Sears Front-Loading Washer Leaves Clothes Stinky

Karen, a self-described, “Stinky Mom,” writes:

I have had nothing but trouble w/ my high efficiency washer – my house STINKS, my clothes STINK, my towels STINK and now my FAMILY STINKS!!! I think as a Mom you’ve had enough when the kids at school laugh at your son because his jeans STINK!!!! I’ve had Sears out a number of times (will get my service) records – and even had the senior customer service person who deals with this type of washer say “I’m surprised they haven’t recalled the washers, we get this complaint all the time”!!

I’ve also had the plumber out because Sears said it was my plumbing – NO!!! I called yesterday for my service records and that’s an entire different issue – they don’t list each time they come out – but “lump” the service calls. Then they said why don’t you talk to our Consumer Customer Service – her comment “oh I wish I could help you” I said then I’m going to write letters to the entire executive board, my local newspaper, and my Sears store!!

The model is a Kenmore Super Capacity 3.5 Model 417.44052400 Front Load.

It smells like when you leave a towel and forget it’s wet – stinky wet towel smell – sour – even our suitcase smelled when we traveled for Thansgiving because of the boys jeans!

I found a website at one time where they said how to take off the rubber ring – so I should the repair guy – and he said “oh o.k.” flipped the washer over and he couldn’t access it – and that was the end of the call!!

If you have any additional help you can offer – I’d be glad to take it!!


A casual perusal of the internets reveal that this is a common problem with front-loading washers. LG front-loaders are another brand that it also cited for the same problem. Does anyone have any advice for accessing the rubber ring on this washer? Anyone else with a similar stinky front-loader? Leave your thoughts in the comments.


Edit Your Comment

  1. scalv says:

    You are supposed to clean out the front rubber seal with bleach every few weeks. Also do not close the washer door all the way when you are done using it. Let the extra water evaporate from the rubber seal or wipe it out with a cloth.

    When I used to sell these washers we were instructed to tell customers this. Maybe she should have listened or read the manual?

  2. sonichghog says:

    Didn’t have a from loader that smelled, but We had a similar issue a while back and a few loads of nothing but water and bleech fixed it.

  3. goller321 says:

    I have an LG front loading washer and only get a “stinky” load when I forget to dry them after the cycle ends. But that happens with all washers, and is caused by bacteria. Not sure why a rubber ring would cause a smell like that.
    I do add Borax to my loads to help the cleaning agents in the detergent and to reduce dust mites (the borate helps kill the mites) and it also helps with odors. Maybe give adding Borax a try. You can find it in most grocery stores in the detergent aisle.

  4. goller321 says:

    @goller321: Check that… it isn’t bacteria, I meant mold…

  5. bonzombiekitty says:

    I’m betting a mold problem? Mold might thrive more in front loaders than top loaders.

  6. AuntNi says:

    That really sucks! I’ve had two Kenmore front-loaders, and not experienced this. However, I leave the door ajar all the time. I feel like this keeps any mold/mildew problems at bay.

    Goller321, thanks for the tip about Borax. I didn’t know it killed dust mites – what a great tip!

  7. mike1731 says:

    We own an LG washer, and have noticed this from time to time. Three suggestions…

    1. Check the drain cleanout to see if there’s any junk in it. On our LG, there’s an access door at the bottom left of the washer. Remove the door, drain the water out through the drain hose, then unscrew the cleanout port (might be different for your washer). We found after a year of laundry, there was a hunk of yarn, some coins, etc. in the trap. This could be contributing to the smell.

    2. When we finish doing a days worth of laundry, we leave the door open overnight. The washer is essentially air tight, so any water left in the washer can grow mold. Great feature.

    3. Last, but definitely not least, run a load through with bleach only. We have a “prewash” option on our washer, we put bleach in both the prewash laundry detergent bin and the wash detergent bin. Also the fabric softener bin. Then let it air out overnight.

    Hopefully this helps. Really these are great washers, we’ve been very happy with their performance were it not for this particular gremlin. Top loaders are less succeptible to this since they are open at the top without seals, so things tend to dry out between loads.

  8. goller321 says:

    @bonzombiekitty: I looked at a forum discussing this and I do do (hehehehe I said doodoo :P) one other thing, I leave the dorr of the washer open after a load. The frontloaders are designed to be water tight. So if there is moisture left inside (in the gasket, or in the drum) it could be a good environment for mold growth.

    As an experiment, run the sanitizing cycle with bleach and then do a load of clothes soon after. If there is no smell, then the washer is not drying out fast enough.

    One option to this problem is going with the frontloading washer/dryer combo they have out now. T

  9. ARPRINCE says:

    This problem is common for front loaders since the machine doors impedes evaporation compared to top loaders where evaporation occurs easily as water vapor rises.

    I would leave the door open to help with the evaporation process. If there’s still stink in it, I would cycle the machine with water and clorox bleach.

  10. savvy999 says:

    First person to admit to having to having a stinky front-loader should get a free Consumerist t-shirt.

