Question: “I have a HE (high-efficiency) front-load clothes washing machine, lately it seems our clothes come out smelling terrible like moldy mildew or something! Is there something a plumber can do to help this?”
Answer: What’s worse than a mountain of dirty laundry? A mountain of laundry you’ve just cleaned that smells of mildew. Especially towels!
If you have a front-load, HE washer, this scenario is far more common than you might realize. While the technology in HE washers is wonderful (they use much less water than traditional top loaders and their spin cycle is truly awesome) over time, humid conditions can lead to mold in two zones: the gasket (that rubber seal on the inside of the door) and the drum.
The Causes of HE Washer Mold:
Let’s start with the gasket, which is the most common culprit when it comes to washer mold. The reason is simple: the gasket doesn’t get much of a rinse. During a typical wash cycle, only a small amount of water is splashed past the seal, and over time, detergent and gunk accumulate in the folds as the water evaporates. Combine that with the fact that humidity stays trapped in the folds and you’ve got a recipe for the stinky stuff. If you notice a strong moldy odor when you open the door to the washer, pull back the rubber gasket examine the folds for black mold.
The second area in which mold residue forms is the inside of the drum. The main cause here is humidity combined with residue from laundry detergents & fabric softeners that cling to the inside of the washer.
How to clean your washer to keep it smelling fresh:
If you do have mold in your washer, there’s no need to panic. Getting rid of it is very straightforward and the preventative measure you can take to keep it from coming back is one & the same. I can attest to the ease of dealing with this problem first-hand, as earlier in the year, our washer had a bad mold problem.
Pour plain white vinegar in the bleach reservoir to the very top with each load. Not only does it kill the bacteria causing odor, it softens your clothes as well. I was skeptical of this at first thinking I would replace the moldy smell for a sharp vinegar stench. NOT the case, everything comes out smelling like laundry mom used to do!
One of today’s service calls was from a distraught customer reporting a “tremendous flood” with their clothes washer and the water being shut-off by their neighbor. Result:
Rubber washing machine hoses don’t burst with no warning. To the contrary, rubber washing machine hoses do give you a warning. If you have rubber washing machine hoses 5 years or older – that’s your warning. We recommend high quality stainless steel “no burst” braided hoses as seen below. (Actual replacement today)