Thread Number: 90228  /  Tag: Modern Automatic Washers
Whirlpool Direct Drive top load washers always smell
[Down to Last]'s exclusive eBay Watch:
scroll >>> for more items --- [As an eBay Partner, eBay may compensate if you make a purchase using any link to eBay on this page]
Post# 1148017   5/5/2022 at 02:15 (720 days old) by norgechef (Saint George New Brunswick )        

Why do 99% of the DD Whirlpool made washers I come across (I'm talking the classic old school models) made from the mid 80s to the early 2010's smell of mold or mildew after a few years of use? I can't recall the last time I've used or noticed one (at least 50+, some less than 3 years old at the time there was an odour) that don't have that signature moldy/mildew smell they all seem to develop. Is it some sort of defect in the machines not cleaning themselves properly, or maybe the grade of steel being used for the tubs? Its not usually as pungent as the smell you get from a moldy front loader, but has a sweeter musk-y sort of smell. They do seem to get noticeable build-up on the outer tubs much more easily when you take them apart than most other top loaders. So maybe I just answered my own question.

I have never noticed this smell (unless coming from a dirty softener dispenser/cup) in other full-fill top load machines made around the same era. Be it a Maytag Performa with plastic tubs/Dependable Care style with porcelain/steel, GE, LG, etc.

Newer HE washers really depend, as most in the average household will have mold or mildew at some point with the extra low level of water coupled with everyone now using cold water washes (''would you wash your dishes in freezing cold water?''I say) and the temps. dumbed down even if they do use a warm or hot wash option. But thats a separate issue.

Anyone else notice this to be very common with the classic Whirlpool direct drive top loaders, or is it just me? Also would like to add, I have lived in 3 different provinces in Canada, seen these washers used in houses on city/town water supplies of differing quality, soft water, hard water, well water, etc. and it seems that the quality of water being used doesn't matter. Of course the smell is worse for people who only use cheap detergents and cold water, but exists in most machines of people who use good quality detergent and warm/hot washes as well.

As someone who recently bought a refurbished 1996 Kenmore DD washer, even with the tub(s) being removed and scrubbed out, and new agitator dogs (so water is circulating normally) it only took weeks for the smell to become evident on mine as well. Only use Warm or Hot water, and always leave the lid open for the interior to dry. Going from using predominantly Maytag Performa style plastic tub washers, I never had the odours. And although I love the machine in terms of cleaning, the god awful ka-thunk ka-thunk ka-thunk agitation and the roaring rum-rum-rum neutral drain is a bit annoying. Very loud machine. All the Performa/Atlantis platform machines I and my family have had are ultra-quiet even without the sound dampening quiet packages on the advanced models.

Post# 1148018 , Reply# 1   5/5/2022 at 02:47 (720 days old) by Maytag85 (Sean A806)        

maytag85's profile picture
Simple answer: cold water users, cheap detergent (mainly Arm & Hammer), and leaving the lid closed. Using warm water, quality detergent like Tide, and leaving the lid open wonít cause it to smell.

Post# 1148019 , Reply# 2   5/5/2022 at 03:24 (720 days old) by norgechef (Saint George New Brunswick )        
Why is Tide promoting cold water washes?

@Maytag85 That makes sense. I still find it very noticeable on all of them, sometimes its not as strong, sometimes you have to get close to the drum to smell it, but its there. Not scent-free, or fresh detergent smell, like most top loaders, but a moldy musty odour. What doesn't make sense to me is why they even have the original ''Tide Cold water'' available anymore when every detergent and pac (unless its the non-cold water powder) say they work in cold water...and they promote it on all the commercials now. I just don't buy that it can get very dirty clothes clean, kill much bacteria, or completely dissolve detergent and pac/pod residue using cold water, Tide or otherwise.

Seems P&G wants everyone to have a moldy washer, cover the scent of clothes that are not truly clean up with strong perfumes in their detergents, and force you to buy their Tide brand of washing machine cleaner to get rid of the smell when your machine becomes moldy or mildewy. Which really just perfumes up the machine and probably does not get residue out either. That Tide washing machine cleaner makes the entire house smell like a perfume factory for DAYS. I'm just speculating here, but seems to be a good marketing scheme.

Post# 1148040 , Reply# 3   5/5/2022 at 09:52 (720 days old) by philcobendixduo (San Jose)        
My 1987 Kenmore DD.....

philcobendixduo's profile picture
.....built by Whirlpool has never had any objectionable odors. I do make it a point to always dry out the dispensers after the last load and leave the lid open for a few days to ensure the tub etc. dries out.