  11. One of the stupid things my mom did when she bought a high-efficiency front-loader what halve the amount of detergent she used (because apparently the manual says you can?). I made her start using the full amount (I actually use more than the full amount because I’m neurotic), and now there’s no more problem.

    She did the same thing when she upgraded her dishwasher. She stopped using as much detergent and her plates started to REEK.

    So…yeah…maybe up the amount of detergent.

  12. miran says:

    There is a gap in the rubber seal that traps water. That is where you will get the mold. If you poke on the bottom portion of the seal you will see were it separates. Water, change, cat hair (trust me, lots of cat hair) will accumulate in that space. It needs to cleaned out (and dried) just like the lint filter of your dryer.

  13. goller321 says:

    @AuntNi: No problem, it can also be used to kill roaches, fleas and as an hebicide. But it can be dangerous as it can be toxic to humans. So keep it out of food prep areas and out of reach of small ones. :)

  14. miran says:

    Regarding detergent levels, the recommended amount never truly gets rinsed out of your clothes. It is why those Magic wash ball things appear to work for a while. Your clothes retain enough detergent in the fibers for about 5 loads, more or less. My college roommate was real sensitive to detergent and always bought Dreft because of it. When I convinced her to try using less detergent, she was able to switch.

    Also, for front loaders, if you do use less than the recommended amount, you can get away with purchasing the cheaper normal detergent over the lets charge extra “High Efficiency” detergent

  15. Piri says:

    I have this washer. Leave the door open between washes, be sure to transfer clothes as soon as the cycle is over.
    That’s the best advice I can give! It stinks to high heaven when I forget to leave the door open, but is otherwise fine.

  16. junkmail says:

    You also may want to look into the possibility of sewer gasses leaking back into the washer from the drain. It seems to be a common problem with HE washers, since they’re commonly vented incorrectly. HE washers tend to drain so forcefully that they don’t allow water to remain in the trap, thereby allowing sewer gasses to travel back through the pipes.

  17. HungryGrrl says:

    My parents have a front loader that they got for water efficiancy reasons, and also because it spin drys so well that clothes take less time in the drier. They use a minuscule amount of powdered detergent in it (like a tablespoon per wash) and I have never ever noticed a stink. I’m not sure of the brand of the washer, but the door is always left ajar when it’s not in use.

  18. Freedomboy says:

    We have a Bosch front loader, never happens. I feel blessed.

  19. AlisonAshleigh says:

    I work in appliance sales/service. Everyone who has said to leave the door open a crack after washing is right. For now, your best bet is to wash out/around/inside the rubber gasket, and start leaving the door open. For a long term solution, theres not too much to do. You can replace the gasket if this ones really nasty. Call/email the manufacturer, or call another service company. Chances are you’ll get someone nice who can do it cheap, OR someone who will tell YOU how to remove the gasket, so you can order the part yourself and do it really cheap.

  20. Anitra says:

    Maybe this is a stupid question, but why WOULDN’T someone leave the door of the washer open after the wash was done? I have a front-loader, and the first time I used it, I noticed that there was a lot of moisture on the inside of the door. I decided I’d leave it open to let it dry out.

  21. SuperSally says:

    We just got a front loader and written all over the manual in big bold letters is the warning that if you use too much detergent you will grow mold. I second the recommendations to run that sucker full of bleach as hot as you can, and let it air dry. On top of that start using much less detergent. You’ve got a mold/mildew problem and depending on how long it’s been going on there may not be any getting rid of it until you find the mold/mildew, hand clean it, or remove the part that has molded.

  22. Zaphâ„¢ says:

    We have front loaders and the only time the clothes stink, is if we leave them in teh washing machine over night.

  23. lostsynapse says:

    This company sells some type of special cleaning product for this problem. I have no idea if it actually works or is just washing machine snake oil.

  24. Shadowman615 says:

    >>”I found a website at one time where they said how to take off the rubber ring – so I should the repair guy – and he said “oh o.k.” flipped the washer over and he couldn’t access it – and that was the end of the call!!”


    WTF does that even mean? That sentence is complete gibberish.

  25. Sir Winston Thriller says:

    We have a front loader from Sears (the Kenmore labeled GE clone). Here’s what we did when when we had a similar problem.

    1. Poured some Liquid Plumber down the drain (moved the washer and took the hose out of the opening, of course).

    2. Ran about a quarter of a cup of plain, (not Lemon) dry dishwasher detergent through a full cycle with hot water (no clothes, of course). Then ran another full hot water cycle with Clorox.

    3. CLEANED the rubber gasket area that we could easily access. Mold seems to grow there quickest.

  26. JRuiz47 says:


    We’ve got a stinky front-loader. We’d been fighting with Conn’s about it for ages.

  27. JRuiz47 says:

    But I did want to say we’ll keep all these tips in mind. Thanks, Consumerist commenters.

  28. Nytmare says:

    @Shadowman615: I think she meant “showed” the repair guy.

