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Stinky laundry? How to deal with front-loader odours

June 8, 2010 Leave a comment

We have a giant capacity washing machine. It can wash my ENTIRE king-size comforter – since there’s usually a few kids and a dog in our bed, this is a necessity. And since I’m a giant-load kind of person, it has worked out…Let’s face it, the selling feature was the promo GE was running when we got the matching dryer for $99.

8 months later, I’m noticing that maybe the dryer can’t keep up with the capacity of the washer (hmmm…maybe that’s why they’re GIVING them away?). Our clothes sometimes have that “not-so-fresh” scent. We use scent-free detergent and never use fabric softener, so our clothes usually just smell like nothing, but I had definitely been noticing a little funk. When the funk remained even after over-drying , leaving everything prickly with static, I decided to take on the washer.

I had heard of “freshening kits” , but I’m not a fan of dumping a load of chemicals in the washer that could end up back in the clothes just to clean out some dirty water. The manual is of course, long gone. So I tried this, instead*:

First of all, I coated the drum in a whole lot of baking soda. I let it sit there for a few hours to soak up the smells. Next, I dumped about a cup of vinegar on the drum and it fizzed up nicely, feeding my psychological need to see “cleaning action”. My washer has a “Basket Clean” button, but you could also just run it on the hottest cycle.

The BasketClean button

After the cycle was complete, I opened the drain plug. This is something that no one told me about. Mine was located on the front of the machine,; it may be on the side for other models. Look for a little door that you can pry off. I got my cup ready; but be warned: you need a BUCKET. About 2.5 cups of dirty, stinky water spewed out (mostly all over me as I rummaged around for a bucket). I then pulled out the physical filter, which was full of rocks and pennies (my boys’ treasures).

The plastic filter needed to be soaked in vinegar and scrubbed down as it was slimy. I also cleaned out the rubber moulding around the opening and scrubbed down the detergent tray.

Cover for the drain plug

Nasty, stinky, dirty.

Unfortunately, I didn’t secure the drain plug tightly when replacing it. It needs to be TIGHTLY screwed in or else…my next load leaked all over the floor. Luckily I was still in the laundry room and noticed the sound of waterfalls…!

Good ways to prevent future stink:

  • Leave the door open after a cycle. This allows the water to evaporate.
  • Wipe down the door after your wash cycle.
  • Use less detergent than you think you need. The cleaning process in laundry machines, especially newer front-loading models, is mostly the agitation and rubbing clothes together rather than the actual soap product. The product leaves residue and buildup in the machine, allowing the mildew to thrive. Use a pre-treater for those stains and less soap in the machine.
  • The best laundry soaps have little to no fillers. These fillers are what allow the product to suds up and they are left behind on your clothes and in your machine. They can cause sensitivity and allergies. I have been using the Norwex Ultra Power Plus; I have also heard good things about eco-brands like Seventh Generation and the Costco Eco brand. Check the label and use the minimum amount recommended.
  • Sometimes for scent, I put some drops of essential oil on an old baby sock and throw it in the dryer. It provides a barely-there scent and the air smells nice, too. I use vanilla, but it’s a dark oil so I just make sure the sock is dry before throwing it in.

Here’s to no-stink!  Got any more laundry ideas?

*Please check your manual before using any of these methods or tips; I assume no responsibility for anything you do to your washing machine!  They worked great for me!