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Yes, I said "stink". And, I mean "stink" literally. If you don't own or use a consumer front-loading, high-efficiency (HE) washer, then you probably think I have lost my mind. But if you do use an HE washer, then there is a pretty good chance that you know what I am talking about.
About a month ago, my oldest son was standing in my laundry room and he pointed out that there was a strange odor coming from my Frigidaire Full Size Tumble Action Washer (manufactured December 2006). Then he pointed to the mold or mildew that was growing on the "flexible gasket". This was not a good bit of news, but I promised I would check it out.
So my mission started. I Googled "front-loader washer smell" (I was being polite using the word smell as opposed to odor or stink). What do you know? About 39,000 search engine results. Now I knew I had been living in the 'dark' (no pun intended) and apparently had 'grown' accustom to the odor, as all species will do over time.
I now know that this problem is not unique to my brand of front-loading HE washer and this is not a new problem. It has been going on for many years. But what amazes me is that consumers are tolerating what can only be described as a design flaw. Yes, I have now learned there have been class-action suits that have come and gone and been settled for those who were lucky enough to be in the class. But still I want to know why are we not up in arms about this potential health danger lurking in our houses, apartments, dorms, etc?
Let's think about this: home kitchen appliances might include a refrigerator, dishwasher, stove, oven, microwave, washer, dryer, and garbage disposal. Of these, the refrigerator, dishwasher, front loading washing machine and garbage disposal each have some kind of rubber or plastic covered gasket. Of these, how many of these gaskets do you routinely wipe down every day or after each use? You get my point.
For the record, last month I immediately went to ACE Hardware and purchased Iron Out® Washer Magic ($6.99) and Smellywasher.com® Cleaner ($16.99). I read a lot of on-line articles that advised me to clean the washer with a cleaner, wipe the gasket dry after each use, and leave the door of the washing machine open when not in use!
Here is what I know:
- In my lifetime I have owned three washing machines, two were top-loaders and my current one, which came with the house, is a front-loader.
- I have been doing laundry for 40+ years, I have never had to leave the door or lid of a washing machine open when not in use, for any reason.
- My Frigidaire Full Size Tumble Action Washer Use and Care Guide says: "Do NOT leave the washer door open. An open door could entice children to hang on the door or crawl inside the washer. Note: If there are no small children present, leave the door ajar to prevent odor build up and to improve venting of the unit."
- HE machines are typically more expensive than top-loaders. Frigidaire front-loaders range from $549-$1149, while Frigidaire top-loaders range from $499-$549.
- HE stands for High Efficiency and you must use HE products in a front-loader.
- HE products are typically more expensive than regular washing products.
- A new gasket costs about $300 installed.
- Tide now offers a new product Tide® Washing Machine Cleaner. Three pouches for $7.99, According to ACE Hardware's site this product "removes odor-causing residues that builds up in HE (High Efficiency) machines."
- Routine and regular cleaning your HE machine will cost extra money: Hot water, empty load, cleaning product, your TIME.
- I live in the desert. Very dry climate, low humidity. Air conditioning pulls moisture out of the air.
This week people are convening in Las Vegas for the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show #CES and I believe that Samsung is there previewing their WF448 Front-loading Washing Machine. Maybe some of my Twitter friends will stop by the SAMSUNG booth and ask about how to avoid front-loading washing machine odor.
I would like to know what you think. Have you had experience with this problem? How did you resolve it?
I invite you to check out these sites/articles regarding Front-Loading Machines.The Hidden Cost of Going Green - Wall Street Journal