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Kenmore Elite HE3 front loading washer complaints
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rsbrax Posted: Jun 28 '09,  1:26 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: Jun 28, 2009

Post: 229268
Kenmore HE3 Elite

I purchased the Kenmore HE3 Elite washer in 2003.
Until recently I did not notice the mildew smell. However, a few weeks ago the smell was really bad. I discovered a build-up of soap scum and mold inside the fold of the rubber boot.

I went to "work" with some rags, sponges, a bucket of diluted clorox/soap mixture and some rubber gloves.
Afterwards, the smell was much improved but still noticeable.
I also followed instructions indicated in previous email to remove panel to check the drain filter. It had a coating of soap scum and mildew which I wiped out with paper towels. (You can remove a fastener to free up the drain filter and pour the water into a shallow pan.)

Later I ran a cycle using "Washer Magic". With that, the situation is now very much improved with little or no mildew odor.

When the panel was off, I "saw" a highly engineered piece of equipment. But I wondered about the problems of mildew. I think the mildew issue may be more complex than a bad or careless design. The build-up of soap scum would create an environment conducive to mold. I also remembered that I only used powdered detergent the first 3 years. As a result, I intend to use no more than 1 oz of liquid HE detergent and switch back to using mostly powdered detergent. Also, its recommended to use "Washer Magic" or Affresh monthly. Also wiping down the rubber boot after washing is good.
I don't want to waste time with a lawsuit over the mildew issue. I have not had any staining of clothes so that may be an entirely different issue.

anniejeans Posted: Jul 21 '09,  5:03 am           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: Jul 21, 2009

Post: 231029
RE: grey spots

Hello, I have the same grey spots issue and it has been going on for quite sometime. Many of our white tee-shirts have large grey spots all over them. This has been going on for years. We now own an HE Bosch front load washer, and the spots keep appearing.... Every year we visit my mother-in-law in Germany (home of the high efficiency, front-load washers) and her whites never come out so tainted as mine--and her water is hard, as hard as my Pittsburgh water! I love the German laundry products- many are similar (not the same) to American products but they seem to be more specific rather than all-encompassing cleaners.
My hunch is this: The greying is a hard water issue and I am now wondering if it would be helpful to add water softener (something like Calgon) to each wash.
As for the grey spots I am wondering if it is a lost cause--ruined whites-- or is there a remedy out there for this frustrating problem? If hard water is an issue, then appliance manufacturers must advise consumers of the peril...

dfhayz Posted: Jul 29 '09,  5:51 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: Jul 29, 2009

Post: 231862
HE3, leaking, rotton egg smell

I've noticed a number of posts in here about the tub refilling and the rotten egg and sewer gas smell.

I had the bad smell problem with my HE3 unit and discovered that I had incorrectly installed the drain hose in the drain trap behind the washer.

If you recall the old-style washer drain hoses were made of molded rubber and they couldn't be inserted too far into the trap. The drain hose in my HE3 is a flexible tube with a plastic hook shaped hanger to form the hose into the correct shape. I had not attached the hose to the hanger correctly and the hose end went all the way to the bottom of the wall trap. This caused a siphon in the hose that emptied the trap of water back into the washer. Thia was allowing sewer gas to enter the room through the dry trap. This would also be a cause of the drum refilling with water, especially in basement installations which would be the lowest point in the system.

It would be great if someone could check the drain hose on their problem unit to see if this indeed is causing problems with foul odors and the drum refilling in this series of washers.

pvreditor Posted: Jul 29 '09,  7:32 pm (Updated: Aug 12 '09,  6:34 am)           Reply
Reviews written: 427
Member since: May 31, 2002

moderator in Cars, Musical Equipment, Home & Garden
Post: 231874
RE: HE3, leaking, rotten egg smell

Quote: dfhayz
I've noticed a number of posts in here about the tub refilling and the rotten egg and sewer gas smell.

I had the bad smell problem with my HE3 unit and discovered that I had incorrectly installed the drain hose in the drain trap behind the washer.

