Consumer Reports

Front-Loader Odor? Prevent Mold and Mildew in Your Washer

Consumer Reports shares tips to keep the stink away

NBC Universal, Inc.

Is there a funky smell coming from your washing machine? If you have a front-loader, it could be mold or mildew. The problem's been around for years, but why? Consumer Reports scientists have some explanations and solutions if your front-loader has an odor.

Over the years, manufacturers have made design changes to try to combat the mold issue. But that hasn’t solved the problem, so some of them have gone back to the drawing board.

Last spring CR tested a new front-loader from GE designed to eliminate excess moisture, which causes mold and mildew. It reduced humidity levels inside the drum, but CR says that’s not a guarantee bacteria won’t grow.

Mold spores can be found anywhere you wear your clothes. So when you toss them into the washer, there might be residual detergent, leftover lint, hair, and other organic material. Add to that lingering moisture in the machine and mold can flourish.

Many frustrated consumers end up buying a new washing machine. CR’s tests are finding that many high-efficiency top-loaders perform nearly as well as many of the recommended front-loaders.

Among them is the LG WT7100CW, a CR Best Buy for about $650. It offers excellent performance and water efficiency, plus very good energy efficiency.

If you’re shopping for a matching pair, the LG DLE7100W Electric clothes dryer also did well in CR’s tests, earning an excellent rating for performance and reliability. The set will cost you about $1,300.

But if you’re stuck with or committed to the benefits of a front-loader, CR says there are steps you can take to help prevent mold and mildew.

  • Run the tub-clean feature regularly.
  • If your washer doesn't have that feature, run an empty washer on the hottest water temperature setting with a cup of bleach.
  • After the last load of the day, dry the inside of the door and the rubber gasket, carefully pulling it back to clean away residue.
  • Between loads, open the dispensers to give them a chance to dry.
  • If there aren’t any young kids in your home, keep the washer door open between loads to give the washer's interior a chance to dry out.
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