Front loading washing machines have gotten a bad rap over recent years. They do save water but are prone to odor for that same reason.
The truth is whether you have a front loader, a top loader, HE or regular and even if your washer does not stink it is important to clean it.
Odor is often first noticed in towels because they are used when wet and in close proximity to the face. That odor is being transferred from the washer and it needs to be cleaned first. After the odor is gone washing habits may need to change to keep it away. Intermittent odor is a sure sign remaining residue just above the normal waterline. Full loads come in contact with the residue in the splash area and the clothing is contaminated again with spores.
HE or Regular Washing Machines
To prevent odor:*
- use less detergent. It’s odd to think that all you need is a tbsp of detergent but unless you have soiled clothing such as washing diapers we’re normally washing only perfume and sweat from our clothes.
- stop using fabric softener. It’s dispensed in the rinse cycle and leaves a film that becomes a food source for bacteria and mold to grow. Dryer sheets are a better idea but can also be overused.
- using mainly cold water is fine but maintain your washer by running a hot cycle as your last cycle on wash day and even an extra rinse if doing especially soiled laundry.
- Clean the filter. The filter can be partially plugged to slow the drain of water to cause problems.
- Finally, HE washers require a special high efficiency (low sudsing) detergent. They also require a lot less of this special detergent than you’re probably used to using. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and measure carefully. Detergent mistakes can cause over-sudsing and poor rinsing, both of which can cause washer odor.
* Many people leave the washer door open or ajar to remove odor. While it does reduce the smell it does not remove the cause and actually makes the odor-causing residue harder to remove by drying it out. If your washer stinks with the door open or closed.. it’s time to clean it.