Thread Number: 68399  /  Tag: Modern Automatic Washers
Mold in frontload washers
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Post# 911485   12/17/2016 at 09:54 (553 days old) by AquaCycle (West Yorkshire, UK)        

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Hey folks,

I've seen a few post recently regarding mold in front loaders and thought I'd offer some advice.

As most of our US friends will know, whilst top loaders were the norm for many years in the US, they never really took off in the UK for a number of reasons. When washing machines were becoming popular, our houses at that time were all older houses - much older than many houses in the US and also a lot smaller. They were never built to accomodate such appliances. The washing machine had to go where ever it would fit and wherever the plumbing was, which was usually next to the kitchen sink. So frontloaders beccame popular as they could go under the kitchen counter and save valuable workspace.

Mold in our washers was never an issue until maybe the last 20 years or so. Colour protect detergents and, more noticeably, liquid detergents weren't available here until the late 80's and became popular in the early 90's. Prior to that, powder detergents ("soap powder" as it was known) was the norm and all of them contained some concentration of oxygen-based bleaching agents.

Oxy bleach is unstable in liquid form, so liquid detergents never contained this.

Also, coming off the back of the popularity of twin tub washing machines, "boil washing" was still common practice for white items with slightly lower temperatures like 75 or 60 degrees C was used for coloureds. Later, 40 and 30 degrees became more popular.

The rise in popularity of liquid detergents and cool water washing is directly resonsible for the increase of mold build up in washing machines. Using a liquid on a low temp is not enough to kill bacteria on clothes from sweat and from fecal bacteria in underwear. Whilst this isn't in itself a huge health concern, constant use of liquids at low temps will create a lovely warm, damp environment - a perfect breading ground for bacteria to grow and build up over time, hence the mold appearing around the door seal.

Whilst liquid detergents and cool washes do have their place, especially with delicate fabrics being more popular today than they were 20/30 years ago. However, in my experience, the best way to combat mold in front loaders is to leave the door open slightly between washing and also to use a powder detergent and hot washes. This doesn't have to be exclusively - even one washing load a week like this should be enough.

At home on laundry day, I tend to do my low temp washes first and do my hotter washes last. My last wash is always my white towels, dishcloths, cleaning cloths etc that should always have a hot wash anyway. For these, I use a bleach containing powder detergent and a high temperature - anything from 60 degrees C upwards should be fine, depending on what you're washing. Not only does this hygienically clean the load, it also cleans the drum and door seal at the same time :).

My mother in laws washer had gone black with mold around the door seal and absolutely stank. Since she has stopped using liquids and gone back to powder, it's disappeared completely.

Anyway, sorry for the essay, but I hope this is helpful to anyone out there having issues with mold or bad smells in front loaders.

Post# 911487 , Reply# 1   12/17/2016 at 10:14 (553 days old) by mayken4now (Panama City, Florida)        

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This topic has been discussed till it's engraved into the earth.  However,  you are 100% correct.  Good essay and info for anyone who may be the new kid on the block!

Post# 911490 , Reply# 2   12/17/2016 at 10:25 (553 days old) by AquaCycle (West Yorkshire, UK)        
been discussed till it's engraved into the earth

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Indeed it has, but it can't hurt to bring it up again. Especially as it seems (correct me if I'm wrong) that traditional toploaders are becoming rarer and HE toploaders and frontloaders are getting more popular. I imagine it's quite a leap to go from a traditional toploader to a HE TL or FL and the general consumer may not be aware that the way you use the machine is very different.

Of course, either type of machine will clean the clothes, but people need to be aware of the best way to use both typs of machine.

Post# 911492 , Reply# 3   12/17/2016 at 10:42 (553 days old) by PassatDoc (Orange County, California)        

Other issues particular to USA:

1. Large parts of the USA, particularly The South, are hot and humid during the summer. This issue is partly obviated if the washer is inside the part of the house that is air-conditioned (as opposed to basement or garage). In California, the garage has been an historically popular place to locate the laundry, as it addresses noise, flood danger, and heat issues. In coastal Southern California, use of air conditioning can be avoided or minimised with laundry machines situated in the garage.

2. Most Americans purchasing a front loader are buying their first such machine. Do's and don'ts that are second nature to Europeans---do wipe gasket dry at end of laundry day, don't shut the washer door when not in use---are often NOT second nature to Americans, whose prior machines (and whose parents' machines) were likely all top loaders.

I knew to leave the washer door ajar only from having observed homes in Europe, while visiting as a guest. The topic is buried in most new washer user manuals, so that someone speed-reading through the manual would miss it. I try to emphasize the point to friends buying their first front loaders, but it's very common to hear of people in warm/humid climates with basement laundry areas who complain of mold. I've owned front loaders for over a decade, located in a garage where summer temperatures can exceed 90 F (34 C), and never have issues with mold or odors. But I always wipe down the gasket, leave the door ajar, and either open the dispenser, or remove it and dump the residual water.