  29. Munsoned says:

    This seems like a pretty serious design flaw, doesn’t it? I don’t have a front load. My top load smells if I keep wet clothes in there for more than a day or two (they’d smell anywhere if kept that long though). It seems crazy to me that a product designed to use water and detergent should have any built-in potential for moldy gaskets or anything else. Why buy an appliance that needs to be used with such kid gloves?

    Set it and forget it!

  30. MustyBuckets says:

    @SpiderJerusalem: Sure, you can use a full dose of standard detergent with your HE front load machine, but I’d only recommend it if you enjoy replacing your machine every one and a half to two years.

  31. Covaluxx says:

    after 20 years of top load working perfect. I cannot see how running mulitble loads of nothing but bleach and water is high efficient.

  32. jameslutz says:

    Our Whirlpool stated to leave the door open when not in use. It also has a dedicated cycle called clean washer, where you put bleach in the dispenser and it runs a cycle to clean it. The manual recommends once a month.

  33. @ANITRASMITH: Why wouldn’t they? Because if the door shuts, it’s an airtight seal on a really confined space. Pets, small children, etc. could become trapped in there if they crawled/jumped/etc. in and the door closed behind them.

  34. Noyo says:

    You can also solar dry your wash afterwards, and the UV may help. Thanks, everybody, for the info, about the open door and cleanouts, and magic chemistry. We simply ran a separate drain pipe, not up to code, for the washer out to the rocks 30 feet above the garden. Plants are doing fine, and roses above the garden are happy.

  35. velvetjones says:

    @miran: I used to work in the business, and the HE detergents are formulated to create less foam since foam prevents the washer from working properly. That said you can use less of HE detergent than they suggest.

    Now for Karen — Your machine looks like a Frigidaire, you should call Frigidaire tell them that you have a Kenmore machine, which THEY MADE and explain your problem. It wouldn’t hurt given that you’ve exhausted all other avenues. I would also try running your machine empty with a lot of vinegar, maybe a gallon or so. I would just put an open plastic jug of it in the washer and turn it on. My guess is that you have some soap buildup somewhere and that’s feeding the bacteria. I hate proctor and gamble and I hate suggesting this but I’ve found that certain detergents are prone to funkiness than others, if you don’t use it already try switching to Tide. Leaving the door open between loads is a good idea too.

  36. mas1683 says:

    Run an empty load with just dishwasher detergent through the washer. This will kill any bacteria or mold that might be building up inside the washer. Like everybody else has suggested, leave the front door open as well.

  37. anatak says:

    “Leave the door open between washes”

    yep. Its a known issue.

    We have a WP front-loader, and in the instructions, it states very clearly to leave the door open between washes. Even came with an instructional DVD that stated it. This was the first gen product, not sure if its fixed in the newest ones.

    I think Consumerist has the wrong model pictured BTW. Sorry for the nip-pick

  38. Underpants Gnome says:

    I bought a whirlpool model, and the salesman at Abt (excellent store by the way) told me the secret was after you did your last load of laundry, pull back the rubber ring and wipe down the inside w/ a paper towel and leave the door open. Also once a month or so, run an empty load of bleach through it. Haven’t had any odor problems following those steps.

  39. eeebee says:

    I have the Whirlpool duet which a lot of people complain about stinkiness. I actually run a lot of bleach loads with my clothes and towels so I think that cuts down on it. If the clothes do start to smell, I run a Sanitary cycle with bleach. Also, don’t use liquid fabric softener because apparently wax is an ingredient and it will build up somewhere in the washer and cause a bad smell. I also use the recommended amount of Tide h-e.

  40. HaxRomana says:

    @goller321: And superballs. Don’t forget that you can use borax to make superballs.

  41. Jim says:

    @Sir Winston Thriller: This was our solution as well.

    With no clothes or anything in the machine I ran a cycle on hot with dishwasher detergent.

    Then I ran a cold cycle with bleach.

    This fixed it for a few months, I’m going to repeat it this weekend because the towels are starting to get a little funky again.

    Also, I saw a post that said to use MORE detergent…this is exactly the opposite of what you should do. The extra detergent collects in the machine, the resulting gunk collects all the smelly crap from your clothes and deposits those lovely scents in everything.

  42. Sounds like these front-loaders are more trouble than they’re worth…I’m sticking to ‘old faithful’ top loader!

  43. jackhandey says:

    @SpiderJerusalem: “I made her start using the full amount (I actually use more than the full amount because I’m neurotic), and now there’s no more problem.”

    For what it’s worth, I typically use about 1/2 the recommended amount of detergent, either in front or top-loading machines. For normally dirty clothes, it seems to work just fine. I think a lot of the cleaning comes from the agitation of the clothes. It’s a good money saver…. Why would the manufacturers ever try to get you to use more of their product than you would actually need?? (I used to use the full amount myself.)

    Also I found cold water seems to work about as well as warm water for colors. Again, this is money saved. This is for clothes that aren’t very dirty.

  44. SJActress says:


    I had the same problem trying to read that!

  45. iotashan says:

    Whirlpool (the manufacturer) and Sears both said that after you’re done with a load of laundry, to keep the door open a crack so it can air out instead of getting moldy/musty. We did that from the start with our HE3t, and it’s worked like a charm.

