years. No mold and the machines do not have a foul odor. I've not had a need to run the cleaning routine, but I DO run a hot wash every couple weeks. I have pulled the agitators to clean softener residue where it dribbles on the base when dispensing.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 5:50PM
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Yes, I just got rid of my 6 year old ecosmart a few weeks ago when it finally died (much to my relief). I hated that washer from about the first month of ownership. My whites got very dingy and in order to get any of my clothes halfway clean, I had to use the heavy duty wash, hot water, and the softener rinse. I had the smell problem too - it was disgusting. I never took the washer apart (I'm sure I wouldn't have wanted to see that!), just did a hot load with a huge amount of bleach (which I don't like to use due to the septic tank) when I started to notice the smell again. Based on the advice on this forum, I tried adjusting the detergent, amount of detergent, amount of laundry I put in in a load, and several other things, but nothing made any difference. My clothes just weren't as clean as they were with my previous washer, an ancient whirlpool toploader. And any energy savings I was supposed to realize from the F&P were eaten up by the extra deep rinse, heavy duty cycle, and need to wash everything on hot (I had NEVER done a hot wash in any other washer in my entire life - my mom raised me that hot water washes were wasteful, LOL - and my whites were just peachy).

Since replacing the F&P with a Frigidaire Affinity 8000 a few weeks ago, I'm already noticing improvement. Socks that have been dingy and brown-bottomed for years are much whiter and brighter after just one or two trips through the affinity. Stains that I know the F&P wouldn't have touched are coming clean without even pretreating. Heck, I might even try to make my mother proud and go back to cold water washing, LOL!

So while some people have had wonderful experiences with their F&Ps (including Dadoes, who was an enormous help when I was trying to figure out how to actually make the F&P work for me), you are definitely not alone with the stink problem. I would never, ever, ever buy another F&P again.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 10:33PM
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dadoes I wish our washer was like yours.

We run cold washes all the time using tide cold water detergent. We don't use fabric softener and occasionally use oxyclean. I do know about the clean cycle. I have done that periodically and it hasn't done a thing to help with the mold situation. I don't think just running a hot water wash occasionally will prevent this mold buildup. This is big chunky clog up the holes mold. Not a little film.

Our washer is on the 2nd floor of the house and that inner drum is heavy. We were not about to drag that thing down a flight of stairs and then have to drag it back up after we were done cleaning it. Hence it was placed in the shower.

I am just sick of having to do this every 6 months. It's crazy. What I really hope is that the circuit board goes and then we can toss the thing without feeling guilty about spending money on a new machine.

lkplatow the reason why you couldn't get the stink out was because all that mold is on the outside of the drum. The only way to get to that is to remove the entire drum and clean it. I bet your drum looked as disgusting as mine-mold and slime. And even after cleaning it it comes back again and starts smelling again. Not right away but in about 6 months.

This just doesn't seem right. There has to be some kind of design flaw. We have had other washers and never had a nasty smell/mold problem before.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 4:05PM
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I don't think just running a hot water wash occasionally will prevent this mold buildup.But it very well might! Perhaps it's not clear from my response above. I never run cold-only washes (except for the rare delicate item that specifically requires it). Of course, the deep wash after the EcoActive period is a cold fill ... but I always use at least Warm (not Warm/Cold) for EcoActive, and my whites/linens load is done on HOT.

I have used Tide Coldwater (powder, not liquid), but I found it to be very high sudsing and do not recommend it for long-term use. High sudsing can carry greasy soils and residue above the tub's normal water line where it doesn't get flushed away very well. And of course cold water doesn't dissolve greasy soils very well anyway.

If you are adamant about running only cold water washes and your choice of detergent (note that you CAN use warm or hot water with Tide Coldwater), you need to get the machine cleaned up again, then run the cleaning cycle at LEAST monthly, if not every two or three weeks depending on how much washing you do. Use a measured cup of an enzyme-formula DISHWASHER detergent when running it. DON'T wait to run the cleaning cycle until you already have an odor, by then it's too late. If the problem persists, then something about your environment, water conditions, laundry habits, or some combination of those factors, is causing it.