Thank you for this information. You just may have saved an unnecessary and inconvenient service call for some people. Excellent!

hartless Posted: Aug 11 '09,  7:39 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: Aug 11, 2009

Post: 233203
RE: Kenmore Elite HE3 front loading washer complaints

OH MY!! I have been experiencing the same thing! I have called repairman after repair man and nothing has come out of it yet! So i have Sears scheduled to come out Friday and hope they can tell me something. What happened with yours? Mine is no longer under warranty.

jjlyons Posted: Aug 13 '09,  7:23 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: Aug 13, 2009

Post: 233410
Kenmore Elite

I wish I would have read this site before I purchased my washer. I thought I was doing something wrong in regards to my laundry but after reading this it's clear the machine is the cause of my smelly towels, small holes in clothes and the grey splatters on every white item of clothing my family of five owns. I'm very disappointed with this product.

keysers Posted: Aug 25 '09,  2:24 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: Aug 25, 2009

Post: 234426
How do you fix it?

I had the same problem with the clothes that smelled like they were sitting in a bucket of dirty water. Service came out never heard anything like that and there was nothing wrong with the machine. I also had error codes prior to this. I have been getting water puddles in my laundry when not washing clothes. Now I'm getting an F35 or a SUD code and can't do anything with the machine except open the trap and dump stinky water everywhere. Does anyone like this machine?

gerheif Posted: Sep 02 '09,  11:10 am           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: Sep 2, 2009

Post: 235327
RE: HE3, leaking, rotton egg smell


Yes, exactly....stinky rotten egg or sewer water smell starting early in the summer and now EVERY time I do wash. What exactly did you do to solve your problem? I can't run a hot water vinegar wash EVERY time prior to when I need to do wash and then in between each load !! Please let us know your outcome.

Thanks !!

blumenfeld Posted: Sep 08 '09,  8:37 am           Reply
Reviews written: 4
Member since: Jan 5, 2004

Post: 235903
Kenmore Elite HE3t- clothes grab in gasket and become shredded

Having owned a Whirlpool front load washer, purchased from Sears, for 7 years, we went straight back to them for the purchase of our new unit when that one died. We chose a Kenmore Elite HE3t matching pair in 4/09. Within weeks of delivery, a soft-sided child's lunch box (a Land's End product) was sent through the wash and became snagged between the front door gasket and the stainless steel tub. Needless to say, the wash/rinse/spin cycles turned the lunch bag into a twisted, shredded mess. We believed that it was a fluke, as we'd been washing these lunch bags in the OLD unit for 7 years without incident. The space where the gasket meets the basket continues to snag items (usually heavier, bulkier items such as jeans, small toss pillows, throw rugs, soft-sided lunch boxes), chewing them up into an unusable mess.

A call into Sears service, along with the backing of an extended warranty has me HOPING that they'll follow through on modifying this OBVIOUS design flaw in this model. Please, chime in if you're experiencing this type of laundry destruction. More feedback + more consumers = better problem resolution. Looking forward to posting the next chapter in this saga...

am2950 Posted: Sep 12 '09,  9:03 am           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: Sep 12, 2009

Post: 236329
RE: HE3, leaking, rotton egg smell

I just had a very knowledgable Sears repairman here and asked about this smell problem. He suggested putting 2 cups of diswasher detergent (powder type only so it will leave a residue in the machine) inside the washer drum. Run it on "hot white" cycle. He said to do this once per month to prevent the smell from coming back. Hope this helps.

cookingmama Posted: Sep 22 '09,  7:14 am (Updated: Sep 25 '09,  8:40 am)           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: Sep 22, 2009

Post: 237527
RE: Kennmore HE3

I just thought I would go online and see if I am the only one with this problem, and I am not. This is unbelievable. I have been downplaying my problem since I found it, with regret. Mold is a serious issue.

