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Discover India Hicks

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Discover India Hicks

Question: How do I get rid of the unpleasant smell in my washing machine?

Over the past five years, front loading washing machines have gained some serious momentum in the United States. They are designed for high efficiency operation while using low energy. Although a great eco-friendly concept, there is a down side to this energy-saving washer model - mold & mildew build-up and unpleasant odors. Once present, these issues can be quite difficult to resolve.

After my laundry post, a reader asked how to get rid of that moldy smell emitting from her washer. If you have a front loader, you too may be experiencing the same thing. Before I give you the mold prevention tips, I think it's first important to identify the source of the problem. Unfortunately the main source of the problem is most likely your washing habits. Do you leave wet loads sitting overnight? How full do you pack your washer? Do you always shut the door? Do you run a cleaning cycle? A musty smell is caused by a build-up of interior mold. Mold that can be prevented if you're willing to change up your washing routine.

Solutions to prevent mold and mildew:

1) Switch to using only an HE (high efficiency) detergent. In doing my research most would agree POWDER is best. Standard detergent produces more suds than high efficiency detergents, and suds decrease the efficacy of the washer's drainage system. This creates the humid environment mold needs.

2) Use less than the recommended detergent level for your load and do not overload your washer. Too much detergent can cause a residue build-up. Experiment until you find a minimum measurement that delivers a clean wash. This is also a money saver.


3) Stop using liquid fabric softener and switch to fabric softener sheets in the dryer. Liquid fabric softener leaves a residue on which odor-causing mold and mildew may grow; sheets do not.

4) Occasionally wash some loads such as whites, linen and towels in hot water to help flush out wash residue. The warm water kills off the bacteria.

5) Clean out the basin and rubber seal. First wipe the inside of the washer, especially the area where the door seals to the inside. Mold can collect around the insides and folds of the rubber seals. Get in there and make sure you cleaned it all. You could use bleach, Simple Green, Vinegar or Pinesol. Make sure to pull back the gasket/rubber seal just inside the door opening and remove any visible debris. Last week I found a disgusting black, gooey layer that had built-up in no time along with a lost sock and clumps of hair. Eww.

6) Leave the door and dispenser slightly ajar between wash loads. This will decrease the mold build-up as it allows the tub to dry completely. The increased air circulation will help to dispel humid air in the washer cavity.

7) Remove clothing as soon as the washing cycle is finished. NEVER leave a wet load overnight as this is a breeding ground for mold.

8) If you notice a pool of water inside the basin after you take out the wet load, use a rag or paper towel to soak up any left over water. The washer's horizontal-oriented wash tub has a tendency to leave water within the appliance.

9) Run the front-loading washer's self-cleaning cycle, if the washer model includes this feature, every four weeks. The cleaning cycle circulates hot water through the washer's system and helps clean its tubing and drainage outlets, where material that can contribute to odors collects.

10) If washer does not have a self-cleaning cycle, use vinegar to clean the washer every four weeks or sooner. Add 2 to 3 cups of plain white vinegar to your washer's dispenser cup. Run a hot water cycle. The white vinegar sterilizes and cleans the washer, neutralizing odors along the way.

*NOTE: IF YOU FOLLOW THESE STEPS, IT WILL TAKE 2-3 WASHINGS TO TOTALLY RID THE WASHER OF THIS MUSTY SMELL.

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