Step 8: Washing

Picture of Washing
Front loader save water and energy, but I recently discovered they start smelling moldy after a while. Apparently this is a problem inherent to the design. You can buy super expensive tablets or use bleach and run them in an empty machine, but then you're wasting all the water and energy you'd saved... A much cheaper solution is to add borax to the wash with your clothes (20 Mule Team can be found next to other laundry detergents).

I also make my own cleaning products. It's quick, easy, cheap and green!

I'll be testing my own high borax mix for h.e. washers and I'll publish that when it's ready....
Update: don't try the high borax mix! In high concentration, borax will form crystals -- you don't want those clogging up your washing machine pipes.
PhantomOfHeat6 months ago

To prevent the smell Leave the door partially open at all times when not in use so there will be an air exchange helping dry it out and prevent mold.

If you will not be using the washer for sometime like going out of town for two weeks I would recommend doing a load with bleach (vinegar might work) then when the load is done set it to spin and drain. That will push more water out. Remove the load and wipe the inside out throw the towel in with the wet clothing and dry. Do not forget to leave the washer door open till your next load.

Oh one other thing. I read in the manual that a musty smell can also be caused by using too much detergent. Front loaders need to use detergent made for high efficiency washers (I'm not sure of a homemade recipe for this, but I'm sure you could come up with one...) and you have to use a LOT less than in a normal washer. Again that's a money savings. I use a ton less detergent than I used to.
I keep a microfiber towel hanging by my washer and just dry the tub, the seal, and the detergent cup out whenever I'm done washing for the day. Since I started doing this (takes like 1 minute), I never smell anything, but before that I had one issue with a musty smell. All I did to get rid of it was run a load of white towels with some bleach. The smell went away and bleach made my towels white again. No big waste there...Although drying it out seems to be the best solution. Overall I love my front-loader and my water and power bills have gone down since I got it (power goes down cause the dryer doesn't have to work as hard to dry your clothes). One other money saving bonus about this is my city offers a rebate for buying a HE washer, so I got a check for 100 bucks when I bought it.
pavana6 years ago
Odd problem...in Scandinavia all washing machines are front loaded and they don´t smell. Is the design different?
qetuo pavana6 years ago
Yes i have never had that problem with my front loader in Europe.
belsey (author)  pavana6 years ago
I grew up in Switzerland and used front loaders without ever any problem either, but only since coming to the US has it been an issue. Apparently there's always some water left in all machines after washing. Since front loaders are well sealed, the water does not evaporate and bacteria grows. You can leave the doors open but it still won't be enough. My theory is that since European machines tend to be smaller, there is less water left inside so it can evaporate completely. Also if the machines are smaller they are used more frequently, therefore the water is fresh (smell develops especially if you wash once a week or less). Another possibility is I think Americans tend to wash with cold water more often, which means the water won't evaporate as well... These are just my theories. I can't think of any other explanations for the American problem with front loaders.
pavana belsey6 years ago
I haven´t heard of problems with the larger machines that are used as well. Maybe it is the cold water thing. But then again we wash in 30 C which isn´t hot.

Maybe it is just different habits: using too much soap, not cleaning the filter, leaving laundry in the washing machine instead of emptying it fairly promptly and not leaving the door open when the machine is not in use.

Interensting thread here:

skarah6 years ago
I can't wait for the recipe for HE detergent!
belsey (author)  skarah6 years ago
I've kind of given up on a high borax HE detergent after I nearly ruined my washing machine... this will give you a clue why... Just imagine those lovely crystals growing in the pipes... Luckily though, hot water dissolves them. For peace of mind now I'm just putting my 2 tablespoons in directly with the clothes. That does work safely. I'm still working on a regular (ie NOT high borax) liquid detergent, and as soon as I'm satisfied I'll post it. It takes time because I want to use up each batch before I try a new recipe....
skarah belsey6 years ago
Ah! So maybe not high borax, but I think any recipe for detergent that would work in an HE would be nice. I've seen many for regular machines, but the suds!
Yes, the oder is vile! You are right; I used a Lysol bleach wipes which cut down the odor considerably. Hope this helps :0)
Wipe the inside rubber gaskett out with a clean rag and leave the door open
belsey (author)  porcupinemamma6 years ago
That's good for general maintenance, but once you've got the smell it's not enough...