Has anyone REALLY gotten anywhere with their mold problems in their Kenmore He front loading washers? I can't seem to get rid of it not matter what I do. Since a week after getting our machine I have ALWAYS left the door open. It smelled funny when I would open it, so I thought I would always leave it open and let it dry out. After a wash once(WELL over a year ago - I actually lost track of when exactly) I saw a black piece of crud on the rubber. I investigated the machine, pulled back the rubber and found a VERY LARGE AMOUNT of spots and sludge and crud all over the rubber, top and bottom. Since then I have done a number of things: ran the special cycle (never knew about before) at least 5 times in a row with 1 c. bleach; tried Affresh 3 times in a row; ran the clean cycle a couple times/month to help more from accumulating; stopped using fabric softener; sprayed the whole seal (incl underneath when I pull it back) with Rubbermaid Commercial Mold and Mildew remover, let it sit for 5 minutes, ran another cleaner cycle, repeated steps. Mold still there. Or I should say, the stains are there and mold grows back within days or less. Yes, mold grows fast. The seal (underneath - when you pull it back) just doesn't allow air in for it to dry out between washes. I have my machines on the top floor of our 2 story house - up where the bedrooms are. There are 2 windows in the laundry room. Plenty of air circulation. There are about 2 days in between my washes for my family of 4.

The few things I haven't tried and will: powder detergent, Tilex Mold Bathroom cleaner spray, Whirlout, Borax, and lastly smellywasher.com. I will try these for sure, but I have to say I am not optimistic. And I shouldn't have to run a special cleaner cycle with bleach after EVERY wash should I? That just isn't right and I am afraid that will wear away at the rubber and so much for water efficiency then. And Affresh is really expensive to run after EVERY cycle. Has anyone really rid of their mold? What REALLY worked? I had a top loader before and wish I still had it. Never a single problem.

If anyone else has these problems please see this website:


I would honestly like to say "Yes, we can clean our washers regularly and rid of the problem rather than sueing or complaining." My husband knows I hate dealing with stuff like this and would normally let it go and deal with it on my own. I don't have the time to complain. I love Sears Kenmore - every single applicance in the house we built is Kenmore. I tend to give people/companies the benefit of the doubt. But I am run down here now on this. I have been trying and dealing with it for too long and not getting anywhere. If bleach isn't getting rid of it, what will? I just have to say that the design of this washer seems to make it impossible to keep clean! I am concerned about the safety of my family and everyone elses! Help!

cookingmama Posted: Sep 25 '09,  7:36 am           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: Sep 22, 2009

Post: 237857
update on the steps I took (above)

I've done everything that I mentioned about EXCEPT Smellywasher (I am waiting to receive it). In the last few days I have noticed some things. When I run the special Clean cycle on the machine it uses only COLD water. The nice thing about the clean cycle is that it seems to push water under the huge rubber lip that is below the drum lip. So, it is the ONLY cycle where water is washed thru that part of the rubber. However, it only uses cold water which is a VERY inefficient cleaning temperature. And you CANNOT change the temp of the special clean cycle. You press a series of buttons listed in the manual and that is what starts the cycle. I ran 3 clean cycles in a row with Borax and then 1 hot cycle. Sprayed with Tilex mold killer 5 times (let it sit 1 hour twice), and ran a clean cycle with Cascade dish powder detergent. Slowly, my enormous black mold spots are fading. However, the other thing I noticed after all these cleaning cycles (keep in mind, I have been running the monthly clean cycles with bleach and keeping the door open after EVERY wash since shortly after owning the machine, I've owned the machine for 3 1/2 yrs now) is that on the outer side of the drum, there is a THICK film of dark grey gunk. It is very difficult to get my small fingers up and around to touch the outside of the drum, so I used a q-tip and wiped a 1/2 inch area and it came out caked with gunk. I cannot believe this - that after all these recent clean cycles I've put the machine thru in the last 3 days PLUS the monthly maintainence I have always done, there is still gunk, not only on my rubber (i realize once mold is on rubber it's hard to get it off) but also on my stainless steal drum. Bleach doesn't work, Cascade powder doesn't, Borax doesn't (although, borax helped the smell on my towels at least) spraying with Tilex Mold bathroom cleaner doesn't work. I checked my drain hose - installed properly, going downward from the machine. Hopefully smellywasher will do the job. I will run it with both the clean cycle and a regular wash cycle with hot water at LEAST 3 times each. Let's hope my septic doesn't overflow with all this washing.

radjul Posted: Sep 28 '09,  5:37 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: Sep 28, 2009

