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Front Loader Washer = No Mold; Does One Exist

stockwatch
12 years ago

I think I finally have gotten tired of looking at the mold around the gasket of our Whirlpool Duet that we purchased at Lowes back in 2007. I have talked with Lowes about replacing the gasket (as many of you all know, it is apparently not under warranty) and figure with the costs to repair, I might as well buy a replacement (yes, I have tried blease, Affresh, etc. to no avail).

The world has changed with much more marketing gizmos and an abundances of other suppliers.

Question for all of my wise forum family members.

Have you found a front load washer that survives the no mold test or is this just a pipe dream?

The salesman at sears told me that in his "expert" opinion, Samsung model that happened to also be the most expensive does the trick. You just need to remember to keep the door cracked.

Comments (83)

  • dadoes
    12 years ago

    Another aspect is people who don't sort according to fabric type and don't use the appropriate cycles ... instead tossing everything in on "normal" because "that's what I did with my old machine and everything came out fine." Sorting may often be done by simple color -- darks and lights -- possibly putting dark denim jeans with navy polyester/knit slacks, which two kind of items have completely different washing needs. This situation is often exacerbated by the super-large capacity of the latest frontloaders ... the machines are touted as taking a huge load, which prompts the consumer cut back on sorting, putting everything together, so as to create those very large loads.

    Folks need to understand that the new-fangled machine with all those cycles and options isn't your old washer and usage habits need to change accordingly.

  • livebetter
    12 years ago

    @dadoes brings up a good point. I have considered getting the smaller European size machines but wonder how I'll clean my king size items.

    Can you do really small loads in a Miele W48XX?

    I would think multiple smaller loads would be better for laundry needs (except when one wants to wash a large item).

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  • steveomc
    12 years ago

    It might be a good idea to see if the water is completely draining, a slightly slow drain or clogged filter might be leaving a small amount of water in the bottom of the machine, if your drain is high or drain hose is slightly bent, it could cause some of these problems.

  • asolo
    12 years ago

    steveomc...

    With respect....there are no machines extant to my knowledge that do not leave a small amount of water in the bottom of the machine after every cycle. Dishwashers, too. Drain hoses are REQUIRED to be high, for heaven's sake.

  • farmgirl_2010
    12 years ago

    Always, always, always leave your door open just a bit. This will allow air to circulate inside your machine and then there should be no mold problem.

  • fordtech
    12 years ago

    Some machines have ventilation built into the doors to the outside.

  • asolo
    12 years ago

    "Can you do really small loads in a Miele W48XX? I would think multiple smaller loads would be better for laundry needs (except when one wants to wash a large item)."

    You can do small loads in ANY of the new machines. They don't care. They adjust water volume, etc., to accommodate. All you have to do is put the right amount of detergent in.

    No matter how large your machine's capacity, there will always be something you have to wash that's too large to fit. Laundromats and commercial laundries are still with us.

  • hisown
    12 years ago

    I think some of you are over-thinking this. I have my second Frigidaire front loader, and have NEVER had any mold on either machine. I just leave the door wide open when it's not in use.

  • mrjms
    12 years ago

    I purchased a Maytag Neptune front loader washer and dryer May 1999. This is the second model Maytag came out with. To date, I have had no problems whatsoever with either machine, no mold or mildew. After each wash, I turn off the water, wipe out the boot, and leave the door open until ready to do the next wash. Detergent used is either Wisk liquid or Sears powdered with Oxyclean. I do hot, warm and cold washes. I use downey for all loads. Common sense: You HAVE to leave the door open after finished washing to allow air to dry out the machine. Mold and mildew thrive and grow in dark, damp environments.

  • gates1
    12 years ago

    mrjms,,,,,good post there and one of your key statements is that you wash in all temperatures which helps prevent the build up in a washer. Sad part is, this build up takes place in conventional washers too, between the drums, it just doesnt always smell bad, usually it smells like detergent buildup when you open the lid. The lid is not air tight so it prevents mold growth. I tore apart my friends Toploader and he was shocked to what we cleaned out of the outer drum. HE washes mainly in cold water. It was a brown thick build up all over the top half of the drum, took lots of hot water and a strong spray cleaner to get rid of it.

