Monday, September 28, 2009

Do You Have a Smelly Washer?

Before long, I am going to be in the market for a new washer and dryer.   I was thinking about purchasing one of  the front load (FL) models.  They are not only attractive but they are suppose to be much more energy efficient.
BH&G Laundry Room photo credit:  BetterHomes&
My husband and I went to Lowe’s to check them out.  Initially, I was thinking about GE or Samsung but the salesman cited mold problems with those, and several other brands. However, he raved about the Whirlpool Duet and said that’s what he and his wife have. My husband was ready to buy the Whirlpool set on the spot but I wanted to come home and do a little research.
Oh. My. Gosh.  After reading reviews, I am more confused than ever!    There seems to be so much conflicting information on  front loader washers.  People seem to either love them…or hate them with a passion.

elfa-laundry-area photo credit:

Complaints of mold issues seem to be rampant!  By far, mold appeared to be the #1 complaint with front load washers.   The Whirlpool Duet model that the salesman had pushed had far too many complaints about mold to make me want to rush out and spend my my husband’s hard earned money on this washer/dryer set!
It wasn’t just the Whirlpool brand though.  Every website I visited cited problems with mold growing on the door gasket and detergent dispenser, a pervasive moldy smell in clothes and towels—sometimes appearing only a few months after the machine was purchased.  There were also complaints from front load washer owners that they and/or their children had serious health issues related to the moldy smell in their homes and “clean” clothes etc.   I even found class action lawsuits have been filed against several of the leading manufacturers of  front loaders. 1 photo credit:
Some owners said they got little satisfaction when they complained to the companies who made their FL washers.  Reportedly, some companies refused to even acknowledge mold problems, claiming they had never had any  other complaints!  But if they did admit they knew about the problem, the FL washer owners reported the companies were quick to point the  finger  at the consumer for things like not using the special HE  (High Efficiency)  detergent, using too much detergent, or adding fabric softener…which is apparently a big no-no  for FL washers.
country laundry roomphoto credit:
Many FL washer owners reported they were given additional tips on how to reduce or eliminate the mold growth in their FL washers.  Some of those suggestions included leaving the washer door and the detergent dispenser open when the washer wasn’t in use, wiping the interior of the washer and the door gasket completely dry at the conclusion of  the last load, frequent hot water and bleach loads, and even the addition of washer cleaner products  specially formulated to eliminate the unpleasant moldy smell i.e., Affresh and Smelly Washer.   But it seems a large majority of  owners reported little or no success with these methods of preventing or dealing with the mold issues.  If they did help, oftentimes it was short-lived and the problem would quickly return.
katiesclosets photo source:
But I can’t help but wonder… if you have to frequently wash in hot water or run special hot water washes, keep re-washing clothes in an attempt to remove the moldy smell, replace towels that always reek of mold,  or add other products to keep the mold at bay, doesn’t that negate your savings on water and electricity?
Apparently nothing but  FL washers have been used in Europe for years, as well as many Laundromats here in the United States and  they don’t seem to have mold problems.  I wonder why that is?
Anyway, after researching front load washers available for home use here in the US,  and  reading all the negative comments and reviews, I am having SERIOUS second thoughts about purchasing ANY brand of front load washer.
Canadian home & garden
 photo source:  CanadianHome&
I would like to know what you think or know about front loading washers. 
Do you have a front load washer that you love…or hate? 
What brand and model is it? 
How long have you had it?
If you have had problems with mold or a moldy smell, how have you handled it?   
If you don’t own a FL, tell me the experiences your family,  friends and neighbors  have had with their  FL washers.
I’m all ears…



Pauline said...

Hi Shari. I've only ever used a front loading washer so can't compare it to the other kind. No mold problems. Will get gunky if not kept clean and dry after use, but that's just common sense. Mould on clothes? I don't know anyone who've ever experienced that problem! :o)
Hope this helps

Loui said...

Hi Shari..
I do not own a Front Loading washer, and after reading your post, probably will not ever.
My current washer, A Maytag, is a top loader and yes. it stinks. The washer came with the house when we purchased it, and the washer was fairly new.
It smells of mud!
My clothes come out clean, with no foul odors and I use a variety of affordable cleaners and bleaches, and use correct temp water for each load.
I have tried leaving the lid open, have sprayed Lysol disinfectant around under the tub rim, as well as Fabreeze..white vinegar..all to no avail. I simply have to live with it. I've always owned GE or Maytag washers in the past and never ever encountered this problem.
If a solution is found .. Please share!
♥ thanks from Denver

ceekay said...

I have a front loader and yes there is a smell in the washer...but it doesn't get into the clothes. I have used affresh but it doesn't last long.
I wish they would come up with a better solution, but I still love my front loaders!

Cara said...

My dd has one and loves it. She does many loads a day as she has 5 children. Her's is a Duet. I called and asked her about mold smell and she said she has never smelled mold from her's before. She always leaves the door ajar as well as the dispenser. Hope this helps. I am in the market for a new one in a few months and I will follow her suit and get the Duet! The man at Lowes said the newer models of the Duet washer has a new, different seal so that takes care of the problem

Gayle said...

Hi Shari,
I just went thru the same thing. We sold our washer/dryer when we sold our home so I was faced with getting a new one. About a year ago, my friend bought an Electrolux set with the front loading. She paid a mint and she's just so-so on them. I did a ton of research too, like you, and still came up with confusing information.
So, I decided to get a Maytag high effeciency set, but not front loaders. I purchased the Maytag BRAVOS series and got the dryer w/ steam. I'm thrilled with them.
It's got the window in the top of the washer and a full window in the dryer.
They are quiet, energy efficient and do an excellent job. The agitator is really low so nothing gets tangled up either.
I think the mold thing must have something to do with the front loading???
Anyway, I got my high effeciency like I was looking for, the convenience of the windows just not in a front loader.
Hope this helps!!
And I hope you're having a great day!