Post: 238212
RE: HE3 Model Problem

Well I hate to be so negative but..... my HE3 is now 5 years old... We have had the computer replaced,a drain clog, water showing up in the machine when it isn't on (which is a bad intake valve on the machine) and the lovely mess when you unknowingly open the door. We have had $4500 worth of damage to the floor and bathroom below... do to that intake valve thing which I didn't have a clue about and it took months to figure out the leak. For the past year our clothes don't smell as fresh, I have run the bleach load on hot , I use kid And Pet with our wash (this has worked the best) but, adds to expense of every load. I leave door and tray open and I don't use softner! I have never spent so much money on a washer and dryer... and I don't believe I have saved much in water, energy,and soap compared with the cost of the HE3. Never again will I buy a front loader... look nice ,concept nice, but, too expensive and troublesome. Sears should help us out and stand by their machines. Let me know if you all get involved in a class action. Julie

biguggy Posted: Sep 30 '09,  12:34 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: Sep 30, 2009

Post: 238454
Possible solution but not popular

Aluminium (Al) is corroded by sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) otherwise known as 'bleach'. Not only does it corrode aluminium components, and I believe your machine may well have an aluminium spider fitted between the drum and the drive pulley, but I believe that these products of corrosion smell. We have a Kenmore, Frigidaire built front loader which my wife was complaining smelt of, and left a mouldy smell on our laundry, particularly towels.
I very recently had to strip the machine down because of bearing failure, found my spider coated with what looked like powdered detergent that had got damp and 'clumped'. This deposit significantly resisted flushing off with water but was satisfactorily dealt with by my pressure washer.
The washer is now back together and working satisfactorily, without, so my wife says any moldy smell.
The only thing different now is that the 'deposit' has been removed. I know I replaced the spider and drum, you can't buy them separately, another Rip-Off, but they are of the same materials as the ones removed. Draw your own conclusion and verify any other laundry products that you use do not contain chemicals that are corrosive to aluminum.
I found a popular brand of a 'laundry aid', in our home, that contains sodium carbonate and sodium percarbonate which, according to the Material Data Sheets available through the internet, are also corrosive aluminium.
Since I started my repair I have found a couple of 'posts' where people actually stripped down their washers to remove their 'mold' and smell and report satisfactory results. I believe that they will be disappointed and that their 'mould' and smell will return unless they alter their laundry practices. Not, I would guess, a popular suggestion.

biguggy Posted: Sep 30 '09,  6:53 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: Sep 30, 2009

Post: 238500
Reply to cookingmama

Sorry I am not used to this yet I thought my reply would automatically go to where I pressed the 'reply' key.
Sorry again.

pvreditor Posted: Sep 30 '09,  6:59 pm (Updated: Oct 01 '09,  6:55 am)           Reply
Reviews written: 427
Member since: May 31, 2002

moderator in Cars, Musical Equipment, Home & Garden
Post: 238501
RE: Reply to cookingmama

Quote: biguggy
Sorry I am not used to this yet I thought my reply would automatically go to where I pressed the 'reply' key.
Sorry again.

No problem. However, when you want to reply to a specific post, click on the "Quote" link for that post. That will quote the post to which you are replying, making the discussion more understandable.

No problem with what you've already done, though.

benbil Posted: Oct 02 '09,  12:23 am (Updated: Oct 02 '09,  12:35 am)           Reply
Reviews written: 1
Member since: Jul 25, 2006

Post: 238620
Mold Remediation

I am by no means defending the many problems with the expensive Kenmore HE series washers but I would like to point out that BLEACH IS NOT AN EFFECTIVE NOR RECOMMENDED TREATMENT FOR MOLD. There are tons of sites including the EPA that have attempted to dispel this myth but because bleach does mitigate the visual appearance and mask the odor, people still continue to waste their time and damage their health in using this as a treatment. As proof, look at any Professional products used for mold treatment and not one uses chlorine bleach in any concentration. Two safe and effective alternatives are sodium carbonate and peroxide. Although, the professionals use higher concentrations, I would rather pour a $1 bottle of hydrogen peroxide in my washer at the end of the wash day as an alternative to wasting bottles of diluted bleach in the washing machine which is ineffective and dangerous to people and the environment.