  • 071203
    7 years ago

    everyone seemed to miss the original point. The issue of mold is real. First, if the machine is even slightly out of level the residual water will pool in places. This is common in basements where the floors have been poured with fall towards a floor drain. In some machines this risk is higher specifically because of the design. Some gaskets have folds in them that trap water, some designs are very different and allow water to shed better. And old gasket also breaks down and is more susceptible to mold. So it's fine for the first four years or so and then suddenly you can't get rid of the mold. It does also permeate the interior beyond what you can see. The other condition is related to where you live. Dry climates will likely never know this mold issue. Units that are in the upstairs of conditioned homes are also better off. But if you live in the south and have your machines in the basement, you really have to have a dehumidifier in addition to religiously leaving the door open. Even then I think some machines are just more prone as a result of design. It has everything to do with conditions unrelated to the operating features or detergents you use.

  • emaemes
    7 years ago

    I've had two front loaders, and I've never had a mold or smell issue. I always keep the door and soap dispenser open, when not in use. I've noticed that many people don't do that, and I've gotten calls from friends complaining about this problem. It definitely has worked for me.

  • gatesmannc
    7 years ago

    I had a kenmore HE3T front loding washer for over 10 yrs, washed mainly in warm and hot water. I used the sanitary cycle at least once or twice a week. In ever once had a mold or odor problem with my machine. I didn't wipe the gasket down or leave the door open when I was finished. Using too much detergent, and fabric softener along with cold water washes enhances the mold odor issue.

  • qofmiwok
    6 years ago

    This is an old post but still shows up on searches. I think most people just do not know how to look for the mold under the gasket. It is probably there. Sure, you can "minimize" with various methods, but the only foolproof way is to dry the gasket off each time. Unfortunately my house is a vacation rental part of the year and I have no way to force people to leave the door open or to dry off the gasket. So we have begun replacing it every year.

  • fordtech
    6 years ago

    Well if that works for you thats great, but its really overkill. For example that annual replacement on a Maytag Neptune would cost about 300 dollars if you pay someone to do it.

    Regular maintenance trumps overkill IMHO. Ive only replaced my seal once in almost 12 years and that was just because I was refurbishing the machine anyway less than 2 years ago.

    Now a vacation rental makes it a quasi commercial machine so maybe overkill is necessary. But the average home owner just doesnt need that kind of annual expense, just proper usage.

    Of course thats just IMHO

  • emaemes
    6 years ago

    Hi, I am on my third front load washer. My first, a Bosch. I moved and bought an Asko front load stacked washer and ventless dryer (only ventless allowed in my building). The dryer broke and was too expensive to repair.

    i then purchased a Bosch front loader with ventless stacked dryer.

    i've never had an issue with mold. It has always been my habit to leave the washer door and the soap dispenser, open. In the new Bosch, the gasket, or whatever that rubber thing that seals the washer doo is called, , collects water. I dry thoroughly and leave the door open.

    i do a lot of laundry. Occasionally I do a cold water wash. Whatever. I've never had a problem and I would go nuts. I'm a clean freak and that is a no no.

    BTW, when I had a top loader I did the same thing.

    just thought I'd share my experience with you. Emaemes

  • qofmiwok
    6 years ago

    fordtech, easy for you to say. You obviously are not severely affected by mold as I am. I spent 10 years barely able to get out of bed due to illness from it. Most people have no idea how devastating it can be.

  • User
    5 years ago

    As someone suffering from a mold/mildew problem in a front-loader washer, I have to say after reading these posts that the typical user here is full of obnoxious hubris. "Well, I have that washer and I don't have a problem, so you must be the problem."
    Absolutely unhelpful. And I realize this post was from 6 years ago, but if it comes up in Google search top 10, people are still reading it. Front-loader washers have mold problems. I don't care if you don't think it's there... you are probably wrong. There are articles after articles posted at this point and even class action lawsuits.

    And in response to the "cost" of maintaining, it is alarming how much a door boot (gasket) costs and at the point of a 5-10 year old machine, it is not worth buying a boot and replacing it.

