Front-loading washing machines provide more energy and water-efficient washing, saving you money and reducing the environmental impact of doing laundry. However, front-loaders are also more prone to unpleasant mildew and mold odors than their top-loading cousins. A few maintenance tricks can help you remove the odor from your washing machine and prevent the problem from recurring.
According to the "Herald-Tribune," water and the remnants of detergent and soil from washing can build up in the cavity around the washing drum, as well as the door seal on front-loading washers. If not removed, this material encourages mold and mildew growth, eventually producing an unpleasant smell that can spread to clothing.
Regular maintenance can keep a front-loading washer from developing mold problems. "Consumer Reports" recommends washing clothing in hot or warm water to reduce detergent buildup, and wiping the door glass and gasket dry after each load. Leave washer doors open whenever possible. Once or twice each month, clean all attachments and dispensers. In homes with a humid laundry room, extra ventilation or a dehumidifier can reduce mold growth. Using the correct detergent can help, too; front-loading washers require a special low-suds, high-efficiency detergent to prevent residue on clothes and on the inside of the machine.
Some washing machine models are more prone to mold growth than others. According to "Consumer Reports," washer design problems spurred multi-state class-action lawsuits against Whirlpool and LG electronics in 2009. Owners of the models named in these suits may have trouble keeping mold populations low and may need to choose a different type of front-loading washer.
Even washers without mold buildup can produce odors in clothing. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension recommends removing clean, wet laundry from the washing machine as soon as possible after washing. Dry in an electric or gas dryer, or outside on a clothesline to prevent bacteria or mold from establishing a colony and producing unpleasant odors. If clothes are allowed to mildew, the smell could persist even after drying.
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension; A Clean Home is a Healthy Home; Lorene Bartos; July 2008
- "Consumer Reports"; Mold Can be a Problem for Some Front-Loading Washers; Ed Perratore; August 28, 2008
- "Herald-Tribune"; Ridding a Front-Loader of That Musty Smell; Katherine Salant; October 20, 2007
- "Consumer Reports"; Mold and Odor Issues for Some Front-Loading Washing Machines Spur Class Actions; Ed Perratore; December 10, 2009
- Photo Credit Martin Poole/Lifesize/Getty Images
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