BTW, I may be mistaken but I think that OxyClean is actually a powdered version of hydrogen peroxide and used as a laundry booster, it may well help to mitigate some of these problems. As evidence...of all the problems that I have had with my HE3t, mold and smell was not one of them and I live in humid Florida. I use only Kirkland HE liquid detergent from Costco (great stuff) and I almost always use OxyClean (instead of bleach) in the tub with the light colored clothes and never leave the door open with no mold or smell problems at all. Thus, I would recommend that people with this mold/smell problem use a marker on your dispenser cup at half the recommended amount so your reminded to use less detergent and instead add a little supplemental booster cleaner like Borax (for hard water) and/or OxyClean to double it's effectiveness without excess suds. It works well for me and an additional benefit is that my rubber liner is in good shape and not degraded by the effects of harsh bleach on rubber. Also, remember to use less detergent with cold water as it doesn't have the ability to dissolve as much nor as well as hot or warm water.

Even though I'm mold/smell free, I will still take some good advice I got from someone on these blogs and manually clean inside the rubber lining with some electronic dishwasher (enzymes) powder then run the load on sanitary for an annual maintenance cleaning. Even without any smell, I have noticed that the "gasket" area is a collection receptacle for some residue that doesn't necessarily get drained during the rinse cycle. For some, it may be where clumps of moldy undissolved powdered detergent is hiding.

cookingmama Posted: Oct 02 '09,  6:30 am (Updated: Oct 02 '09,  6:33 am)           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: Sep 22, 2009

Post: 238628
RE: Mold Remediation

Thanks for the info! Now I have a few other things to try out. Can't believe how much work this is! My old top-loader was so much easier. Never a problem in 9 years. But the high capacity of these front loaders and other perks were so attractive at the time when we bought them. We were building our house then and we designed our laundry room around these machines and decided to stack them. Anyways, I got the smellywasher stuff and have done numerous loads (10+) with it. My towels are great now and the washer no longer smells, but the mold or mold stains are still all there, only a couple are fading. I heard from a friend that it took a month for it to clear up and they used it twice a week for that whole month. We'll see. Meanwhile, I have been diagnosed with asthma. Nobody else in my extended family has asthma and I am middle-age. I have always only used 1-2T liquid HE detergent. I learned thru research last week that I should be using powder. So I switched to that. And ONLY dryer sheets for fabric softener. I occasionally have used Oxy and will use more often now - thx. I always used to wash in cold water. I am going to use warm water now whenever I can. And I am never using bleach again. It's interesting how that is what is recommended in the manual. Dear, oh dear. So many things I never thought would have mattered...and really it doesn't seem like they should matter. This is just stuff we shouldn't have to be dealing with. Most importantly, worrying about additional medical conditions occurring in my family. I did report this machine to the CPSC (for recalls) and at the time I wasn't yet diagnosed. When I get the report in the mail for adjustments I will be editing that portion. Everyone with a moldy machine should be reporting it to the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission)! It only takes 5 minutes to call them! And the class action I mentioned above only takes 2 min to fill out the form online.

tarahenry Posted: Nov 04 '09,  12:52 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: Nov 4, 2009

Post: 241619
HE3 washers

WOW- I've been reading through 2 years of comments about Kenmore HE3 washers. We just bought a house that came with one and thought we had a great problem. Til I noticed the stink and it stopped working with an error reading of dlF flashing! AFter reading through, I went with my old standby solution of flipping the breaker and it worked. But, I think I'll try a few of the suggestions for the smell. Apparently there is a class action lawsuit against Sears for these machines. The info is on You tube - I haven't had a chance to sign up.

heather4walls Posted: Nov 23 '09,  6:50 pm           Reply
Reviews written: 0
Member since: Nov 23, 2009

Post: 243213
HE3t washer rubber seal

I have seen a lot of posts on error codes. Has anyone has anyone else had any problems with the door rubber seal. Mine has twisted itself off the door, even wrapped itself around my clothes wrecking 2 shirts! Water was all over my floor. I called several repair people and was told not to bother fixing it, it is fixable but more than likely I will find even more problems and continue to dump endless money into this thing! Has anyone had this same problem and tried fixing it?

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