  46. bryus says:

    I have been dealing with this for a few years. I never thought to let it air out with the door open. I will try this but I don’t have much clearance between the front of the washer and the bi-fold door in front of it.

    I saw on another blog that a cup or two of white vinegar on the hottest cycle helps. I tried that and it worked well.

    As for how much detergent, less is better. We had to have our LG serviced after 18 months because of buildup of excess soap. The repair guy said to use half the HE soap that the HE soap recommends.

  47. navstar says:

    I have a Kenmore 5ht front loader and its wonderful. No stink here. Are you sure you are using the ‘Clean Washer’ cycle every couple weeks or so?

    When I bought it, the salesperson advised that I leave the washer door open after doing a load so it wouldn’t always be wet.

    And are you using only ‘HE’ detergent?

  48. bmwloco says:

    I’ve had a front loader that 1) heats it’s own water 2) runs on 110 3) has no vent and 4) and washes and dries in the same unit. I’ve had it for over 9 years.

    It works fine. Just leave the door open when not in use. Don’t overload. Don’t leave wet clothes inside for hours.


  49. rewinditback says:

    i have an HE equator combo washer/dryer in 1 for my apartment. no issues here…

  50. meeroom says:

    I have a top loader that works great, it came with our house. If I had a front loader and I had to leave it open all the time that would really aggravate me, as my washer and dryer are in my kitchen.

  51. goller321 says:

    @Serenefengshui: For those of you saying front loaders are more trouble than they’re worth, I’d like to point out a few things.

    1. With proper occasional maintenance front loaders are very reliable.
    2. With water shortages going on throughout the country (not in my area, but in many others) front loaders significantly reduce the amount of water consumed for washing clothes.
    3. Clothes stay looking newer longer with a front loader. The agitator is very hard on clothes in a top loader, but the tumbling action is not and is MORE effective in cleaning clothes.
    4. Clothes have more detergent left in them after washing in a top loader, which can attract dirt.
    5. FLs use significantly less electricity than a TL.

    While there are some negs to the front loader, they are more than compensated for by the positives. An occasional hot load (with next to or) nothing in it and bleach is still much more efficient than using a top loading machine.

  52. SoFlaSnowMan says:

    One more vote to leave the door open between washes.

    We had a high-end Kenmore front-loader which we got rid of (together with its matching dryer) after two years for a totally different reason. The clothes would always come out of the washer in knots and would also exhibit symptoms of above-average wear. It drove my wife nuts — all she did was complain about it.

    We now have (a much cheaper) GE top-loader. My wife has stopped complaining. And while it was painful to lose a bunch of money on the swap, it was worth it for the domestic tranquility which resulted! :-)

  53. IndyJaws says:

    @Sir Winston Thriller: Another vote for this method. We have an LG which has the same problem. We keep the door open all the time when not in use and the detergent/bleach method seems to work very well. Still kinda stinks though…

  54. alice_bunnie says:


    Hmmm, why wouldn’t someone leave the door open? I can’t close the door to the laundry room if I leave the door to the washer open. It opens to the den, and I have to listen to the dryer going if I leave that open. Really, was that a necessary question? Obviously, lots of people didn’t think there was a need to leave it open and there are other reasons why people otherwise wouldn’t.

  55. alynnk says:

    Definitely run some bleach through a wash cycle and take a rag soaked with diluted bleach to the door and any of the gaskets and rubber bits on the door and inside the front of the washer. If there’s any sort of mold in any of those places, Karen’s pretty much washing her clothes in moldy water, hence the smell. I’m also willing to bet that in order to get rid of the smell she may have upped the amount of detergent she’s using, which might actually make the problem worse.

  56. trujunglist says:

    Using the “recommended” amount of detergent from the box is probably not necessary. We’ve all read shampoo bottles that say rinse, lather, and repeat. Not really necessary either since the first pass probably does the job unless you’re a real stinker.

  57. tooshel says:

    After fighting with the Home Warranty Company for a month and a half to get our washer fixed my future wife and I went to Sears to get a new one. We couldn’t go the the laundry mat anymore (too scary there). So we get the $1500 front loader and the $1000 dryer (gotta have matching orange!) HE4t or something like that. The best of the best. First lesson is never go shopping when you are desperate.

    Anyway, for the first year they worked great. It would be a few more months before I would figure out why my cloths would stink (I only noticed it when I was sweating) so I thought it was just my gym cloths. Soon even the towels were smelly. I read online that it was common and to leave the door open and to wash out with bleach or vinegar (but not both!!). Then at about 15 months the washer stopped and the door was locked. We called Sears and the repairman wanted $400 to fix it . . . the computer had gone bad.

    Anyway, if I had to do it all again I would get the cheapest $300 washer I could find. For all the money you save in water or detergent you end up spending it on bleach and repairs.

  58. organizedhome says:

    Here’s a suggestion to help keep the problem at bay, AND save money: replace liquid fabric softener with white vinegar.

    White vinegar cuts detergent residue, so it both softens clothing and prevents the kind of detergent build-up that can lead to the “smelly washer” issue.