I never use cold water wash - just warm and I use liquid detergent.
I do use chlorine bleach with the whites every 2 weeks so that may help to keep the machine odor free as well.

I used to use fabric softener but stopped a few years ago as I found it really didn't do much except perfume up the clothes more than I wanted. I know it leaves a lot of residue on the outer tub and that can be odorous after a time.

Post# 1148118 , Reply# 4   5/6/2022 at 10:56 (719 days old) by lakewebsterkid (Dayton, Ohio)        

It is kind of funny you mention this. Our Kenmore DD smelled worse than our Whirlpool Duet ever did. We always used warm washes and either Tide powder or Tide Coldwater liquid (still washed in warm). Lid was always left open, and was in a first floor laundry where it was dry. We were not the original owners. It wasn't strong, but it did have a faint mildew smell.

Post# 1148126 , Reply# 5   5/6/2022 at 13:28 (718 days old) by DADoES (TX,†U.S. of A.)        

dadoes's profile picture

LakeWebsterKid, the residue likely was left from the previous user.† Disassembly is required to fully clear the accumulation for a fresh start with proper usage habits.

Post# 1148156 , Reply# 6   5/6/2022 at 20:26 (718 days old) by IIIJohnnyMacIII (North Carolina)        

iiijohnnymaciii's profile picture
Donít overdo the fabric softener, set your warm water to 105, your hot water to 140, and use bleach when you wash your whites. You will never have an issue with smells if you follow those rules.

Post# 1148157 , Reply# 7   5/6/2022 at 20:26 (718 days old) by mark_wpduet (Lexington KY)

mark_wpduet's profile picture
Back years ago...My dad remarried and our step mom moved in. She hated using LCB...banned it from the house...We had a WP TL washer with the surgilator agitator... I remember it had this FUNK about it...Back then, I had no clue what it was I just remember it smelling whereas it hadn't smelled before... and my grandma who lived just down the driveway had a WP (kenmore TL) washer and it didn't smell at all. I spent more time at my grandmas house than my house...she used warm water for colors and hot water for whites and LCB only in whites. Never a smell in her washer while ours had that funk about it... and I think our washer was even newer than hers. And my grandma's house did not have AC.. I think my step mom must have just had bad laundry habits. I'm not sure if she used cold water only but I'm thinking it's likely she did...that and no bleach spell disaster. All the places I've rented in the past that had either a WP TL washer or Kenmore WP TL washer... I don't ever remember them smelling. I always used warm for colors and hot for whites and bleach with whites (like my grandma) and I never had an issue with any smell. One thing I will say......although I know you're supposed to leave the door slightly open on a FL (which I do) I never remember leaving the lid up on any TL washer I ever had... Why? I don't know. It seems logical to leave it up... but I never did.

Post# 1148160 , Reply# 8   5/6/2022 at 21:00 (718 days old) by DADoES (TX,†U.S. of A.)        

dadoes's profile picture

I may have previously posted these pics.† A 1999 KM DD that my mother used for 6 years (2012 to 2018) until it developed a neutral drain failure and a leak.† It had done some moderate refurbishing at the time and it was pristine in 2012.† I swapped in an F&P in 2018 which recently developed bad bearings* after 4 years.† I refurbed the KM again in 2018 when it was pulled from service (neutral drain kit and new agitator shaft among a couple other things) and it's now back in service.

The pics are the KM at refurb disassembly in 2018.† Mom ran it primarily with cold water (tap cold, not even ATC) and uses liquid detergent such as Arm & Hammer, Gain, Tide Simply (yellow jug).

I have emphasized repeatedly to avoid cold water.† I was there today.† I checked a load of sheets she had running, cold water and the detergent dose was not sufficient (water not slippery).† The next load of towels was warm water but also insufficient detergent.† I called her to the machine and explained how to check for for slippery water (I added more so she could feel the difference).† Remains to be seen if she follows through.

*This is the first time I've run across an F&P develop bad bearings.† May be her useage habits were a contributing factor.† Their plumber pointedly mentioned recently when replacing one of their water heaters and a (admittedly nearly 50yo) bathtub faucet that "[the town] has poor water quality."

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 4         View Full Size
Post# 1148161 , Reply# 9   5/6/2022 at 21:30 (718 days old) by qsd-dan (West)        

qsd-dan's profile picture
Neutral drain is basically the main reason for the stench. Accumulation builds up near the top of the basket/outer tub/agitator (can be seen in Glenns pictures) and isn't washed away with a spin drain. All machines (top load/front load, spin drain/neutral drain) are prone to this from long term poor washing habits but in the realm of top loaders, neutral draining machines are much more prevalent to the issue. Use warm (100F) and hot water (140F+) as much as possible.