Post# 911494 , Reply# 4   12/17/2016 at 10:46 (553 days old) by AquaCycle (West Yorkshire, UK)        

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I never wipe the door seal after use! I clean it down once a week when I'm wiping the laundry room surfaces down. I just spray a big of regular kitchen clean spray on the cloth and give it a wipe down, nothing major.

Post# 911496 , Reply# 5   12/17/2016 at 10:50 (553 days old) by Yogitunes (New Jersey)        

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well said...and informative....

as mentioned, we seem to repeat this stuff over and over.....we know what causes it, and how to get rid of it, in fact, how to keep it away in the first place...

something like this should be a sort of PDF in, if you inquiring of mold issues, read this chapter, problem solved.....

a lot of people wont take into consideration that the issue could be their washing habits....

as noted too, if this was an issue with FLers, they would ALL do it....

but you have a combination of things.....dubbed down wash temps, is one thing that is rather gov't controlled, and you have to find ways around that.....lower water heater temp settings don't help either....

Post# 911497 , Reply# 6   12/17/2016 at 10:52 (553 days old) by mayken4now (Panama City, Florida)        
Okay I agree

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Let me first say, back in 1996, one had a friend who owned Grays Maytag in Pensacola Florida, USA.  At that point, had been in business since 1968.  Okay, here we go with the Neptune (MAH3000--add the color suffix).  Price of the machines were around $800.00 to $900.00 for the washer.  Got the pair, you're looking at almost $2000.00.  Sold a bunch of them..........  He shared with me on multiple occasions, "The Lady of the House" would come in to the dealership LIVID.  "I am NOT paying that much for a washer that I have to do all this extra work to keep it from being nasty."  "Never on my previous Maytag's did I do all that."  Guess what, returned the set, bought a top loader in exchange, rendering a refund by Gray.  This was an ongoing ass whoopin for years.  


Chris, you have to understand, WE in AW are of a different breed.  We love our clean machines and know how to care for them as we should, as you first mentioned.  The detergent issue, along with water temperature issue etc.  Like you, one does the same process of washing the whites last if possible with very hot water and bleach.  Then, I go the extra mile and dry out my machine, leave the door ajar  and all that.  The John Q Public is NOT going to do any of that and/or give it any thought here in the USA anyway.  Hence, they have nasty machines.  


I have a business and are in many homes.  Of course once contract is signed and work commences, one will find a way to see which type of machines they are using and take a peek.  Can honestly tell you, 89% of what I see are the most nastiest, stench smelling, machines possible. The laundry room even is filled with this odor.  They don't care, just keep bitching about it's the machines fault.  It wont change.  The Whirlpool company here even sells (big scam IMO) a product called Affresh for washers and even dishwashers.  AND a "Clean Washer" cycle to the options.  Folks fall for it and purchase.  What a joke.


Gyrafoam, a respected member here recently put it in total prospective:  "Washers have become sewers for laundry"





Post# 911501 , Reply# 7   12/17/2016 at 11:16 (553 days old) by AquaCycle (West Yorkshire, UK)        
WE in AW are of a different breed

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Oh I know that - the purpose of this thread wasn't trying to teach anyone to suck eggs, it was purely for information. Don't forget, automatic washer pages come up in google searches, so you never know who might find this interesting.

Just for info, my Mum uses powder for all her laundry (always has) and has never had an issue with mold build up. She doesn't clean the machine at all...ever! Just the powder alone and the odd hot wash is enough to keep it clean.

Post# 911532 , Reply# 8   12/17/2016 at 16:41 (553 days old) by Hotpointwfwt02 (Manchester)        
How I prevent mould

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I wash at a minimum of 40 degrees and use a liquid for colours / darks and for whites and towels and bedding I use powder. I wash whites and towels and bedding at higher temperatures. I think washing at higher temperatures is important as it keeps mould from the washing machine as its disgusting when bacteria builds up. I wash whites at 50/60*C. Towels and bedding minimum of 60 degrees is what I would do. And do a boilwash every now and again with sturdy stuff. I would recommend maintenance washes on the boilwash with Citric acid every 2-3 months. But in the parents Bosch in the utility that's been there for nearly 1 year has a Drum Clean cycle.


Post# 911537 , Reply# 9   12/17/2016 at 17:59 (552 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Only reason traditional top loading washers are going away

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Is due to federal and or local state (such as California) laws/rules regarding energy use and or restrictions. You read plenty of posts from "average" Americans on Youtube or various other websites, and or in conversation and you'll know there is a demand for the top loaders of old.