    Finally, if you are one that has said "Well, I leave the door open and the tray open and I never have a problem" - You are doing something that you shouldn't have to do in the first place because there IS a problem. DUH.

  • suburbanmd
    5 years ago

    Look at my posts from back then, and you'll see that I'm sympathetic to what you're saying. I do believe there are some bad front-loaders.


    That said, have you tried all the recommendations to avoid mold? Keep the door ajar (sorry). Do frequent hot washes, and the rest mostly warm. If the hot water supply runs cold for a while when the cycle starts, run a nearby faucet to flush out the cold before starting the machine. Use powder detergent instead of liquid. Avoid really cheap detergents, and use an effective amount of detergent, not the miniscule quantities recommended by some people, even technicians. Avoid fabric softener. If you've cleaned the machine, then followed these recommendations, and mold comes back, then maybe your machine is hopeless.

  • suburbanmd
    5 years ago

    One more thing: Avoid the "normal" cycle because it generally uses the lowest temperatures and least water.

  • dadoes
    5 years ago

    "Shannon Pringle: I use a measured tablespoon of tide ..."

    Tide liquid or powder? Liquids are known to promote mold accumulation with some water conditions. And 1 tablespoon may not be enough for every load.

  • livebetter
    5 years ago

    You need enough detergent to actually suspend dirt and allow it to wash away. If body oils etc deposit on the outer drum you can get biofilm that mold thrives on.

  • littlegreeny
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Shannon, it sounds like your water chemistry plus liquid Tide might be the issue. First, I'd try switching to Tide powder and see if that solves your problem. My SIL was using liquid Tide and had issues with FL stink. She switched to liquid All and the problem disappeared.

  • Shannon Pringle
    5 years ago

    Sorry I wasn't clear, I use powder because of the previously mentioned reasons/research. I've landed on a tablespoon because I notice suds around the gasket if I use more. I have done a lot of experimentation, different detergent, borax, baking soda, washing soda.

  • littlegreeny
    5 years ago

    Shannon, try running the clean cycle with no laundry or any cleaners, bleach, etc. If there are suds, you have residue which can cause odor issues.

    Do you use any laundry boosters? Borax is a great natural booster and may actually help keep the mildew smell at bay.

    As a last resort, you might need to do a strip of your laundry to get rid of the excess detergent and hard water residue and start from scratch.

  • dadoes
    5 years ago

    I use 3 to 5 tablespoons of Tide HE powder in my HE toploader. Well-water, no softener, but I add STPP. Some mild to moderate suds during the wash period is not to be considered a problem.

  • mamapinky0
    5 years ago

    As far as **noticing suds around the gasket** HE detergent is not suds free...some suds is not an indication that you've used enough. I have soft city water I use between 3to 5 T as Dadoes does. Yes I'm going to have some suds but that normal unless your using Rosalies Zero suds detergent.

    As others have said if your not using enough detergent your machine will get the grunge. I would follow your manual as for a clean cycle using bleach. Also use bleach water to scrub the gasket.

    My Duet is yet young. A yearold, but I do tons of laundry and it looks and smells as sweet as it was new.

  • ci_lantro
    5 years ago

    Is the washer in a humid basement? Do you run a dehumidifier?

    Have you tried cleaning the washer & gasket w/ a quaternary disinfectant?

  • Shannon Pringle
    4 years ago
    Hey! I know it’s been a long time, but someone liking my first post reminded me to update. Because of some of the comments above, I started using more detergent and oxiclean, and by-golly it worked! No more stinky clothes!
    Of course, right after I got it sorted out, we ended up putting that washer and dryer in our rental and I am now using some old school top loader while I remodel my basement, while my brand new Samsung washer (couldn’t find any bad reviews anywhere) waits in my garage, still in its packaging, just ticking down its warranty time.