Post# 1148172 , Reply# 10   5/6/2022 at 23:26 (718 days old) by mark_wpduet (Lexington KY)        

mark_wpduet's profile picture
Your mom won't listen (LOL)

Truthfully - it's been so long since I've used a TL washer...I don't even know how much detergent would be "not enough or too much" since the whole FL vs TL water ratio is so different..since you can't really trust manufacturer recommendations...I'd have to start all over trying to learn proper dosing for a TL washer. LOL

as far as the top of the washer and agitator that gets build up... I always felt like spray rinses helped somewhat with rinses that away...but I guess if you're using cold water there's only so much that can do.

Post# 1148177 , Reply# 11   5/7/2022 at 01:04 (718 days old) by Maytag85 (Sean A806)        

maytag85's profile picture
The neutral drain does have something to do with build up on the outer tubs on the direct drives but oddly enough my Ď63 Whirlpool doesnít seem to accumulate anything on the outer tub surfaces but then again all the temperatures are built into the timer so I am forced to either use hot or warm water. There arenít any holes on the tub of the belt drive washer tubs along with the enamel being a bit more slippery doesnít allow for much to build up to accumulate along with the multiple spray rinses they do while the direct drives only do 2 spray rinses on the final spin and not on the first spin.

As much as the direct drive washers are a favorite of mine, they have a few design flaws that werenít really worked out since they had a tendency to accumulate gook on the outer tub and that can be because of the holes towards the tub while their belt drive predecessors didnít have any holes towards the top that allowed build up because of those holes. The lack of spray rinses was another flaw Whirlpool never bothered fixing and yes the early direct drive and Catalyst washers did to spray rinses on the first spin but all the other direct drives didnít have any spray rinses on the first spin which allowed for build up to happen since there wasnít anything to help rinse away the detergent.

Post# 1148180 , Reply# 12   5/7/2022 at 02:09 (718 days old) by mrboilwash (Munich,Germany)        

mrboilwash's profile picture
Didn`t Whirlpool DD washers have a "self cleaning" comb like lint filter under the wash basket for some time?
This could explain a lot.

Post# 1148198 , Reply# 13   5/7/2022 at 09:23 (718 days old) by DADoES (TX,†U.S. of A.)        

dadoes's profile picture

I trashed the under-basket filter at the 2012 refurb.† The basket was replaced at that time (not again at the 2018 refurb).

Post# 1148418 , Reply# 14   5/10/2022 at 16:57 (714 days old) by norgechef (Saint George New Brunswick )        
Seems cold water washing is the main culprit but...

I never thought it might the neutral drain that could cause it. Makes sense though. However, I haven't noticed the smell on any GE'S or Frigidaire (WCI/Electrolux), etc, top load washers made around the same time, which also did neutral drains. Maybe the plastic tubs were less likely to accumulate residue? Or the rinsing action is better. I know the Frigidaire's did a veryyyy long spray rinse. And had indexing tubs. Despite the bad rap they get, I miss my 2008 White-Westinghouse branded WCI/Electrolux top loader. Cleaned/rinsed well even with a basic straight-vane agitator, and never had an out-of-balance load even once.

I find that these WP/KM direct drive machines leave a lot to be desired in terms of rinsing performance. Agitation/cleaning is about the same as most other top loaders I've had, however, you basically have to reduce the load size by at least 1/4th if you have a model with a straight-vane agitator. The direct drive washers do not have a long enough back and forth agitation stroke to produce much movement of the load without a dual or triple action agitator. So many people I know have these washers but have bad agitator dogs and don't even notice it, and don't care to replace them.

My aunt, who does a lot of laundry with a large family and pets has a TOL 2004 Kenmore TL and it has had the drive coupler replaced twice, agitator dogs once (only because the repair man noticed it), and she only ever uses the tap cold setting, not the ATC one. Along with the Regular (slow) agitation speed. There is so much build-up its disgusting. Thick film of brown sludge at the top of the drum, and she also uses a ton of fabric softener so the dispenser is very gunked up. The washer is in the basement in a bathroom and you can smell it just coming down the stairs. No clothes getting clean in that thing. Most other washers of that age would be long gone due to a major failure being used that way.

Post# 1148419 , Reply# 15   5/10/2022 at 17:06 (714 days old) by norgechef (Saint George New Brunswick )        
Also...people just don't listen.

