Why your washing machine stinks and what to do about it

Consumer Reports offers ways to combat odor, recommendation for top-loader

SAN ANTONIO – So much for fresh as a spring breeze laundry. Deirdre Myles says her front-loading washing machine stinks.

“It smells like a damp basement,” she said.

The problem isn’t new. Smelly washers with mold have been a problem for about 20 years. And, despite design changes, some issues have persisted.

GE went back to the drawing board and came out with a new front-loader designed to eliminate excess moisture. Consumer Reports tested it and found it did reduce humidity in the drum, but it’s not a guarantee that mold and bacteria won’t grow.

“Mold spores can be found anywhere you wear your clothes,” Consumer Reports' Sara Morrow Harcourt said. “So you actually toss them into the washer where there might be residual detergent, leftover lint, hair and other organic material. Add to that lingering moisture in the machine, and mold can flourish.”

To combat the odors, Consumer Reports says it’s essential to use the correct amount of HE detergent. Also, run the cleaning cycle regularly or run an empty hot load with a cup of bleach. After your last load, dry the inside of the door and around the rubber gasket. If you don’t have children who may climb inside, leave the door open to dry.

As for Myles, she’s frustrated and plans to buy a new top-loading machine.

“Our tests are finding many high-efficiency top-loaders are actually performing nearly as well as many of our recommended front loaders,” Morrow Harcourt said.

If you’re looking for a top loader, Consumer Reports recommends the LG WT7100CW for about $650.

The publication also recommends the matching electric dryer LG DLE7100W, also for about $650.

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