    Anyway, I wanted to say thanks for the help!
  • HU-381178092
    last year

    This has been really helpful - thank you! I think i'm off to buy a top-loader now as we discovered today that mould is ALL OVER the inside of the rubber part (I only thought it was a small portion!) of my machine :( My new integrative doctor tested me suspecting mould poisoning (really expensive and came back positive) because of all the really nasty symptoms that I have had (that I went to her about) and have gotten worse the past 9 years! Now I'm having to start mould elimination diet/treatment. The symptoms are real (including nasty neurological ones - including tremors) and we've been thinking all along that I have MS! :/


    Don't have mouldy washing machines folks, PLEASE get rid of them - don't even pass them on!!!


    Have a read if interested:


    https://healinghistamine.com/blog/the-mold-histamine-link/

  • dadoes
    last year

    HU-381178092, don't be fooled into believing that toploaders can't accumulate mold. They absolutely can. Here are some pics of a few I've cleaned up.









  • anoop
    last year

    @dadoes What would cause that mold? Is it something in the water that makes mold formation more likely? When I live in NC, I don't remember every worrying about or encountering mold. Since moving to CA, every apartment or house I have lived in seems to be very susceptible to mold.

  • doreycrouse
    last year

    dadoes, thank you for posting that!

    I have used TL machines that smell far worse than my FL!

  • vinmarks
    last year
    last modified: last year

    I had a top loader that looked worse than the pics dadoes posted. We had to bring the whole tub into our shower to clean it. It was caused by me not knowing much about laundry and washing machines. They had cold water detergent so hey we don't need warm or hot washes. Never used bleach because we had no whites. I don't even know if they had washing machine cleaner back then or not that I knew about so never did any kind of clean cycle on the washer. Now I know better.

  • fordtech
    last year

    A hot wash a week will keep the heebie Jeebies away. I use powder detergents and no fabric softner in the wash. I started this method 15 years ago and have not had a repeat of the goop that formed in my front loader when I used exclusively cold water and liquid detergent and liquid softener for 4 years. It was a horrible mess you dont want.

  • PRO
    Landscape Design in a Day
    last year

    There are three places to clean for the typical rubber \gasket on a front loader....that you can reach t clean each time you use your washer. You cannot clean the back side of the last rubber rim that is right next to the exterior drum (the place where your clothes go). If you live in a moist place eg the pacific northwest and you have a front loader washer you probably have mold. You just can't see it and luckily for you, you and your family are not having any obvious health problems from it. Lots and lots of people are not so lucky. I bought two of these one for each property I own and nope I didn't do the maintenance they recommend but I never left the door shut on my front loader. Today I have mold in the washer, in my laundry room, in the clothes that are next to my skin, every sheet and pillow case for 2 homes. (1 I rent out or will rent out once I get a new washer) Everyone in our house has health problems that are probably related to the mold, including our dog. I was trying to be environmental so I washed in cold water so maybe if you used bleach every time and hot water and hand cleaned the 3 places you can reach it would not as bad as my situation. I will replace this product at both properties once I am done with mold remediation. We the consumer wanted to do the right thing for the environment. Front loaders save half the water of a top loader. I was so excited that I could do something that big toward saving water.


    Now I have to laugh....because otherwise life is just too weird....When we purchased this appliance I decided I would not read the appliance booklet or do the maintenance it recommends because my partner never does..so in a fit of pique I didn't read it either. There was nothing in it to warn that their design was guaranteed to cause mold and mildew unless you treat their washer like another pet or child in your family. But if I had followed their instructions I could have washed a load of laundry in hot water at least once a week and used their wash the machine program once a month. That would have been better than putting my head in the sand. In my defense. I made my purchase several years ago and the serious mold in a front loading washer was not well known at that time. Although now I see I missed out on my $20 or whatever from a class action suit, one that closed in 2015 and 1 in 2017.

  • luna123456
    last year

    All of the EPA, Green, Eco Nazis telling you to wash in cold water have zero care about hygiene for the humans using the device and the machine itself.


    If you want to reduce your water consumption buy more durable clothes and dont chase fast fashion. Creating cheap textiles that chase fast fashion wastes significantly more water and resources than washing durable ones.


    The health of yourself and your family is not worth worrying about using less water or less energy. Wisdom comes with age and experience. Younger people tend to dismiss the hard learned wisdom of those older than them. its not until we are older that we learn certain difficult lessons.


