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    Facts & Solutions for Smelly Front Loading Washers

    I got a top loading clothes washer by Samsung a while back. I thought I was doing a great thing for the environment by choosing high efficiency. I also thought I’d be getting nice, fresh smelling clothes. Instead I find myself fighting a disgusting mildew odor and wishing I’d seen the articles about the thousands of consumers suffering from the same problem across many brands.

    There are on-going class action lawsuits about this issue, but if you want clean smelling clothes now, you need to know why the musty smell is happening and how to fix it.

    Mold is the problem here. Front loaders are much more tightly sealed machines than your old top loader since they need to be water-tight in front. That additional seal means that the washer is holding in any resideual washer after your load is done. This creates a perfectly moist mold breeding ground. Water tends to gather in the gasket right around the door of front loaders.

    So what can you do? Your first order of business is getting rid of existing mold. You can probably fight it off as easily as you’d do a load of wash. Run an empty washer with enough Borax for a full load and hot water. You can substitute a gallon of bleach if you want to to bring out the big guns.

    If that doesn’t do it, you’re going to have to get more in-depth and actually scrub out the trapped mold. First, wipe down the door gasket with a rag. Use a toothbrush if you need to get all along the edges, nooks and crannies. Then clean under your detergent dispenser which can trap a surprising amount of residue.

    Mold can also become a problem behind the drum or due to partial clogs. For these issues, you’re probably going to want a qualified repair person to come and take a look since they involve some dis-assembly of the machine.

    Lastly, we come to prevention and maintenance.

    Keep the machine dry after you wash. This is as easy as leaving the door ajar after you do your laundry. If you have young children in the house, latch the laundry room to keep them from getting into the open machine. You can also give the machine a quick towel dry after each load.

    Be careful with your detergent. Only use HE detergents, and don’t over-pour. Too much detergent leads to gunky build-up that holds in more moisture and muck. If you have a choice between liquid or powder detergents, the powder is the better choice for avoiding residue.

    Liquid fabric softener will also contribute to the problem since its oils build up over time. Consider adding white vinegar to every wash instead. It will naturally soften fabrics while helping to prevent mold. Then use a dryer sheet or dryer balls for additional softening.

    You’re also going to want to do monthly empty loads with hot water and bleach or Borax. This will maintain the cleanliness of the machine.


    If you’re interested in more info about the class action lawsuits going on due to moldy front loading machines, here are some resources:

    An article summarizing some of the news

    Lawyers looking for affected consumers

    A list of 3 Brands and the models involved in lawsuits

    A news round up by Consumerist

    A response from washing machine companies to lawsuits explaining their side of things


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