You didn't specifically answer about your detergent dosing. If you are cutting the dosage on the assumption that the EcoSmart model uses less water and thus requires less detergent, that is NOT TRUE. It is true that the EcoActive wash period fills just enough to saturate the clothes, but it is intended to take a full dose of detergent so as to have a concentrated solution for pretreating the clothes and kick-starting the cleaning process. The agitated wash period that follow fills to submerge the clothes like a regular toploader, and also needs a full dose of detergent to keep the soil in suspension until it can be drained away. If you find that a full dose at the start generates too much suds during the EcoActive period, then you need to change to a low-sudsing detergent, or use a smaller dose at the start then add more for the deep wash.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 4:46PM
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Cold washes only definitely can screw up HE machines. Here is the inner tub of my front loader after 4 years of cold only washes. Ever since I have used hot washes weekly, one with bleach. Never have had a whiff of an odor since. Its your choice, change habits or live with this no matter what machine you own.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 9:34PM
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Edit, that should read OUTER TUB

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 9:35PM
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Here too, no idea what the temperature of the "cold" water is. Not sure about dosing, no hot washes, no cleaning cycles and wonder why there's problems. Sounds like there's poor air circulation too, I'm guessing the lid is probably kept closed too... Good grief how can you NOT have mold? And that's the machine's fault? Sorry, that's abuse. That poor machine deserves better.

Why are people so afraid of warm water? Yes, it's probably naivety. I too thought "cold" meant cold tap water. I washed clothes that way and no major problems since I still used hot water and bleach occasionally. But once I started learning more how to wash clothes properly things improved. And when I started with good additives it got better. Then got a top-notch detergent, I didn't need the additives any more and have very clean clothes. All from a 30 year old top loader.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 10:39PM
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I am interested in cleaning out the inner tub/area of my Oasis, but how do I lift up the top? Are there clips that are hidden? I've tried pulling up firmly, but no luck.
Thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 10:45PM
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As a happy owner of a F/P since 2001 (without any mold), - who sets the hot water tank to 125°F and uses hot water for whites, linens, kitchen towels and bath towels - I'd like to point out cold water can be TOO cold to effectively clean clothing. TOO cold to activate detergents and other additives properly.

"Temperatures below 65°F will not activate laundry additives and may CAUSE lint, residue, poor cleaning, etc. In addition, detergent manufacturers and care labels define cold water as 80-85°F."

The good news... A cold rinse is just as effective as a warm one.

I'd also wonder if mold growth is encouraged by letting tubs of wet laundry sit for a prolonged period of time in an unventilated room/closet, in a warm environment. Compounded by many of the other possible factors listed above.

I hate to say it, being a Mom myself, but "Mom" doesn't ALWAYS know best. It appears her cold water wash theory just doesn't hold water (pun intended). From what I've studied on the subject of fabric care and chemicals in laundry products, it seems to point to hot wash (120-140°F) for most white fabrics and heavily soiled colored fabrics. Warm water (80-105°F) wash is the best choice for most OTHER clothes. Save the cold wash (65-75°F) for very lightly soiled or brightly colored garments that may not be colorfast.


    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 5:33AM
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Most modern washers today have automatic temperature control, ATC, and will add some hot water to cold to arrive at a minimum "cold" temp unless your machine selects tap cold. We used cold exclusively for those years to save energy and my wife was always told cold rinses as well as warm. It was a huge mistake with liquid detergent and liquid softner in too large dosage as well (coming from top loaders to front loaders) Many people have had to learn the hard way to change thier laundering habits.

I dont know how one could use Oxyclean in cold water as it really only works well in hot water from what I have read.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 6:10AM
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I had a similar problem after running a GWL11 for approx 3 years w/just cold loads. The problem manifested as the pump appeared to be bad, I thought the impeller was bad.

However when i blew into the water exhaust tube backwards into thoe tub it caused the backflow to bubble out and when I started the vey next load under hot and cold wash cycle it totally blew out and cleared a jelly like mass that had accumulated and obstructed the proper evacuation of water and dirt in the cycle.
Since then I use either a warm or hot water setting. The clothes seem much cleaner than previously.

Originally I was concerned w/$ saving and energy conservation and had used only cold cycles.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 1:36PM
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I am interested in cleaning out the inner tub/area of my Oasis, but how do I lift up the top? Are there clips that are hidden?

Try here.


