Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Stinky Washer Solution

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Do you have a stinky washer? I don't... anymore.

A couple of years ago, I got a brand new washer and dryer.

The washer is the fancy "high efficiency" kind that uses less water and detergent than its predecessors.  It takes a special detergent, that won't produce too many suds.

It works beautifully and I love everything about it.  That is everything except the smell I started to notice on my clothes, especially the towels.  It was a mildewy, dirty sock smell that nobody in the family was fond of.

At first, I thought maybe the clothes didn't appreciate me leaving them in the washer overnight, like I was in the habit of doing.  I changed my routine and made sure to put them in the dryer as soon as they were through washing, but the smell remained.

I changed detergent, but that didn't help either.  I was flummoxed until I came across an ad for a product that is specifically designed to remedy stinky washers.

It turns out that the detergent and fabric softener build up on the drum of the washer and form a sticky, stinky wall of gunk that breeds mildew! The water passes over this sticky gunk on the way to the clothes.  No wonder they smelled like mildewed socks!

This is especially a problem for the high efficiency washers, because they use less water and the detergent is thicker, so it is harder to rinse away.

There are a few different solutions for this, and they all require monthly maintenance.

One solution is to run the empty washer on the "clean" cycle with a cup of bleach.  I alternate this with running it on "clean" with a cup of vinegar about once a month.  (Don't mix vinegar and bleach, unless you are trying to create a bomb! In that case, I can not be held responsible for the laundry shrapnel that could possibly result.)

Another solution is to use a product like this one, which is specifically designed to clean stinky washers.

I also remember my frugal fabric softener trick and that helps eliminate gunky build up, too.

Now my washer and my clothes smell fresh and clean again!

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Weird Unsocialized Mom said...

So it's not just me??? We got an HE washer a while back, too, and, like you, I thought the smell that it now has was from a few too many loads of wet clothes being left in there too long. I'm going to run an empty cycle with bleach right now! Thanks!

Rachel said...

WAIT. You're saying there's a time when your washer is actually EMPTY???

That's the trick I want to know!

Aunt LoLo said...

Oooh...Ok. I'm running a Bleach load this afternoon!! Thanks~

I am blessed! said...

Very interesting. We've noticed this with certain wash cloths, but thought it was just the poor quality of the wash cloths. I'll have to try this.

Kara said...

Interesting. Our HE was a lemon so when Sears replaced it we got a non HE one. But I'll keep a nose out for the stinky smell anyway:)

Kim @ Forever Wherever said...

Thanks for the tip!!! We just threw away about five or six towels because I couldn't get them to smell right! I'll try it! :)


Anita said...

Is it Wednesday already? I only notice the stinky smell when I keep the door closed when it is empty or leave a load in overnight. You are supposed to keep the door open to air out when not in use. I do use bleach occasionally and use vinegar and baking soda a good bit.

*Mirage* said...

My washer is a top loading regular (non-HE) and I don't use fabric softeners at all so I don't have the stinky problem unless I'm running behind on my wash and let a load wash when I go to bed- the next morning when I wake up it's stinky. :p

For stinky towels and washcloths (especially dish cloths!) - they get that way from being left wet and crumpled up overnight. For the wash/dishcloths you can boil them with a bit of baking soda for 10 minutes and it will get the smell out. For towels and washcloths that aren't super stinky you can soak them overnight in Oxiclean (unless you have a front loading HE machine then the whole soaking thing doesn't work very well) and then in the morning finish washing it (with no fabric softener) and then wash it one more time with baking soda laundry detergent or with a cup of vinegar, again no fabric softener. Think about how softener puts a residue on the inside of your washer and then think about that residue sealing in the stink in your clothes. You want to get the stink 100% out before you use the fabric softener.

Speaking of fabric softener, everyone who uses it should take out their dryer lint screen and wash it with soap gently in the kitchen sink every so often. Fabric softener builds up in your lint screen causing the air to not be able to pass through it properly which will cause your clothes to take longer to dry and creates a fire hazard! You can tell if your lint screen has too much build up on it or not by simply slowly running some water through it. If the water pools on the screen you have build up and need to clean it. If it runs right through like a strainer, you have no buildup and can go on about your business. ;)

Monica said...

I have a terrible time with that in our washer. I used a Woolite solution that helps with the smell of the clothes but it hasn't helped the washer at all. I'm going to try your solution to see if that can do it for us!!

Jackie said...

Great, inexpensive, tip. Love it!

Christy said...

I too am off to pour some bleach in my washer! I do keep the door open and that helps some, but I hated to buy the commercial stuff. Thanks for a great tip!

Your Frugal Friend, Niki said...

Wow I am SO glad you posted this!


Excellent post!

Stop by and visit me sometime over at Free 2 Be Frugal!

the momma said...

I don't have a HE washer ~ but man - it's been stinkin' lately ~ just last night, I told my husband we have GOT to get rid of this stink!

Courtney said...

I wonder if just doing the vinegar would work, i am very anti bleach but do hate my stinky washer!

Blessed Mommy said...

Thanks for the tip...here's one to add to yours if you don't mind. I always leave the door open at night, this helps it to dry out overnight and helps eliminate the stink.

Life is Good said...

Yes, I have started using vinegar as a fabric softener, and I have noticed less build up, too.

ProlificMom said...

I have had the same problem and the repairman told me to add vinegar once a month. But he didn't explain the part about the mildew. That explains everything now. The vinegar really works and I do laundry for so many people that I use it twice a month on my front loader. It makes a HUGE difference because I can't stand the mildew smell. No amount of fabric softener will cover that up.

Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I get that weird smell in my kitchen sink, on my sponges and dishwasher. If I go out of town for a few days the sink and the inside of the dishwasher smells! (not a garbage food kind of smell but a mildewed sock kind of smell). Wonder if I can run the dishwasher with a few cups of vinegar or bleach.

Hoosier Homemade said...

Great tip! Laundry schrapenel, funny!

Katrine said...

Good to know! I am going to go run bleach through a clean cycle right now!

Eliza Welch said...

I would love for you to stop by my blog!
Eliza's Blog

Janie Jackson said...

When my washer starts to stink I check for clogs. We find every thing in that pipe under the HE machine. The washer still works when there are small things in the catch all tube but a few items can create mildue in the water that stinks up the entire machine. HOw to clean it is not in the manule. We watched the repaire man and asked a lot of questions to learn how to empty it. I suppose bleach would get rid of the smell but you wouold not believe what we find in that clean out trap.

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