    You can lead a horse to water, but you cant make him drink.

  • andersons21
    last year
    • Never use any SOAP. Soap and its residues promote mold & bacterial biofilms.
    • Use hot and warm water (except for wool and silk). Very hot for bedding, if possible.
    • Don't use vinegar. Low pH promotes some microorganisms.

    I've had my Whirpool Duet front-loader about 12 years now, and it's still pristine. I almost always use Hot or Warm wash, and Extra Hot for bedding. I use liquid Tide, and more recently, Sal's Suds + baking soda for darks. I always leave the door ajar. I used to dry the gasket thoroughly (including reaching inside it for the water that pools there), but in recent years I noticed that I don't have to do even that. The heat from the dryer running in the small room and the powerful vent fan on the ceiling get the machine dry enough soon enough.


    The Duet manual prescribes monthly extra-long extra-hot cycle with Affresh (which is basically the same as OxiClean), but I haven't needed to do those at all either. Might as well use the heat to get our bedding and clothes really clean, instead of using cold all the time for fabrics and then a super-hot wash just for the machine itself.


    People complain about "mold," but there are many microorganisms that form nasty biofilms especially with soap scum residues. We used to have horrible slimes form in our shower because my partner insisted on using bar soap. After switching to liquid body wash, which uses detergents that don't form scums with the minerals in hard water, NO MORE SLIMES. Some of the slimes were molds, others were bacterial. Even though we never have the discipline to squeegee or dry off our shower walls, no more molds or slimes have formed in years now.


    I notice the OP mentioned using a lot of vinegar. I don't recommend vinegar; it might leave a lower pH residue that is hospitable to some microorganisms.

  • dadoes
    last year

    A clean boot and no odor is a positive indication of good condition but there's no way to be 100% sure on the exterior of the inner drum, support spider, and interior of the outer tub without disassembly.

  • jejvtr
    12 months ago

    My Miele is 16 yrs old - I leave door open, AND take the soap dispenser out after every load. Wipe the gasket all around in nooks and crannies on occassion - Clean soap dispenser - inside machine and externally - Occasionally see small spots black mold in past 2 years - never stinky odor -


  • anoop
    12 months ago
    last modified: 12 months ago

    @jejvtr did you ever have to replace the gasket? BTW I had biack spots on mine when I wasn’t wiping the gasket dry. I also run a sanitize cycle with Affresh every now and then.

  • pizzamoon
    3 months ago

    I realize this is a really old thread, but I thought I'd throw my own 2 cents in. One of the biggest differences between the days of old, when top loaders were the only choice available, 1. powder detergents and 2. bleach and 3. hot water, was a regular part of people's laundry regiment.

    4. Laundry day was also once a week. All contributing to a cleaner dryer machine.


    Nowadays, ppl are using lower temperature water, liquid detergents (which has starches in them to THICKEN them, more fabric softeners w more gummy starches, or the pellets of scent beads which are basically WAX candles, everyone is afraid of clorox bleach, bc of environmental regulations, machines are programmed to use less water, also doing mostly cold water washes....and everyday is laundry day. The machine never gets to dry out, and the films built up on machines. Once mold starts, its very difficult to remove.


    I've been using front loader for 2 decades, and mold was an issue to some extent when I was using liquid detergents, but occasionally I also used bleach, and I was much too lazy to use liquid softners, which minimized the mold problem. About 8 years ago, I switched to Tide w bleach alternative powder. I never close my door...bc lazy. I never thought about it, till now, but I no longer have mold issues at all. Except when I did a short stint of liquid fabric softner and discovered mold all underneath my dispenser. I now no longer use it.


    So I believe the changes in consumer habits drivien by marketing and enviromental regulations have changed the enviroment of our washing machines to be more favorable to mold and bacteria, and it doesn't matter if its a top loader or front loader. I have a neighbor who uses liquid detergent and fabric softer w a top loader and she washes everything in cold water to save energy and money, and I swear, when ever her family sweats (our kids are the same age and use to hang out together,) I smell the mildew. It's even in the clean towels she handed me.


