Mold and your washing machine


Lately in the news,  we have been hearing more and more about the dreaded “M” word for front loading laundry.   MOLD.  Quite honestly the way the media outlets have been reporting on this issue seems one sided.   Our stance is not to defend the manufacturers or to sugar coat the existence – but to present the facts that could help users understand what is going on. -Do not worry – this is not an article to sell one brand over the other.

“Musty,” “Damp,” and “Horrible Smell” are just  a few descriptors that come time mind.  Why does mold form in the front load machines? Is it really just front load machines that are affected?  Mold will form in damp dark places with little to no air flow in the matter of roughly 12-48 hours.  (There are other variables to determine this, so we will keep it simple) it is not just front load machines that are affected.  Top load machines have an inner tub that collects water and may present an environment for mold growth.  You tend not to smell it as much as it is not as air tight like a front loader washer.

Although with great advances from the “Maytag Neptune” era (class action law suit because of mold issues) about 12 years ago – it is still likely to have mold form in your washer if you are not careful.  More so than top loaders.   It is VERY tough to compare the two types of machines.  We are talking about two different wash styles and more maintenance is needed for front loaders.  What does this mean?

This means the purchaser should understand the appliance he or she is about to get.  Let’s not assume we just throw clothes in the washer once a week or even 3 times a week and be all done.  That would be nice because most laundry doers  have been doing this for years. What is it exactly that we need to understand about front loaders? Due to the nature of the wash system- it is a closed basket.  meaning very little air flow.  Some washers have now integrated air vents to help move air naturally.  Added maintenance to your laundry routine is needed.

“This sounds horrible, I need to do my laundry quickly!”  This mind set will have to bend a little bit as two extra steps are needed when dealing with a front load machine.  Just like when finished with a dryer- one empties the lint filter to prevent reduced air flow and dryer fires.  Now with a front loading machine one needs to quickly wipe down the door gasket on the machine with a rag or cloth (just to remove excess moisture) and if possible leave the door open, at least partially if not fully open.  These are specified in all the use and care guides for the machines. (that nobody cares to read- well 90% of the people)  Also, like any style washing machine, periodic cleaning is needed.  You can do so with cleaning tabs on the hottest cycle of the washer. (possibly once or twice a year)

There are few more factors that play into the smelly or mold scenario for any style washing machine.  Soap for one can attribute to a bad odor.  Do not use too much!  Make sure to use HE (High-Efficiency) soap when needed or specified.  With HE soap you will only need to use 1/2 or 1/3 of the recommended amount.  Remember, the soap companies want to stay in business and get your money faster- go easy on the soap. (Here is a neat trick- if you have a front loader with a window- try using NO SOAP on a wash- look at all the suds!) Well water and its minerals may be reacting with your soap and machine- use additives like Borax or Oxi-Clean to help wash away unwanted minerals and deposits from inside the machine.  One last scenario we have run into here at Page Hardware is that some drain lines in older homes are too small or installed in such a manner that the washer is trying too hard to push the water out, and not all of the dirty water is evacuated.

In conclusion front loading machines wash differently than top loaders.  There is a new set of expectations that need to be acquired if you want a larger capacity, cleaner clothes done faster and with less water than top loading machines.  Don’t run your machine once a week and expect no smell or mold to form.  It’s simple biology.  There are ways to avoid it and clean the machines.  This article is about the CHANCE of the mold to form- we do have plenty of customers that are now well over 5 years from 3 loads a day every day to once or twice a week with NO MOLD, NO SMELL.  So there is light at the end of the tunnel- do not let other reviews of those who do not understand or follow instructions to sway the decision to purchase a front loader.

2 responses to “Mold and your washing machine

  1. We recommend a watered down solution of bleach – usually 50/50 mix works well. Bleach is the only thing that will remove and kill mold. If you were to use a stronger concentration, make sure to rinse well and run a quick cycle on the washer to prevent any kind of contact of left over bleach.

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