No matter how many times you tell people to use warm or hot water they will not listen. I almost always do because I can't stand the smell of musty/stinky towels and face-cloths, and also just know a cold wash couldn't possibly kill much, or any bacteria.

My grandmother has a TOL LG front loader she bought new last February, with a built-in heater and I've told her countless times to use warm or hot water always. She says the salesmen told her the heater heated the water so she doesn't need to *eyeroll*. But then is always complaining her clothes don't smell clean and that the machine stinks. She just doubles the dose of her cheap detergent. ''I'll never buy another front-loader'' she'll say.

Can't blame her going from an older Maytag TL however. She doesn't understand how to use it, like a lot of people. Like @mark_wpduet said, you have to get used to changing the way you dose detergent, additives, the way you do laundry in general as front-loaders use so much less water. There is no option for a deep water wash or rinse like some HE top loaders have. There is a ''water plus'' option on some but still doesn't add a lot more.

I have to run her LG through 2-3 cleaning cycles in a row every couple months. It astounds me how little water it uses. And even selecting hot water on some cycles, the water is lukewarm at best. Doesn't rinse worth a damn either. My 2007 Kenmore HE5T FL (WP Duet) uses more water in comparison and rinses much better, and even that seems to use too little a lot of the time. They've gone too far with the lowering of water levels in HE machines. I'd take a Maytag Neptune, Frigidaire/Electrolux or WP/KM FL made before 2011-12 any day. Anything other than or after that, forget it.

Post# 1148428 , Reply# 16   5/10/2022 at 19:08 (714 days old) by GELaundry4ever (Nacogdoches, TX, USA)        
Here's my thought

A lot of us who transition from top to front loaders become overwhelmed with the amount of technology and buttons. That was the case with my mom in 2007 when she got her top of the line LG Tromm. Months later in 2008, she showed me how to use it. It did get the clothes clean and dry, but it was a learning curve.
One thing I noticed on the dryer was the normal cycle used a medium heat temperature, but also noticed the airflow was higher than the GE. We used all 3 temperatures depending on what we were washing, but used the normal cycle more than often than not.

Post# 1148472 , Reply# 17   5/11/2022 at 09:21 (714 days old) by maytaga806 (Howell, Michigan)        

maytaga806's profile picture
Mine has never smelled. Iíd love for it to smell like used detergent and softener but it never does no matter what. Now I do leave the lid open most of the time. I love the smell of a used washerÖ.delicious 🤤🤤🤤 or even better, the smell of the inside of a used dishwasher MMMMMMMMMMM!! Most of the time it smells delicious like cascade, Iíve yet to smell a bad smelling dishwasher or washer really. But this happens in all of them not just direct drives and DDs smell the least Iíve noticed

Post# 1148489 , Reply# 18   5/11/2022 at 14:36 (713 days old) by GELaundry4ever (Nacogdoches, TX, USA)        

I love the smell of freshly used washers also. I also noticed that the direct drive whirlpools smell the least and the GE filter-flos smell the most.

Post# 1148490 , Reply# 19   5/11/2022 at 14:57 (713 days old) by mark_wpduet (Lexington KY)        

mark_wpduet's profile picture
Yep - definitely a learning curve. If I went back to a TL washer after 17 years it would be another learning curve for me..LOL

Another thing (this is just a wild guess) is that people who get FL washers not only will use cold water/too much detergent or not enough) but they also just leave it on the normal cycle which is the cycle that uses the energy guide. In other words..the most stingy with everything

I've seen videos of the recent LG's and from what I've seen of some of their cycles it looks like they're using as much and sometimes MORE water than my Duet from 2005

If you stick your head in my would smell that clothes are clean smell. Never had an issue that all these people have had over the years that even cause manufacturers to redesign their machines.

the only thing I do manually clean about every 3 months which takes about 5 min's is the boot (inside and out) and wipe the glass down...and I just use rubber gloves and a clean rag and super hot kettle water..

Forum Index:       Other Forums:                      

Comes to the Rescue!

The Discuss-o-Mat has stopped, buzzer is sounding!!!
If you would like to reply to this thread please log-in...

Discuss-O-MAT Log-In

New Members
Click Here To Sign Up.

Discuss-o-Mat Forums
Vintage Brochures, Service and Owners Manuals
Fun Vintage Washer Ephemera
See It Wash!
Video Downloads
Audio Downloads
Picture of the Day
Patent of the Day
Photos of our Collections
The Old Aberdeen Farm
Vintage Service Manuals
Vintage washer/dryer/dishwasher to sell?
Technical/service questions?
Looking for Parts?
Website related questions?
Digital Millennium Copyright Act Policy
Our Privacy Policy