Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Thought You Should Know

I try not to gripe too much on this blog, but this information is just too important not to share:

Never, ever, ever buy a front-loader washing machine.  Here is what is required to avoid your clothes smelling like mildew:

  1. You must never allow the clothes to sit in the washer for more than an hour or so after the cycle finishes. (You mean I have to sit at home while my laundry is going as if I were at a laundromat?  Sorry, but my clothes routinely sit in the washer for a full day.  Or, at least, they used to when I had that crappy old top-loader.  Now I am a slave to laundry.)

  2. You must leave the door open when the washer is not in use. (Not a big problem for us because we have a dedicated laundry room in the basement, but even in the basement, I know the door is open and that BOTHERS me.  And how long do you think it will take before the cat decides that the washer is a nice place to sleep?)

  3. You must wipe out the door seal, soaking up any excess water with a towel, after each load.  (More work, yay!)

  4. You must occasionally (some say daily!) run a sanitize cycle with bleach and then do a load of white towels.  (I guess I need to go to Bed Bath and Beyond to get some white towels.  Oh, and bleach.  Who uses bleach?)

  5. You must buy a special, expensive product to clean the mildew out of your washer.

  6. You must clean the inside of the washer tub with bleach periodically.

  7. You must check to see if there are any other places that trap water on your particular machine, clean them regularly with bleach, and find a way to air them out.

Don't believe me?  Feel free to waste an hour of your life like I had to, reading this stuff.

Full disclosure:  I was able to kill the smell with just washing the tub and door seal with bleach, and running a sanitize cycle with bleach (I was surprised to find that I had some).  I don't know how long it will last, though.  In the meantime, I've run countless loads of laundry through the washer twice, worn really stinky clothes, and thrown away at least a dozen kitchen towels before I realized that the problem was my washer and not my old towels.  I already ordered the Affresh tablets so I'll keep them for an emergency.  But this is not progress.  This washer looks cool but makes more work for me. Please, do some research before you buy a front-loader!


  1. Let me add my own gripe about frontloaders: clothes ruined from being stuck in the small gap between the opening and the door. In theory, I suppose there is an analogous risk from the agitator in a toploader, but I've never had it happen, where I have experienced it with limited use of frontloaders while traveling.

  2. Thanks for the warning. I had highly considered looking into a front loader for our next machine. But, now I'll will definitely think twice unless they've drastically improved by the time we'll need one.

  3. Huh. I love my front loader, have never had musty odors or clothes get stuck, and I leave clothes in it all day all the time. Then again, I live in Utah where it is *very* dry (humidity at 15% outside is pretty normal). But I had a different front loader in California, also without incident.

    I did find the complaints like those that Amy linked to before buying and tried to find a brand with minimal problems (it's a whirpool duet, if anyone is wondering) - though I don't think there are any brands that are complaint-free. I like that I can set it to do prewashes / extra rinses and it does all that without me coming back to it - my previous washer didn't.

  4. Yes, all your observations match ours. I've rewashed many a load in desperation to banish the stale smell because it sat overnight. Plus here's one other complaint: we've used our front-loader for three years now and I've noticed my whites don't come out as clean as with my ancient top-loader. Probably, this is true for all the laundry but I just notice it on the whites. I even started using bleach on them to hedge my bets. I've attributed the difference to the lack of sufficient water to really soak the clothes and the absence of the agitator which used really whack them around; "they" say that's hard on fabric but dingy clothes just don't do it for me. I say whack away!
    I don't know what I was thinking because when I see the laundry languidly flopping around in the drum, it seems obvious there's no hard work going on in there. When the time comes, I will happily return to a top-loader.

  5. The two things I do now that I would really miss with a front-loader is adding clothes after the cycle starts and letting clothes soak overnight (a trick my grandmother did). I've heard a lot of people have had issues with odor. I think part of it also has to do with the incoming water.

  6. This is late but:

    I read somewhere that one of the biggest causes of mildew smells from doing laundry (front or top loading) is too much detergent, especially liquid detergent. I know a lot of people have had success making this problem better by using powdered detergents and/or smaller amounts of detergent than recommended. See here for some info:

    Don't know if that will help, but maybe it will make things a little easier.

  7. Travis, Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that. I see that as yet one more way that front-loaders have to be "managed" and just one more hassle. My step-mom uses almost no soap at all and the clothes just don't get clean that way. Well, her clothes do, but she doesn't have pre-schooler stains to get out! :)