Fighting the mold monster

16 Oct

Once upon a time, we bought a washer and dryer.  They were front-loaders.  They were stackable.  I was in love.

We just finally got them stacked last week.  While we were in Vancouver, Tim did a laundry room renovation that makes the teeny room seem twice as large as before.  I was ecstatic!  It really is a great thing, but it’s not what this post is about.

I’ve been noticing for a few weeks that the washer has a moldy, mildewy smell in it.  And some of our towels seem to smell that way, too.  Although I never did before (for safety reasons), in the past few weeks, I started leaving the front door of the washer open to let it air out.  And since I can access the machines more easily in our now-spacious laundry room, I gave everything a good wipe earlier this week.

Then I read this post on the Home Ec 101 blog.  I had never ever heard that front-load washing machines are prone to mold growth.  Since it’s apparent that the machine already has a mold problem, I did a search on how to resolve the problem.  It’s scary, but from what I’ve read, it’s not necessarily an easy fix.  Although I’ve been noticing the mold smell only for the past few weeks (and I thought it was because SOMEBODY had left wet loads of laundry in the machine for SEVERAL DAYS, but I’m not saying WHO…) it’s possible that this is a problem that’s been building up for a while.  That scares the crap out of me.  What if this is what’s been causing us to get so many colds.  Or if it has something to do with Jade’s seizures?

I literally found out about this issue just now, so I haven’t actually tried to check out the machine to see where the mold might be yet.  I’ll let you know how the battle goes.  And if you have any tips for me, please let me know.

10 Responses to “Fighting the mold monster”

  1. Heather October 16, 2008 at 9:12 pm #

    I’m pretty sensitive to mold. What I recommend is running a bleach cycle (no clothes) wiping the gasket with an oxiclean type product and leaving the door open between loads. That should reduce your problem. Good luck!

    Wow, you’re quick, Heather! Thanks for the tip. I’m actually running a hot-water bleach cycle with no clothes right this very minute. And I’ve got the buzzer on so that I can go open the door right away once the “load” is done. One thing I read was to also keep the detergent tray open between washes to let it air out.

    The good news is that after I wrote this post I went to look at the washer and I couldn’t actually smell anything in it (it’s been drying out for a couple of days), so I take that as a good sign. Some of the threads I read had people complaining that their machines were stinking up entire houses. I wish I could figure out how to have a look at the drain hoses to see if there are any problems there, but I take comfort in the fact that I couldn’t smell anything nasty — my nose is pretty sensitive to mold.

  2. Malva October 17, 2008 at 5:15 am #

    I’ve heard of alot of people having mold problems in front-loaders and hating them (obviously) as a result. Most of them have Whirlpool (if I recall correctly) and other fancy brands.

    But personally, I’ve had a cheap Kenmore front-loader for the last 4 years and I love it. I’ve never had any mold problems. In fact, I’ve never had any problems at all. I do leave the door open in between loads and when I used to buy laundry soap, I always bought HE one and if that wasn’t available, used the tinyest amount of regular stuff. I still use soap fyi, but I make my own. :)

  3. allmycke October 17, 2008 at 6:27 am #

    I had the same problem with the washer at my previous adress and I realised that the mould started around the detergent tray. I began taking it out each time I was done and I also left the door open just a bit.
    Nowadays I use a detergent free washing ball – and have thus eliminated both detergetn and softenser. It’s great!

  4. Beth October 17, 2008 at 7:39 am #

    We bought a front load washer two years ago. We leave the door open between loads and we also pull back the rubber flap back at the bottom when you open the door and wipe that out.

    I am allergic to mold so we are very careful with stuff like that.

    We have not found any mold yet but sometimes do find a musty smell and when we do we just air it out and it seems to be fine!

  5. Gen October 17, 2008 at 8:20 am #

    We had the very same problem this week! Black mold was growing in the rubber seal. A bleach cycle and a good wipe down seemed to solve the problem, although the seal is stained now. I guess weekly maintenance is a must. Now, if only our fancy electronic dryer was able to survive those nasty Yukon power surges! How I long for my mother’s appliances which seemed to last 20+ years!

  6. Jenny October 17, 2008 at 9:46 am #

    If all else fails I’d try running some sort of mold killing bathroom cleaner through like Tilex or something. I saw a lady who lives behind us washing out her clothes with a washboard in a kiddy pool! That’d be safe.!

  7. Suzanne October 17, 2008 at 4:00 pm #

    I saw (possibly “coldwater” too) liquid Tide Free HE at Loblaws last week. I don’t know if you can get it up there yet. I think it’s pretty new. It was in a white bottle.
    Also, if you’re worried about safety and leaving the washer door open, can you install a baby gate to the laundry room / put a child lock on a door? That’s what I ended up doing.

  8. Marianne October 17, 2008 at 4:30 pm #

    I don’t have a front-loading machine, but I know when my mom got hers a number of years ago the instructions very clearly state to leave the door open after each load to help it air out. In fact, top-loading washers shoudl also be left open after a cycle, but if they aren’t they air out better because of course there isn’t a water and air-tight seal around the lid.

    Anyway, I agree with the hot water and bleach cycle. You may want to run it a few more times over the next few weeks just to be on the safe side. The bleach will also help kill stuff in the hoses.

  9. Kara October 17, 2008 at 5:56 pm #

    Oh no! I just picked up the dryer that will match the stacking washer when sears remembers to bring it in!! I look forward to hearing more on how it goes.

  10. Sue Sullivan October 19, 2008 at 7:15 pm #

    http://www.smellywasher.com sells the miracle product to get rid of the smell, it works!

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