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front-load washer/washing machine smell - not gasket
Old 08-23-2017, 05:38 PM   #1
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front-load washer/washing machine smell - not gasket

Hi all, this has been driving me nuts for a while and I thought perhaps someone else has run into this. Our ~5 year old front-load washer smells like stagnant water. Sometimes it is mild and barely noticeable and other times it could knock you over. This transition can happen -- in either direction -- before and after a load is run or just overnight (no load).

We use only HE detergent, use it sparingly and keep the door not just ajar but wide open when not in use. We don't run anything particularly dirty or smelly through and periodically do the "tub clean" cycle. We've also done super-hot bleach runs, vinegar and baking soda, etc. There is no obvious mold on the clear door window or the rubber gasket. When cleaning out the trap/filter down under the door, the water that drains off smells bad but not really the same. Nothing much in the filter itself.

Has anyone else had this? Anyone have any ideas or fixes? I dislike the idea of disposing of an otherwise fine machine but the smell is becoming a real problem. Anyone gone to an agitatorless HE top loader and how did it compare?
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Old 08-23-2017, 05:49 PM   #2
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This is a common problem with this type of washer. My sister had one and the smell became progressively horrible. I think you have done the standard preliminary things. You should not use fabric softener and should give the tub a twirl after use but think you need something more aggressive now as the problem is established.
ETA I have a top loader which is fine. Believe this is specific to HE front loaders

I think my sister replaced hers finally but hopefully someone has a better solution. Good luck
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Old 08-23-2017, 06:09 PM   #3
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I've been using my HE agitatorless top loader for 3 years now with fabric softener in each load and I can't smell anything "off"
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Old 08-23-2017, 06:41 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Sarah S View Post
This is a common problem with this type of washer. My sister had one and the smell became progressively horrible. I think you have done the standard preliminary things. You should not use fabric softener and should give the tub a twirl after use but think you need something more aggressive now as the problem is established.
ETA I have a top loader which is fine. Believe this is specific to HE front loaders

I think my sister replaced hers finally but hopefully someone has a better solution. Good luck

My understanding was the common problem is mold in the gasket typically caused by closing the door before the inside dries out. We always leave the door wide open and don't have any significant visible mold.

We don't use fabric softener in the washer and have followed the manufacturer's recommendations. Also have never left wet clothes in it.
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Old 08-23-2017, 06:54 PM   #5
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My frontloading washer was throwing a code a few months ago and it turned out that there is some sort of drain area under the drum that was clogged up with 10 years worth of gunk. Cleaned it out and the washer smelled much better after that. I have a Whirlpool Duet model, but I think they're all similar in design.

See at about 1:22 into this video:

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Old 08-23-2017, 06:58 PM   #6
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Always leave the door open and use Chlorox washing machine cleaner periodically. https://www.clorox.com/products/clor...SAAEgKMJPD_BwE
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Old 08-23-2017, 06:59 PM   #7
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I've been using my HE agitatorless top loader for 3 years now with fabric softener in each load and I can't smell anything "off"


This is the style we have. So glad I refused to go with front load. I nearly threatened to hold my breath to get my way when we bought these Samsung units 5 yrs ago. We do leave door open after using and have no problems but I have noticed the clothes do no t smell fresh if they are left for a few hours in the washer. The old machine was fine if we left a wet load in it overnight. This set cost a fortune and it doesn't clean like the old set but it's very sharp looking.
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Old 08-23-2017, 06:59 PM   #8
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We had a front loader and always kept the door open to let it dry out...otherwise, it had a bad smell. Also, we drained it about once every few months. You have to take off the bottom front panel and there is a twisty know that drains the water. IT holds about a gallon of water. It only takes 10-15 minutes to do. If you have a tech do this maintenance...it will cost you about $80-$100. Total rip off. It was very simple to do. Just have a bowl to catch the water that comes out.
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Old 08-23-2017, 07:37 PM   #9
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I've been using my HE agitatorless top loader for 3 years now with fabric softener in each load and I can't smell anything "off"
Same here, except 2 years for me, and no fabric softener. Very happy with it.
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Old 08-23-2017, 07:49 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by someguy View Post
Hi all, this has been driving me nuts for a while and I thought perhaps someone else has run into this. Our ~5 year old front-load washer smells like stagnant water. Sometimes it is mild and barely noticeable and other times it could knock you over. This transition can happen -- in either direction -- before and after a load is run or just overnight (no load).

