Wednesday, September 3, 2008

WFMW: HE Washer Odor

Today's the backwards edition of Works-For-Me-Wednesday where we post problems/questions and people respond with helpful hints, so if you're a fix-it type and want to help out, visit Rocks In My Dryer for more entries.

Anyway, I know I'm double posting, but I couldn't decide.

Here is my second question of the day:  I have an HE Whirlpool Duet wash machine that I got from Shaun for my birthday a few years ago.

Let no one fool you.  Women can be completely overcome with happiness over an appliance gift.  I loved it so much that I asked whether we could skip dinner to watch the spin cycle... Then again, perhaps that's just me.

Anyway, I digress.

The wash machine performs splendidly.  It takes out stains and dirt and holds an insane amount of clothing.  I love doing laundry except for one thing.

The tub always always always seems to have an slight odor... like a mildewy towel odor.  It doesn't transfer to the clothing, but it sure smells.

Any suggestions to get my beloved wash machine again smelling like... well, nothing?


  1. A few great solutions for you:

    Run a load, on hot, with just a cup of bleach.
    Follow that with a load, on hot, with a cup of white vinegar.

    Go to and get their washer cleaning stuff. It is inexpensive and enough for a year.

    Use powder detergents only and use oxyclean powder or borax with your wash. This prevents the build up from liquid detergents, which mold on the inner layer of your wash tub.

    Always leave the washer door open, to help dry it out.

    Good luck! I just fixed the same problem!

  2. Your manual should say that you aren't supposed to shut the door when it's not in use. It has such a tight seal that the wet air cannot escape & it will mildew.

    Always leave it cracked & you won't have that smell anymore. That's what my manual says!!

  3. I always leave the door open and throw in a dryer sheet. That seems to help!

  4. I think once a month you are supposed to run the washer with just bleach. Mine has a cycle for it! I also leave the door open until it is dry after each wash. Jan

  5. Our HE smell comes from the rubber that seals the door. It has gotten gross behind the flap and we just clean it out with a towel that's getting ready to go in the washer!

  6. I have the exact washer. I had the same problem. Definitely leave the door open so it can dry. I also leave the drawer for the detergent opened as well. But, the thing that fixed the problem for me.... I now use HE Bleach everytime I wash my towels. They smell great and the problem is gone with the smell. (I also use Oxi-Clean ~ throw a scoop in with the clothes)....

  7. Leave the door open between loads. Don't run the wash empty as HE machines are will break if you try that. Doing a load of whites with some bleach always helps too.

  8. Jen,
    This is all great advise. Leave the door open and there is also a tablet cleaner called affresh. Give it a try.

  9. I needed to know this info, too - Thanks so much for asking!


  10. First off leave the door open when not doing laundry, also wiping out the seal helps. It's mold and if you look behind the seal you will see it. First wipe all you can off and then put in a normal amount of your laundry soap and I don't use bleach so color safe bleach (which is just hydrogen peroxide and water, other crap to make it not natural for most lol) and run the longest hottest cycle, check seal and make sure all has come off.

  11. This was great advice! I echo most of it- esp leaving the door ajar and leaving the detergent drawer open as well. Mine has a 'clean washer' cycle just for this problem. Great question!

  12. Before our front loader died a sad death I struggled with the smell too. Your commenters are right that it comes from water collecting in the rubber seal. That little bit of water that pools at the bottom can become NASTY in short order. Soak it up and voila! No more smell. Seems like they could redesign to get rid of that problem, right?

  13. I have the same problem. Just wanted to second the people who said to leave the door open between loads, and to clean out the little crack between the rubber seals. Nasty stuff down there!

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  15. My parents own one of these and also have the same problem. They do what Becky above mentioned and leave the door open, as well as clean out where the rubber seals are after they are finished their laundry loads for that particular day.

  16. Hi, just wanted to say to check the seal (I know everyone has said that already) but I often find that baby socks get trapped in there; they get smelly if you don't fish them out!!
    Good Luck!

  17. I found you from your Target post, I love the Target. Also agree that a Duet would make an awesome birthday gift. We have a front loader and I had a friend ask me if my stank, when I told her mine didn't she asked what I did to keep it from stinking, I told her 6 loads of laundry a day. (We had 8 kids and multiple pets at home at that time) I'm down to 5 kids, 1 pet and 4 loads a day, still no stinking. My three little ones prefer the spin cycle to tv anyday.

  18. Jen/ There are 3 causes of washer odor. Overuse of detergents is the most common cause.
    Especially if you have a water softener and especially if you're using liquid detergent it's important to use just a fraction of what directions advise. The second most common cause is using fabric softener. I advise to switch to dryer sheets. Even diluted fabric softener can cause odor. The third cause is washing with only cold water. Cold water doesn't break down detergents as well as hot water. If this is you - you need to run a "hot" cycle AT LEAST once a week!
    If bleach, vinegar or other cleaning products won't remove the odor I sell a completely natural washer cleaner at that I guaran-darn-tee will remove the odor by adding a tbsp of smellywasher cleaner to the detergent dispenser, agitating in a hot setting for 2-3 minutes with no clothing (in the washer) and allowing to soak overnight! More extreme cases take more than one and even several (3-5)cleanings. AFTER the odor is gone from the washer smellywasher cleaner will also remove odor from towels and clothing by adding a tbsp to a full load allowing to agitate for 2-3 minutes then soaking for two hours. Rewash with detergent to remove the dead fungus spores and VOILA (don't say "wala") - they smell like new!
    Thank you, Paul Flynn/


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