    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 12:30PM
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Thanks so much for the excellent link!
Do you think my Oasis also has the lint filter? I may attempt to clean that as well since I'll have the thing apart.
Wish me luck! =)

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 1:26PM
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I am so glad I found these post. My washer smelled like mold and when I opened it up it looked just as foul as the picture posted on this site. Chunks of moldy substances came out as I cleaned the tub in my shower (yes I too had to clean in the shower because where I am it is freezing outside with about a foot of snow.) I appreciate that dadoes posted directions to disassemble the machine, I just don't know why dadoes posts are so pro Fisher and Paykel. My washer is four years old. I do not wash in cold water and I do run a hot wash every couple of weeks, but still my washer was so filled with mold that the clothes would smell moldy if I did not pull them out right away. I am not a Fisher and Paykel fan.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2011 at 10:57AM
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I have had my F/P ~ 4yrs in the last 6 months the smell began and continues, seems worse with towels?! We run prob 4-6 loads per wk of laundry I ALWAYS wash towels and undies in HOT, some clothes in cold, always use proper amount of detergent and never have I added a softener. The smell & having to rewash things is getting really old and FRUSTRATING!! Im unable to take machine apart to clean plus why should I have to? It's supposed to clean clothes how can it get so moldy and if it's mold wouldn't that be transferring to my kids clothes towels etc which could cause them to get sick? ANY suggestions for a new NON moldy, mildew washer???

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 7:26AM
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I found this post by googling "Fisher Paykel washer doesn't get clothes clean" and yes, we, too had the mold issue. We didn't take the drum apart. We ran 3 or 4 hot water washes with bleach and could see bits of mold floating in the water. More than the mold issue, my bigger gripe is that it doesnt get clothes clean. period. And forgot about if you get a stain - it never seems to come out. I am not normally a big GE fan but our clothes came out way cleaner using my MIL's GE top-loader (similar design to F-P) and the stains actually came out ! I might replace it even though it's not broken. We have had it for 7 yrs but it hasn't cleaned GREAT from day one.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2011 at 5:23PM
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I can't seem to get a hot water wash in my FP washer. Hot water initially fills but after 4 min. or so, cold water begins to fill and stays as cold water throughout wash cycles...I want to wash my white clothes in hot wash and that means throughout the wash cycle NOT just the very first minutes (prewash, I assume) How can I set this to do that? Thanks for any help!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 6:58PM
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The machine is working properly. That's the Eco part of the design. Only the initial fill for the recirculation/pretreatment EcoActive wash phase at start of a cycle is at the selected temperature. Remainder of the fill for the agitated wash phase that follows is at controlled cold (60F to 68F).

The Perm Press cycle skips EcoActive, goes directly to fill for the agitated wash phase, but normally is limited to no higher than Warm to protect synthetic fabrics.

You don't say what model is your machine, so this procedure may not necessary be correct .... you can get a full fill HOT wash by this programming procedure. Note that you do the programming only once (unless you want to change the Favorite button). The procedure should be in your user manual, although it's described for cleaning the machine of scrud, not for washing clothes.

1. Turn on the Power.
2. Press/hold Favorite until it beeps a 2nd time and the light flashes.
3. Select Perm Press.
4. Select Hot wash temp.
5. Press Favorite again to save the settings.

Now you can run a hot wash whenever desired by selecting Favorite. Perm Press spins at either Low or Medium speed, so reset the load when finished for a spin-only at high speed if desired.

Also to clarify, if you aren't aware, there are five wash temperatures. The temp control is only for wash. Rinses are always cold. Warm/Cold (warm + cold lights) does not mean warm wash and cold rinse. It indicates a wash temp that's between warm and cold, about 95F. Likewise, Warm/Hot (warm + hot lights) is a wash temp that's warmer than warm but less than hot (assuming the household hot water supply is at least 120F).

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 8:53PM
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I have had a FP Ecosmart for ten years and have not noticed mold flecks.

However-- I always fill the center fabric-softener cup with white vinegar before each load. Mold thrives in an alkaline environment, so just this teeny bit of acid rinse will keep mildew from growing. Years ago I did have a problem with wet clothes getting musty when they sat in the washer for a day, but the vinegar rinse took care of the problem.

The vinegar leaves no scent, is nontoxic, and my clothes have not been affected by it.

If I noticed problems like big mold or gunk, I'd try Lemishine's Machine Cleaner. It's concentrated citric acid, I think, and will take care of any buildup or mold quickly.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lemishine Machine Cleaner

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 3:17PM
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