    Just replace the usual amount of fabric softener with white vinegar in the dispenser cup. Purchased in bulk at the warehouse store, white vinegar is much less expensive than even house-brand softeners.

    Proof of the pudding: our family has used this method since we purchased a similar front-loading Kenmore nearly 4 years ago–and we’ve never had any odor issues.

  59. Cratin says:

    I have that exact same washer and the same thing happened to us. We use the correct amount of High Efficiency detergent AND leave the door open when not in use, and we have still come across the mildewy smell. I had a Sears guy come out and say there was nothing that he could do. Also, I have tried running Bleach through it numerous occasions to no avail. I will never, and I mean, NEVER buy a nother front loader again!

    And to the person that was wondering about how the rubber ring helps to create that smell…the rubber ring on this model has a huge trench in it wherein water and crap collects, AND it is not visble to the naked eye. It is not until you take the thing off that you realize how much crud is in there.

  60. goller321 says:

    @organizedhome: I’ve seen that before, but I wasn’t sure if the clothes would have a vinegar smell to it. Do you smell any trace of the vinegar?

    @tooshel: I’ve had issues as well with clothes smelling fie out of the washer, but then stinking up after they get wet. The moisture allows the mold to take off again. If I diligently move clothes from the washer to dryer, I have no problems though. One day last week, I finished my shower and grabbed my towel. I dried my hair and started drying off and the smell hit me. I ended up re-showering because I could smell the nasty towel odor on my skin…

  61. stevemis says:

    The manual that came with my Kenmore washer (model # 417.43042300) says (in bold):

    “DO NOT leave the washer door open. An open door could entice children to hang on the door or crawl inside the washer.”

    This is a bullet-point item in the washing procedures section, not some generic warnings page in the manual.

  62. dwarf74 says:

    I have an HE washer which I purchased about a year ago. We only use HE detergent and run the Washer Clean cycle once per month.

    I’ve never had a problem with the washer’s smell.

    I think the Washer Clean bleach-only cycle takes care of everything pretty darn well.

  63. Michael Kohne says:

    I’ve occasionally had issues with smell and I’ve found that the best thing to do is prop the door open when not using the washer. I think that the front loaders never quite get empty, and if you close them, they start to stink. If you leave them open, they dry out and don’t have a problem.

    I’d say run a bleach cycle or two to get it cleaned out, then prop the door open when not in use.

  64. wordsmithy says:

    We have a Maytag front load washer that is about 8 years old. It had a stinky problem the first year or two. We had another problem with it and the repairman said the stinky problem was because of the seal and he replaced it for free–Maytag was replacing all the seals before a class action suit was filed, or so he said.

    No problem since then.

  65. Pinget says:

    Try washing the stinky clothes with white vinegar as the fabric softener. It gets smells out and will not leave a vinegar smell behind. And makes clothes really soft!

  66. organizedhome says:

    @goller321, there’s no vinegar smell with this method. The amount of vinegar in the rinse water isn’t large, and once dried, there’s no odor at all.

    Seriously, your clothes won’t smell like a salad!

  67. wellfleet says:


    I sell appliances for a living and from the comments here, I’m not surprised many people are having smell and mold issues.

    1. Immediately start using High Efficiency detergent. Using regular soap is the number one culprit for mildew. HE detergent is a low-sudsing agent like dish soap for your dishwasher. Front loaders create a ton of sudsing and regular detergent can’t be rinsed out because you’re using only about 15 gallons of water instead of 45 in a top-loader. The residue from all the wrong soap you’ve been using is probably gooed around the wash drum and is getting moldy.

    2. Do not use more detergent, use LESS. You are using a third of the water.

    3. Leave the door open as much as you can,and run bleach and extra-hot water cycles with an old towel once a week.

    4. There’s a new product called Affresh. These are tablets designed specifically for the issue that you’re having. For serious smells, use all three tablets in the packet. The packet costs less than $10 and works fairly well.

    5. If you want to salvage the machine, you may need to get a service person to open the washer panels so you can clean the outside of the drum I guarantee you have an inch-thick layer of soap and mold.

    6. As mentioned previously, if this is the machine you have (the one pictured), it is made by Frigidaire, which makes the bulk of Kenmore’s appliances. You can contact them and see what they say.

  68. rachaeljean says:

    My husband and I have a set of LG TROMM’s we got about 18 months ago. They are working beautifully. I did seem to notice the manual said NOT to leave the door open because it’s a hazard… but having read about how prone FL’s are to mold while doing my RESEARCH before purchasing, I decided to leave my washer door open after every load. Really, it does seem intuitive… you can see all the water hanging out after a load if you close it. We don’t have small children though, just cats… and with the pedestals, the cats have never even seemed to notice the open washer.

    To the people who said the washer door would block the utility room door… it’s the same way at my house. All I do is give the washer door a gentle push then close the utility room door behind me quickly. Badda-bing.

    Front-loaders are NOT a lot of work or hassle, at all. I didn’t even THINK about these things until reading this article. It’s just how things are done! Even when I had a top loader, I left the lid open… so it can air out! Common sense!

