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What’s that Smell? Front-Loading Washing Machine Dilemma

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image of front-loading washing machineIf you are one of the millions of people loving their front-loading washing machine, the benefits usually outweigh any issues. You’ve been diligent about locking the door during cycles to avoid leaks and loading proper clothing amounts, but a smell has begun to grow along the door gasket. Unlike top-loading washers, this sealing gasket provides a perfect location for mold and mildew to grow, as noted in this Consumer Reports article. These microorganisms create that permeating smell, but you can remove it with some clever cleaning strategies.

Dry it Out

One of the simplest ways to stop that smell is to use the air-dry method. After washing a load, allow the door to remain ajar for air circulation. It doesn’t even need to be completely open, just slightly unlatched. Mold and mildew rely on consistently wet conditions. If you allow evaporation to occur, they have no way to reproduce successfully. Inappropriate smells are avoided in the future with dry door gaskets.

Wipe it Down

Residue does build up over time so grab a rag, mildew cleaner and soapy water. Saturate the gasket with the cleaning products and scrub them clean. You may need several rags for this job, depending on the extent of uncleanliness. Molds are slimy by nature so wear rubber gloves if necessary. Press your hand into every crevice possible. It’s always the dark corners that have the most buildup of all.

Run a Cycle

Although it may appear counterintuitive, run a washing cycle. Add baking soda and vinegar to the washer water, choosing the hot setting for this cleaning task. These two cleaning agents effectively scrub the gasket for you, leaving only a clean surface after a completed cycle. If you don’t have these items around, try bleach with hot water. Bleach naturally breaks down mold and mildew, leaving the washer tub sanitized for another load. But don’t mix bleach with other chemicals.

Fabric Softener Fans Beware

If you tend to pour the fabric softener into the washing machine, try to curb this habit. Although your clothes feel incredibly soft, the leftover residues in the washer slowly accumulate. They actually add to the gasket smell and residue buildup. Switch to laundry balls or dryer sheets during the drying cycle. Neglected molds can affect the household’s health if the gasket continues to stay smelly.

Use Your Features

Every washing machine has various features, but look over your manufacturer’s instructions for a sanitizing setting. When you run the washer on the sanitize setting, it uses the hottest water possible for a long cleaning session. Try to run the sanitizing process at least once a month. If you have a busy household, you may want to run it even more often. Although wiping the gasket is still necessary, the machine prolongs its lifespan and improves cleanliness with consistent sanitizing.

A Professional Might be Needed

You may have dedicated time to cleaning the gasket faithfully, but scents still linger around the appliance. Periodically, bring in a washing machine repair professional. They can look for other hidden mold and mildew areas. Common service calls could include drum removal for any buildup behind this part. Although most residue is around the door gasket, moisture permeates the entire machine. Professionals quickly find the problem areas, clean them and bring your appliance back to life. Schedule a professional once a year or more for the best washer care.

Prevention is typically the best way to stop any smelly occurrences around the home. Ask everyone to wipe the seal down after cycles using a clean rag. The goal is to remove any residual moisture trapped on the rubber. When you disturb the perfect growing grounds, mold and mildew will die back.

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Things to check before you call:

  • CHECK for a blown fuse
  • CHECK that the appliance is plugged in
  • CHECK that the dryer vent is clean
  • CHECK that refrigerator controls are at the proper setting
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