Odor Problems With Front-Loading Washers

Front-loading washers have become the top choice for most shoppers today for a number of reasons, the most popular being their energy-efficiency.

If you purchased a front-loading washing machine and started using it without reading the owner’s manual or my previous post,  you might soon be experiencing problems with odor.

Because of the design of these types of washers, they use a lot less water than a top loader, and when the wash cycle has completed, a small amount of water (along with detergent/fabric softener residue) is usually left behind. If the tub is not allowed to dry out completely, mold and mildew may start to form.

Mold can irritate eyes, lungs and nasal passages and complicate health problems such as asthma, so it is very important to eliminate bacteria that may be in your washer and to prevent it from returning.

Here are some tips to get rid of the washer's odor and keep it away:

If your front-load washer is still under warranty, contact the manufacturer for repair. If you were not instructed on how to care for it, or if there were not care instructions in the owner’s manual, you may want to push for a replacement.

Clean the most mold-prone areas such as the rubber gasket around the door (completely, especially underneath) and the drain pump and filter screen. It can be a little tricky to get to that filter screen so check the owner’s manual or assembly instructions. Many have found the culprit in this hidden area. Also, it may be necessary to replace the rubber gasket if it is too badly infected.

Run a cycle using a ½ cup of bleach (through the detergent dispenser and hot water (no clothes), or if your machine has a cleaning cycle then use it according to the directions.

Use a cleanser like Affresh High Efficiency Washer Cleaner (you may have do it 2 to 3 times if there is a significant problem.)

Wipe the inside of the door and seal dry and always leave the door open so that the tub dries out completely.

Only use HE (high efficiency) detergents, because they produce less suds, leaving less residue. They are easy to find – just look for the “HE” on the front of the bottle, most brands carry both kinds. The homemade detergent I use is also a low sudsing detergent.

Stay away from liquid fabric softeners, unless you are using something like Seventh Generation, or any plant/vinegar-based fabric softener. Dryer sheets are also your other option.

Even though it is more energy efficient to use cold water, try to use hot water on occasion (of course only on items that can take it). This will help to flush out any residue build-up.