  69. synergy says:

    Sticking with a top loader.

  70. ddiego says:

    I had an 1960’s sears front loader washer and it never got stinky. It happened to have an overflow vent built into the top of the washer drum. I don’t know if this solved the mold problem or not. Also Febreze makes a product called “Febreze Laundry odor eliminator” which takes the stinky moldy smell out of my laundry. Hope it helps.

  71. Bryan Price says:

    Heck, I leave my top loader lid up between uses, and mine is sitting in the garage open to whatever may want of fall in or make use of it (wasps and things, although I’ve never found a wasp nest, or a gecko either which can be found by the 10s every night in the rest of the garage). Pine straw, leaves, twigs and stuff like that, yeah, but that’s from the kids’ (teenagers) clothes, and they do their own.

    This is in moldy Florida too. In Ohio, I think I kept it closed. But then, I only ran it once a week for my clothes (maybe every two weeks? My work shirts were done at the cleaners) only. It’s been awhile. :)

  72. elemenopea says:

    We bought a house that came with a washer that smelled moldy/mildew-y. It’s a top-loader, but this might still help. I searched all over online and found a few sites that sell special washer-cleaner, but then others that said that all you needed was vinegar. I took apart as much of the washer as I could and wiped it down with vinegar, including the inside of the fabric-softener cup, and I poured it through the bleach dispenser. Then I ran an empty load with a half gallon of vinegar. I washed all the smelly towels & clothes with a cup of vinegar, and the smell was gone and hasn’t come back.

    Some of the web sites said that the mold lives in fabric softener residue, so I don’t use that anymore.

  73. FLConsumer says:

    Leave the door adjar. Pure & simple. I’ve been using front load machines for most of my life (in Moldy Florida) and never had this happen unless I’ve left a wet load of clothes in there for more than a day or two.

    CAREFUL on using bleach in front-loading machines, especially the true European machines (Bosch Axxis, Miele, Asko, etc). These use stainless steel drums (inner & outer), while the American-market machines use stainless steel inner drums w/outer plastic drums. Chlorine bleach eats stainless steel and will eventually cause them to leak. Of course, it’s not usually a concern with the cheaper American-market machines as they’ll usually break before it’d get that bad, but the Miele’s are usually good for 20-30 years, if not longer.

  74. Jane_123 says:

    What is the matter with us that we are accepting this outrageous product flaw?!!?

    It’s MOLD people! IT is a Health Hazard! MOLD which causes allergic reactions, skin and lung problems and is a health risk for crying out loud!

    Let’s put the blame exactly where it belongs and keep it there until manufacturers clean up their act!

    What in the world are we thinking when we allow ourselves to be forced to jump through these ridiculous hoops just do do laundry!?

    I am furious and it is over something as stupid as a washing machine! A WASHING MACHINE!!!!

    Manufacturers woeful response to government regulations for new water efficiency washing machines has my family’s clothing smelling like a stinking, rancid, moldy basement! This is absolutely absurd! I have been told to change laundry detergent, run hot bleach water through my washer and, get this; my washing machine is 1 year old and my clothes smell filthy!!! The mold and mildew from these nasty machines have wreaked havoc through skin rashes and allergies in my children!

    I paid over $1,000.00 for this da*ned washing machine and THIS is what is being sold to the public under the disguise of efficiency!!?? I have been on the phone about this problem. I have, over the past 3 months, with a technician on the phone, been instructed to do the following:

    *Make sure I use high efficiency detergent THAT will fix my problem.
    Wrong. I was already doing that!

    *Clean the lint trap (..that is stupidly behind a metal access plate that you have to use a screwdriver to remove screws to get to it EVERY TIME) and THAT will fix my problem.

    *Clean the water hoses; THAT will fix my problem.

    *Clean the gasket around the door. THAT will fix my problem

    *Clean the tub with bleach water. THAT will fix my problem.

    *REMOVE the hoses and clean the pump. THAT will fix my problem. (By the way, good luck with THAT).

    *Take the pump out entirely and clean all inlet, outlets and hoses. THAT will fix my problem.

    NONE of this fixed my problem of filthy, wet, stinking, rancid clothing that has endangered my family’s health! I even washed my children’s clothing out by hand in the bathtub and put them in the washer just to rinse and spin and they STILL smelled awful.

    Finally, at the end of my rope, I returned to the appliance store from which I purchased this machine and they have told me that they cannot accept a return. They will not accept a return and I have to deal directly with GE. I HAVE dealt with GE up until the final straw when I they told me I needed a new pump, but so sorry, your warranty JUST expired 3 days ago!!!

    Furthermore, my pump was fine. I did NOT need a new pump and have now been told that I cannot return the new, unused pump that cost me another $183.00.

