Sparkle & Smile

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Healthy Home

How to Get Rid of Washing Machine Odors

December 03, 2013


Let’s talk laundry for a second.  Two years ago I bought my dream washer and dryer…an Electrolux High Efficiency front load washer and a beautiful dryer to match.  I was in heaven!  With five people in the house and three kids on year-round travel teams, I always have quite a bit  of laundry to do.  Having a high efficiency washer allows me to wash larger loads of laundry at once, which helps this busy working mom out a lot!

After a month of using my washer, however, I started noticing a moldy smell coming from my washer, especially right after washing a load of laundry.  Sometimes the smell would be mild, but other times it would stink so badly that my clean laundry would smell like mold.  Because I was so in love with my new washer, the last thing I wanted to do was send it back to the store.  I asked around to see if my friends had the same issues with their washers, and sure enough, they did.

laundryFront load washers are designed for high efficiency operation while using less water and low energy.  The down side of this, however, is that the machine cannot properly clean itself, and sometimes it leaves a buildup of detergent and grime under the rubber door gasket.  Excess soap and grime can also keep some areas damp.  Because of the lower water level, “washed residue” (grime, dirt, skin flakes and detergent) does not always fully drain out of a front load washer.  Over time, mold can begin to form, and the washer starts to smell.  Sounds gross, but there is hope!

Tide came out with a high efficiency cleaner that supposedly helps with the smell, but it costs six dollars, and it is, of course, full of toxic ingredients.  Tide’s cleaner also has to be used every few weeks.  Because I am a firm believer in finding greener alternatives to cleaning, I decided to take a different approach and come up with ways to combat the moldy smell naturally.

Here are a few:

  • Always leave the door and dispenser unit slightly open after the laundry is done so the washer and the detergent/softener dispenser drawer can dry out.
  • Try not to leave a wet load of laundry in the washer overnight.  If possible, remove the laundry when the washing cycle is complete.  Leave the door open afterwards.
  • After a load is done, always rotate the drum with your hand to see if all the clothing was removed.
  • Use a natural liquid softener in your washer, such as hydrogen peroxide, instead of store bought softeners.
  • Switch to a liquid laundry detergent.  Sometimes powdered formulas don’t dissolve properly, which can lead to residue buildup.
  • Use LESS detergent!  This is very important!  Believe it or not, each load of laundry only needs about one tablespoon of detergent to clean your laundry!  Stick to “low suds” detergents that are specially formulated for high efficiency washers.
  • Use warm or hot water occasionally instead of cool to clean your clothes. This helps flush out wash residue.
  •  Wearing rubber gloves, clean under the rubber gasket of  your washer.  In a spray bottle, combine equal parts of white distilled vinegar and warm water.  Add a few drops of tea tree oil if you prefer.  Shake and spray.  Wipe the gasket with a micro fiber cloth.

Because I use my washer quite a bit, I clean the inside of my washer weekly, but those with smaller or less frequent laundry burdens may only need to do this one or two times a month.  This has cut down on the smell tremendously for me.

Do you have any other smell-eliminating tricks for the laundry room?  Leave a comment and let us know!



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