    If you have mold, do several washes w bleach, also spraying it down and wiping the machine with it AND you will probably need an ozone machine set to disinfect your house of mold and bacteria bc the spores will be everywhere in your house and once you wet the machine, problem will come back.


  • dadoes
    3 months ago

    PizzaMoon, you are spot-on. The changes in laundry habits over the past 20 years are the primary contributing factors to moldy washers. Softeners in the past were marketed for softening fabrics with scent an added benefit. The proliferation of scented products nowadays are an attempt to combat the foul odor.

  • luna123456
    3 months ago

    One simple change: use a machine with an onboard heater and do a 60C (140F) wash at least a couple times a week. We do them daily for towels and whites. Never a mold problem and we use 100% liquids.


    Routine hot/sanitize washes will keep a machine clean without chlorine bleach. Oxygen bleach in hot water does a fantastic job of killing mold and bacteria as well.

  • pizzamoon
    3 months ago

    Yes, hot washes are a given especially for towels and sheets, and I have an onboard heater, however I think the mold issue severity can vary from home to home. I live in a building that is almost 200 years old, and lets just say the air circulation isn't great and the previous tenant was super green.

  • Shannon Pringle
    3 months ago

    I only use hot water, sometimes use bleach, use oxiclean, etc. It still smells on my dark clothes sometimes and the only thing that helps is to cross my fingers and run a cycle with some bleach, this is with my 3 year old machine that has been babied since I got it.

    I had gotten my first machine (the one I originally posted this about) to not make my clothes smell anymore (I hadn’t been using enough detergent apparently), but I moved the unit into my rental and despite me giving the tenant a rundown on how to keep it good, it was disgusting again when he left. I now have the unit as an airbnb and I have been doing everything I can to get the washer back up to snuff. It doesn’t make sheets smell, but I also take them out the second they are finished washing. I hate laundry so much these days.

  • pizzamoon
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Mold and mildew is tough, once the spores are in your house, it's everywhere and it lands back onto sheets and towels, when you do your next wash, it's back. Try and sanitize w an ozone machine in the apartment and with the darks, try Lysol Sanitizing Rinse (It's not disinfecting, so i assume a stronger concentration over a longer period of time would be more effective.) I use Tide w alternative bleach powder for everything except the darks, and those I use Lysol Laundry Sanitizer. Perhaps do a soak after washing. The spores arent' just in the machine anymore, it's in the air too.

    People who don't have a mold problem are lucky. We live in a really humid city w no central air, it can get pretty bad w just a window a/c unit which I constantly have to disinfect regularly.

  • hisown
    2 months ago

    I have ALWAYS kept my washing machine's door wide open. I use ONLY powder detergent and I use citric acid powder and white vinegar in the fabric softener tray. As a result, I have NEVER had any mold.

  • Steve S
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Most washers with a sanitize cycle will heat the wash temperature between 140° and 160°. This is sufficient to kill most of the mold species provided the temp is sustained for at least 25 minutes.

    One of the reasons why Europeans have fewer problems with this than we do is that they plug into 230V vs 120V for most of us in North America. European washer have a higher capacity heating element built into the washer and can use the extra voltage to quickly raise the water temperature up to 99 C or ( 210° F ), just shy of boiling temperature. Europeans don't usually use bleach in laundry like us Americans do.. they just use really hot water to kill the germs. And heat is generally more effective than bleach in this regard.

    Also according to Consumer Reports, the mold in your washer is usually coming from your clothes. Mold being everywhere in the environment spores will land on your clothes and inevitably make their way into the dark moist confines of your washer. It's about as unrealistic to not expect mold to grow in that environment as it would be to expect a self cleaning mold free shower.

    So far that's how I keep my Miele clean... frequent use of the hot sani-cycle. And I always wipe out the drum/gasket and leave the door open to vent after use.

    Again, heat is really the key consider the other appliance in your house that should also be a breeding ground for mold and yet generally isn't.. the dishwasher.

    Having said all that I wonder if it's possible for them to make a metallic copper washer tub? Since literally nothing bacteria, viruses nor mold/mildew can survive more than a few hours on this surface.