As for H-Axis washers mould and having a whiff about them; there is a learning curve in terms of use and maintenance that goes with these machines. This applies to commercial and residential.

Not long after installation the new SQ washers at local laundryette developed a whiff about them. Since these machines do not have rubber boots and or even pumps something was acting as a source of warmth and moisture for mould to gain a toe hold. My guess is the Chinese hired to run the place (and do service washes) aren't leaving the doors of washers open after closing.

When you see adverts for front loaders here in the USA the door is invariably shown as closed. Also with many laundries now on first floors/living areas many Americans just do not like leaving the door to their washing machines open. Truth to tell it does spoil a nice clean line, especially if one has opted for solid doors, but that is what it is.

Post# 911543 , Reply# 10   12/17/2016 at 18:38 (552 days old) by ronhic (Canberra, Australia)        

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I don't want to inflame this, so please don't think I'm trying to.

My observance from travel in Europe and living in the UK and Australia is that the mould issues simply don't exist to the extent that appear to in the US.

Australians in particular are similar in many ways to Americans - we were brought up on a solid diet of top-load machines from the 1950's to the early 2000's when this country went through a particularly dreadful drought that lasted years. That event was enough for councils and government to back water efficient appliances.

So we had a perfect storm really - lack of water resources and people needed appliances...water utilities increasing in cost and penalties for watering the garden, washing cars etc. Born out of need, efficient was the way to go.

The application of that need was different to the US can still buy a water user, but the incentive is to not...and it's often deemed wasteful to do so. Financial incentives from councils who were inspecting the appliance once connected in order to rebate simply reinforced it. The key difference is that it wasn't mandated here and manufacturers didn't get the incentives, the purchaser did.

Then add in culture - If you tell Australians that something is good for them and explain why, we tend to accept it. From what I have observed on this website, Americans are less inclined to and can get caught up in the 'it's my right - I pay for it' mantra and blame the government in the process....which to a degree, is correct given the way the incentives when to manufacturers and not the public.

Now add all that together - a general unwillingness to accept change, modern efficient appliances and the determination that you can do what you like due to misconceived 'rights' and you have the perfect breeding ground for people to simply blame the appliance and not their own refusal to do something differently.

Wiping out a door seal and not shutting it takes 30 seconds...hardly an imposition on anyone's day.

Post# 911546 , Reply# 11   12/17/2016 at 18:57 (552 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
To be fair

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Some of the blame for Americans harsh feelings against front loaders rests on Maytag's doorstep.

Early Neptune washer should never have been put on the market. Even after problems arose Maytag was slow out of the gate to acknowledge and or make things right with customers. When they finally got on the ball it was too little and too late far as many customers both current and potential were concerned. Cleary the damage was done in that the equation was now "front loaders = issues with mold, odors and so forth".

Maytag for reasons only themselves and God only knows failed to appreciate the move from TL to FL washing machines was going to require a huge change by Americans. First and foremost was that their favourite high suds detergent had to go.

Next consumers would have to be educated on longer cycle times, leaving door open between use, etc.....

IMHO Maytag didn't want to spook customers and potentially lose sales, so they didn't talk about the "negatives" (not that they are, but could be perceived as such by some) and hyped the benefits. However when the aforementioned "negatives" materialized Maytag was caught flat footed in how to deal with them.

As for being "stubborn" about their appliances and how are used; well yes, plenty of American housewives had long had that attitude. The more years of seasoning she hand under her belt the stronger were the held beliefs. Again this is where education comes in.....

Post# 911557 , Reply# 12   12/17/2016 at 21:04 (552 days old) by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        
laundromat washers

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"Not long after installation the new SQ washers at local laundryette developed a whiff about them. Since these machines do not have rubber boots and or even pumps something was acting as a source of warmth and moisture for mould to gain a toe hold."


You said it Launderess....the largest laundromat here has all new SQ machines, both TL and FL from the standard version like the home FL machines up to the behemoth 80 pounders.  I have been in there near closing time and the man who comes in to empty the change boxes, clean the lint filters, and mop the floors goes around shutting EVERY machine door and latching it!  Those machines stink.  Thankfully the only things I wash there are my large area rug and king sized quilts...a couple times per year.

Post# 911560 , Reply# 13   12/17/2016 at 21:12 (552 days old) by Laundromat (Hilo, Hawaii)        

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We had a Lady Kenmore combination washer dryer. Our neighbors had the Westinghouse Laundromat. Our combo never had the chance to get mildew but in the Westinghouse Laundromat was a booklet that told the users to leave the door ajar and wipe the boot to keep from having mildew form. I see so many of the new ones ruined because the owners close them and only wash clothes once or twice a week. I hear so many stories from folks who had and now hate front loaders due to the mildew even suites filed against Whirlpool and LG. Now, they have added a pat that keeps the doors ajar to cover their butts. I never had that problem.I always keep the door open when not in use. That keeps the inside fresh and clean for the next load. It may seam biased but increases the life of my washers and dishwashers.

