An ODOR problem with your front loading washer???

Oct 23, 2008 (Updated Oct 29, 2008)

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The Bottom Line When it comes to detergent and fabric softener - more is NOT better.

There is a problem with Front Load Washers;

In the last 6 months I have read report after report of people complaining about ‘smell’ in their front load washers.

I found this very confusing and quite puzzling. For every person who complained, I found 10 people who had no problem. There appears to be no manufacturer immune from the problem. Yet, I haven’t seen any difference in ‘frequency’ from one manufacturer to another.

As I continued my research. Some things became apparent.

Mold, or mildew, is a ‘life form’.

It’s existence is a fact of life, on this planet.

In order for it to grow, all it needs is a ‘habitat’.

It likes ‘moist’ and it likes ‘dark’

If you throw a bunch of wet towels down the laundry chute on Sunday,..

,…they’re going to be a smelly mess, by Friday.

So, why don’t ALL of these washers have the problem?

Every one of them provides the right ‘habitat’

Leaving the door open, clearly helps, but it doesn’t stop it,..

Why not?

Lots of people leave the lid down on their ‘top loaders’

Yet, mildew doesn’t tend to build up there,…

Why not?


As a ‘life form’ mildew needs more than a habitat,….

It also needs a ‘food source’.

Metal, glass and plastic don’t provide such a food source. Yet, reports indicate mold growing on the rubber seals. Yet, when wiped off, there does not appear to be any degradation, etching, drying, or cracking of the rubber by the growth of the mold. So the mold is not 'attacking' the rubber, it's growing ON IT.

When you wash dishes, plastic ware is one of the hardest things to clean. That’s because grease ‘cling’s to the plastic much ‘tighter’ than it does to glass or metal. This has to do with 'surface tension' and the fact that most 'plastics' are petroleum based products.

When you wash clothes, detergent combines with the dirt and 'body oils' and goes into ‘suspension’ in the water. As these greasy ‘solids’ come into contact with the ‘rubber’ seals, the grease ‘clings’ to the rubber.

When we use fabric softener, it's primary constituents are soap, olive oil, corn oil, and/or tallow oil. You can’t use a liquid fabric softener WITH the detergent because these oils will ‘precipitate’ out of solution. The bottom line - fabric softener is liquefied grease.

This isn’t so apparent with top loading machines because they use so much water the ‘scum’ or ‘solids’ are flushed out. Top loaders also don't provide a large rubber surface for mold to 'settle' on.

The front loaders don’t use that much liquid and these ‘solids’ cling to whatever surface they come in contact with and provide a veritable ‘banquet’ for mildew to attack.

I have a theory that people most sensitive to smells, are the ones who use the most detergent and fabric softener (they like the fragrance). As 'odor' begins to occur, they increase the amounts (thereby increasing the food supply, the worst possible thing they can do) These are also the people most offended by any type of 'foul' odor.

To help control the growth:

Use Bleach or a ‘cleaning agent’ to completely ‘scour’ the washer. Pay special attention to the rubber seal.

Rinse/flush it out thoroughly.

Use ONLY ‘High efficiency’ detergents

Use ONLY liquid detergents

Reduce the amount of detergent you use to 25% of the detergent manufactures recommended quantity

Yes, that’s right – DIVIDE BY 4

On particularly heavy soils you might increase that to one THIRD the recommended amount. (this is like a TEASPOON more)

Eliminate fabric softener in the washer,.. Try Dryer sheets for a while. (Try a couple of months without softener in the washer)

If your washer has a 'pump sump' or prefilter, clean it out regularly. (at least once every couple of weeks)

Leave the door open between loads.

If you still feel the need to use a liquid fabric softener - Use 1/6 the recommended quantity diluted in water. The best method is to pre-dilute the liquid with water to a ratio of 1 part softener to 6 parts water. Just remember, if you have an oder issue,.. Fabric Softener is NOT your friend!

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About the Author ID:
Member: John S
Location: Saint Louis, MO. USA
Reviews written: 21
Trusted by: 3 members
About Me: Retired civil service photographer, ex-store owner. current Taxi Driver.