    Now, I have now been told that this is a problem with ALL front loading washing machines and, as regular maintenance, I should DO THE FOLLOWING:


    *First, run a full complete wash cycle on hottest setting containing Bleach – * Note: wash cycle on my machine takes 1 hour and 20 minutes

    *Next, run a full wash cycle on hottest setting using high efficiency laundry detergent for another 1 hour and 20 minutes

    *Next, run a full wash cycle on hottest setting using Cascade automatic dish washing detergent for an ADDITIONAL 1 hour and 20 minutes

    *Next, using Bleach water, wipe down entire interior of washing machine

    *Next, using clean white cloth, wipe entire interior of washing machine dry

    *Next, leave door open to air out machine

    LEAVE THE DOOR OPEN!!?? That is Dangerous people! Just wait until a kitten or worse yet, a toddler unwittingly crawls inside!

    *Furthermore, I have now been informed that I cannot use fabric softener in the machine even though there is a fabric softener dispenser right in the machine because the new front loading machines cannot handle fabric softener!!

    Yes, people, our poor new $1,000.00 washing machines cannot handle fabric softener!

    Give me a break!

    Finally, I was told that this is new technology and since it is so new, no one really knew these kinds of problems were going to manifest themselves and I just need to try to work with these problems because it is not the manufacturers fault but the GOVERNMENT’S fault! Sorry.

    Are you kidding me??

    Now I have a $1000.00 piece of moldy junk that the appliance companies are selling to unsuspecting consumers and hiding their horrible designs by blaming the government and YOU.

    So, now this is what I want!

    First, I want a class action lawsuit which includes ALL manufacturers that have mold in their front loading washing machines there-by endangering the public.

    I want the law to force manufacturers to properly inform the public of these problems and those who did NOT inform consumers of these issues, COMPENSATE their customers for the $$$$$ it has cost us and the misery and frustration caused by THEIR neglect by NOT informing the consumers of these issues. I want this to be retroactive BACK to at least the year 2005. Furthermore, I want compensated for the cost of buying another loading washing machine in an effort to keep our families away from the mold and mildew and filthy mess this has caused! Finally, I want manufacturers to own up to the fact that they disregarded the health and safety of consumers in their efforts to profit as much as possible while touting efficiency.

    Efficiency my Aunt Sadie! Not when you have to run repeated full hot empty cycles over and over and over again!

    Now I have heard that they have a new ‘product’ they can SELL to us to inhibit the growth and stench of mold and mildew. BS!

    This is absolutely unacceptable!

    This is outrageous and we need to speak out about this and make sure our voices are heard! Enough is enough my friends.

    I am just a homemaker, but I am not stupid and I will NOT allow this to go unchallenged and neither should YOU.

  75. gman863 says:


    I admire your spirit and hope you’re eventually able to unleash a can of whompa*s on the manufacturer(s) over the stink issue.

    For now – although this is a longshot – there is one possibility nobody has touched on yet: Part of the stink could be from your water, especially if it comes from a well or poorly maintained public source.

    Take some tap water, place it in an clean, odor-free sealed bottle (such as an empty distilled water jug), leave it at room temperature for a few days and then smell it. If it smells funky, find a professional source that will test a sample of your tap water for contaminents. If this is the problem, it could be a health issue.

  76. jacqusone says:

    Maytag’s Neptune line of front-loading washers had a “recall” because of a similar problem with mold (about 3 years). Ours was purchased in 2000. They offered 2 solutions: pro-rated money back based on the unit’s age towards buying a new washer or a kit to fix the problem. I do not rercall excatly what the fix was, but we did not go with either option. We use our washer almost every other day therefore the problem with smell does not get too bad. However, running the machine empty for 1-2 rinse cycles with 1/4 cup bleach added gets rid of the smell. This treament is not needed more than 1 once every 6-8 weeks.

  77. amygoldpratt says:

    I own a 3.5 Super Capacity Kenmore front loader washing machine, and have all of the mold and mildew problems that are described above. Sears will not replace the machine, so I am filing a lawsuit against Sears, Roebuck & Company. I am an attorney in Maryland, and want to know if anyone is interested in joining the lawsuit?

    If interested, e-mail me at

  78. BrianDinDC says:

    You need to leave the door open (or at least cracked) when the machine is not in use. If the moisture is allowed to dry after a wash, the mold and mildew that are making your machine smell won’t have a chance. It’s only in dark, moist areas they can thrive. I had this problem in a large building I used to live in. The washing machines in the laundry room were front loaders, and it was impossible to get people to understand the basic biology of mold and mildew: any sealed environment where moisture cannot escape will be a breeding ground for mildew, especially if it’s dark. I wonder if the instruction manuals for these machines mention this. If you’ve decided to try doing so to kill the smell, you’ll need to run an empty load or two of water with bleach first. This should kill the bacteria that’s already there.

  79. crystal78 says:

    when I bought my fl washer I thought I was being enviromentally smart. not the case though like others I had smelly clothes and yes even after leaving the door ajar, running a cycle with vinegar, I’ve always used he detergent, I tried bleach, I have city water, I clean the stupid machine inside and out on a daily basis. and now only to add to this fury it is now leaving what appears to be liquid detergent spots all over my clothes. and when I contact the co. they said well that don’t sound right? well you don’t say! then I’m instructed to do everything as previously mentioned and still no prevail. and to sum it up my warranty already expired. the best they could do is give me a repairmans number, who by the way has worked on the machine three times already. go figure! so my being enviromentally smart has cost me alot of money and alot of my clothes looking really dirty and smelly. I should’ve just planted a tree. and kept my old washer that actually worked. by the way does anyone happen to know how to get the detergent spots out?