Post# 911563 , Reply# 14   12/17/2016 at 21:34 (552 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
If one is not

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willing to use enough hot water, detergent and bleach to keep one's clothes clean, than one need not wonder when the washer is filthy.

My mother couldn't leave the door open to the front loaders in Munich, the cats would play in them and she was always afraid one would get locked inside. So, she ran Sagrotan in the last washload. Never once a mold problem.


Post# 911579 , Reply# 15   12/18/2016 at 00:03 (552 days old) by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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My Asko owner's manual printed in 1997 says to leave the door ajar.  I always have.

Post# 911589 , Reply# 16   12/18/2016 at 05:50 (552 days old) by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

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Mold and smutz is not unique to frontloaders.  Traditional toploaders also suffer from it, as we all know, when bad usage habits are involved.

Post# 911596 , Reply# 17   12/18/2016 at 07:40 (552 days old) by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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Don't I know it....My sister's old GE with plastic tub from back in the 90's.  The trans went out, leaking oil everywhere.  I bought her a used  MOL Maytag orbital and she gave me the GE to tinker with.  When I disassembled it I was shocked at all the crap accumulated on the outside of the plastic basket.  It had all these molded in ridges that hold onto water even after it was finished causing mold and that pink slimy stuff (probably seratia marcesens) that grows in wet conditions.  I'm sure she never used hot water, maybe not even warm back then and I'm sure no bleach.


Post# 911866 , Reply# 18   12/19/2016 at 23:34 (550 days old) by golittlesport (California)        

Newer LG front loaders have an ingenious magnetic door stop that leaves the door slightly ajar to let air circulate while appearing to be closed. You have to push it slightly past that point to actually close the door.

Post# 911955 , Reply# 19   12/20/2016 at 17:13 (550 days old) by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        
Reading instructions/directions is-----

an un-American activity.
So, forgettaboutit.

Thanks to Chris and those outside the US for your informative opinion.
Laundress, two different couples I know each bought Neptune pairs as soon as they were introduced to the market in Atlanta. Very soon afterward Maytag advised them both, by letter, that a modification was available for replacement of the door boot. The replacement had drain holes in it to keep water from pooling inside the recesses of the boot.

All that was required was to call and set an appointment for the work to be done at no charge. At the time the customers were very favorably impressed by how quickly Maytag handled the problem.
The Maytag reps were always available and any issues no matter how small were handled immediately.
I can't speak for the experiences of others, however, in the Atlanta area the Maytag people were very much "on top" of things in the first few years of introduction.

Both of my friends still have their machines, one set high and the other low mileage. Both are loathe to ponder getting rid of the old workhorses. They have both seen numerous repairs over the years, and are very loyal to their old friends. They are hot water and Powdered Tide users and have not had odor issues.

As Glenn pointed out, the top-loaders also have issues. Some of the nastiest machines I have seen have been neutral-draining top-loaders. They always have a thick ring of nasty black jelly towards the top of the outer-tub. Victims of the "trailer setting" of Cold/Cold and too little or lame detergents. Oh, and lots of fabric softener to cover the bacterial odors.

Post# 912064 , Reply# 20   12/21/2016 at 18:10 (548 days old) by aegokocarat (Cearphily county South Wales)        
Just my few pence worth...

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I'm not saying this is right as it could well be wrong, but when I buy laundry liquid (some brands I like have a very limited format range) I always add in a scoop of Astonish or Ecover or Bio-D laundry bleach/Oxy plus when washing bedding, whites and towels at high temperatures (with at least one or maybe two of my washes depending on weather I have cleaning clothes or kitchen linen to wash, being at 90 or 95 degrees c) and I have never had a problem with build up in my machine or any odours or laundry not being fresh or properly washed once the cycle has ended, certain things I will wash at the trending 30 degrees but usually my loads all go in on a 40 degree wash minimum. The reason I know I haven't had any build up issues is that periodically I like to run my machine through an empty hot wash to flush it through if I have washed anything that is particularly dirty or had any kind of debris on it (I know that really i shouldnt need to do this as I wash on high temperatures, but I just feel a bit better if I do) and when my machine(s) are at the required temperature, there is not surfactant residue and usually the water is pretty clear. I do bounce between powder and liquid though, so that may be the reason as to why I haven't really had an issue, but I just wanted to put in my experiences with liquids, I'm not having a poke or anything :)

Post# 912396 , Reply# 21   12/24/2016 at 08:43 (546 days old) by AquaCycle (West Yorkshire, UK)        

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That's a good system Tom, at least you still have some kind of detergent in the machine that will shift the bacteria that causes mold to build up

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