Miss Mustard Seed said...

I had a Kenmore front loading washer in my last home for 2 years. It was in our kitchen in a small townhouse, so it had to be quiet and it was almost silent! It worked great for me and I never had any mold issues. I did read a lot of bad reivews, but I've come to learn that you can find bad reviews on even the very best products. I think it's more important to buy from a company with a good customer service reputation.

Anonymous said...

I've had the Maytag Neptune for many years now and just love it. You must use the high efficiency detergents and fabric softeners. The front loaders use much less water and you don't have to use nearly as much HE detergents as the regular detergents. Never use the powder detergents, gunk up in the botten, which is where the smell comes from. Some detergents make tablets you can run through your washer to break down buildup. I use those a couple of times a year. We've changed out the rubber gasket around the door once becuase it started looking a little mildewy and I always keep the door open when not in use. I love mine and don't think I could ever go back to a regular washer.

Celeste Lux said...

I've had a Whirlpool duet washer and dryer for about 5 years now. I have the lower end model (not so many bells and whistles) and I love them. I have never, NEVER had a mold problem, operating problem, etc.. The unit never smells. I don't prop the door and dispenser open on the washer. I never use the recommended HE detergent, and in fact, use my own home made soap--no problem. We live in the country with hard well water. My whites are white, the laundry is always clean and sweet smelling. The unit is VERY energy efficient using very little water per load (I have a large capacity and I stuff it full for each load--two kids). I love my washer and would buy another if I was in the market. I highly recommend this style of washer. I think if you did enough research on a top load model, you would find just as many negative assessments of that style of washer. The only people that blog about their appliances seem to be the ones with bad experiences. Go with your gut and you'll be happy. Good luck!

Cindy said...

Hi Shari, A few years back I had a Frigidaire front load set. I loved it and I never had a mold problem, I didn't leave the door open and I used whatever detergent I found on sale. I would get another front load set if I could. I loved how quiet it was and it was so easy on my clothes. Hugs, Cindy S.

Debbie said...

Hi - my daughter has the front load Frigidaire set and she loves it. I also LOVE it. I am so in love with it, that is what I will buy when the time comes. Meanwhile, I have a Maytag set that is 15 years old and I have never had a moment's problem with it. I purchased it because of the commercial about the Maytag man having nothing to do, and it has held true for me. Good Luck!!

Whirlpool PR Team (Tim Mambort) said...

We noticed your recent discussion regarding “smelly washer odors” and wanted to weigh in with a few thoughts from the Whirlpool Institute of Fabric Science. All washers – no matter the make or model – have the potential for odor-causing residue to build up since high-efficiency (HE) models seal more tightly and use less water than traditional top loading machines. Odor can occur when residue from detergents, lint and soils accumulate in areas of the washer where water cannot easily rinse. As mentioned in your post, cleaning the washer every 30 days with a product such as the Affresh® washer cleaning kit, along with the suggested tips in the appliance’s Use & Care Guide, go a long way in helping all washers run at peak performance.

Hope this information was useful and if you wish to learn more check out or for more laundry know-how.

Pink Roses and Teacups said...


Seems like you have more pros than cons here. I also forgot to tell you my friend uses regular liquid detergent in hers also. Hope all of these comments help make up your mind. :)

Sandra~Romantique Inspirations~ said...

I never even heard of this, thanks so much for bringing it to my attention. I have an old washer and dryer and was thinking when the time comes I would love to have a front load washer and dryer. I guess I will be checking into this further when the times calls for it. You have shown some great laundry rooms, but my favorites would have to be the last two. I enjoy having a lot of space if I could in every room.


Jennifer said...

Dear Shari:

I own a house cleaning business. Most of my clients have front loading washers. They are very pretty. But not a single one of them has been completely happy with their purchase due to the mold and/or efficiency of soap distribution.

Also, NONE of them noticed HE type soaps being better. They are just more expensive detergents. The real solution for every one of them was just using the minimum required on the directions.

Hope this helps! Best wishes to you!!!

Anonymous said...

We have the Whirlpool Duet that we purchased in 2004. Yes, it does smell and I can't seem to find a way to fix this problem. I have always left the door open when not in use so that it does dry out. And oh my gosh, it will make your clothes stink if you forget and leave them in the washer for too long. It seems that this is becoming a bigger problem as the machine ages. I've had to throw out some fairly new hand & wash clothes recently.

I live in the south where it's very humid so I'm sure this doss not help the problem.

I just recently made the discovery of the prominent mold that collects in the rubber gaskget. I mean I knew it was there, but I didn't realize it was growing all the way around the gasket. I figured it was only in the lower portion.

I have noticed it getting worse in the past year. Our machine will be 6 years soon. I thought they might have changed out the way the gaskets were in the washer, but when I've checked at lowes or Homedeopt, it's still the same design.

I have sprinkled baking soda in the gasket area and in the drum, but this only seems to help a little bit. I recently took a bleach soaked washcloth and wiped the inter part of the gasket.

I hope this helps. If I had to do it again, I would buy the standard upright with the non agitator. That way you get the benefit of the front loader without the hassels.

The best part is just not having agitator. Not having one allows you to wash heavy items such a bedspread.

I hope this helps.....I'm falling asleep. Good luck.