  80. MBCooper says:

    This may be a late comment, but I’m here to help. Having the same problem with the front loading washer as many of you, I added about 1/3 cup of pinesol to a load of bedding. It was smelling kinda musky. I made a bowl-like hole right in the sheets, poured in the pinesol and ran a normal load. It was amazing, not only do they smell great, they seemed softer. Also, everything coming out of the dryer smelled perfect.

    I use to have a housecleaner (after a surgery)and she always put pinesol in our laundry. I only did this last week, but unlike the bleach/cleaning cycle, where the smell would come back within 2 days, everything still smells great. I’m amazed and wanted to share this result with you.

    I would’nt use 1/3 cup in my normal clothes load, I would just put in a very small amount. But I think you will see that if the washer smells better, the clothes will too. Try it, I promise it works.

  81. mercatura says:

    Jane_123 is right to be enraged. The advice given ranges from “more detergent” to “less detergent” and “no softener” and the suggestions to keep running bleach or vinegar and hot water through the machine nullify the saving we’re supposed to realize from using less water.
    That said, try this for stinky machines: call your veterinarian (no, don’t buy a dog just to acquire a vet) or any veterinarian and ask what the vet uses to disinfect animal cages and examining tables. Most of ’em probably still use chlorhexadine, a disinfectant that’s absolute death to microorganisms. The vet may even be able to sell you a gallon ($20-$25 ?) or tell you where to buy it.
    Run a cup of the chlorhexadine through a normal wash cycle of the machine. One treatment ought to do it unless your machine is so heavily molded-up that it qualifies as a SuperFund toxic waste site.
    Careful when handling the chlorhexadine; properly diluted to specification, it’s safe except for children and small pets but take all of the manufacturer’s recommended precautions.
    Then mix up a spray bottle of the solution and, using rubber gloves, spray and wipe down the rubber door gasket every time you use the machine. Don’t forget to get your gloved finger and the saturated cleaning rag into that gap in the gasket.
    I’ve got a Frigidaire frontloader and haven’t had an odor problem with it, but every third load or so that I run through it gets a sodium hypochlorite bleach in the wash water.
    I still do a weekly wipedown of the gasket with the chlorhexadine solution, though.
    If this works for you, give the forlorn some feedback here, please.
    For what it’s worth, when my Frigidaire dies I’m going back to a toploader.

  82. sweetiekins says:

    Oh my god. Get over it, you guys. I came on here to see if you had any advice on how to get rid of the smell, not to see a bunch of whiny bitches on here complaining about absolutely everything about the washer. Even though you have to wash it through a few times with bleach, you’re still using less water. HE washers only use half the water than a normal toploader on any given load. So even washing it through with bleach once is equivalent to half the water of a normal toploader. If you’re running bleach through your washer frequently then you have another underlying issue, maybe YOU just stink. Just leave the door cracked and deal with it. Atleast you don’t have to go out and wash your clothes in the stream and hang dry them like your grandparents had to do. Be lucky you have a washer in the first place, alot of people don’t. I can’t stand ungrateful morons.

  83. ShashirekhaEgonon says:

    I am a hairstylist. We use a product in the salon called BARBICIDE. You
    might have seen it, they usually have it on a counter in a tall jar
    filled with blue fluid to hold combs and such. Its a disinfectant, a
    virus ide and fungicide. I found an old water bottle in the back of the
    ship once and it had mold in it. I poured the Barbicide in and shook it
    up and you could see the mold peeling away from the bottle. I bet if you
    wash the gaskets on the washer with this stuff and ran a load with it in
    the machine- it doesn’t foam- that may help kill the molds and fungus.
    You can buy the stuff in any beauty supply store, try Sally Beauty. I
    have this problem with mine and now that I see what he cause is I am
    going to try this!

  84. Anonymous says:

    Yes I had front load washer and it was the worst investment I ever made. I sold it over the internet and went back to the old fashion washer. Top loaders are the best and can open the door any time you want and it has no foul odor. I got major foul odor with my front load washer…I do not recommend any front load washer.

  85. Anonymous says:

    Laundromat front loaders seem not to have “smelly” problems, at least not to this degree. I spent wenty years repairing machines in my laundromat. Odors from a front loader were usually due to an accumulation of debris inside the outer drum…ometimes from a trap that needed cleaning, or fibers wrapped around the drum shaft, behind the drum.
    Kind of miss the front loaders, now that I am out of the business. The big 50-lb. machines were cool. Don’t think I would really want a front-loader in my home. They are always prone to leaks that you would not experience with a top-loader. Had to laugh at the comment by tooshel. I agree completely. The best laundry experience is to be had from the cheapest top-load washer you can buy. Lowest costs, too.