We use only HE detergent, use it sparingly and keep the door not just ajar but wide open when not in use. We don't run anything particularly dirty or smelly through and periodically do the "tub clean" cycle. We've also done super-hot bleach runs, vinegar and baking soda, etc. There is no obvious mold on the clear door window or the rubber gasket. When cleaning out the trap/filter down under the door, the water that drains off smells bad but not really the same. Nothing much in the filter itself.

Has anyone else had this? Anyone have any ideas or fixes? I dislike the idea of disposing of an otherwise fine machine but the smell is becoming a real problem. Anyone gone to an agitatorless HE top loader and how did it compare?
The compartment that holds the soap and fabric softener is removable. Remove it , the compartment might have mold, we use a toothbrush and straight white vinegar to clean out the BOTTOM of the drawer and then peek into the now empty space that once held the drawer that needs to get hit with a tooth brush and white vinegar. The clean cycle and affresh tablet wont clean out these areas.
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Old 08-23-2017, 07:55 PM   #11
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I am so happy with these new HE machines with dispenser trays that you can use liquid softener in and toss those dryer sheets inna trash where they belong.

Dryer sheets are evil.
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Old 08-23-2017, 08:05 PM   #12
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Always leave the door open and use Chlorox washing machine cleaner periodically. https://www.clorox.com/products/clor...SAAEgKMJPD_BwE
+1

Let them air out, clean the filters and run tub cleaner every few months. Running the steam cycle periodically, if you have one, also seems to help.

Have used front-loaders for more than 12 years and wouldn't buy anything else.
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Old 08-23-2017, 08:07 PM   #13
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My frontloading washer was throwing a code a few months ago and it turned out that there is some sort of drain area under the drum that was clogged up with 10 years worth of gunk. Cleaned it out and the washer smelled much better after that. I have a Whirlpool Duet model, but I think they're all similar in design.

See at about 1:22 into this video:



Our LG actually has this filter easily accessible from the front of the unit without removing a panel. That is what I was referring to in my first post about draining it out periodically and it not helping the overall smell problem. It had basically nothing in it. We started using HE pods directly in the drum instead of liquid in the little drawer.
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Old 08-23-2017, 08:08 PM   #14
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To those mentioning leaving the door open: we ALWAYS leave the door wide open. Without fail.
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Old 08-23-2017, 08:13 PM   #15
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We just bought a new set of Speed Queen last weekend. Retired a 7 year old Fisher and Paykel we loved. My wife's life is washing clothes every day and she is an expert. She hated that Maytag front loader, and she would allow of bleach thru it when it got smelling.
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Old 08-23-2017, 08:36 PM   #16
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To those mentioning leaving the door open: we ALWAYS leave the door wide open. Without fail.
Sorry, should have read your OP more closely.

Since you've done all the standard things, I'm puzzled.

Random thoughts - is it level and draining properly? What is the humidity like where the washer is? If high, it might not really dry out, and the maintenance steps would be for naught. Keep the detergent drawer open when done, but your problem seems more involved than that.

Good luck, would like to know how you solve it, if you do.
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Old 08-23-2017, 08:42 PM   #17
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We have a LG front load and have not had any foul smell issues but we do leave the door open. Recently someoe was telling me that theirs smelled and a cup of white vinegar in bleach dispenser instead of bleach for each wash did the trick.
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Old 08-23-2017, 09:33 PM   #18
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Have you tried one of the commercial cleaning products?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C91Q86I...a-307846438695

Note - I've never used that product. Just an example.

Also, while you use He detergent, do you use too much? My wife only lets me put in soap about half way to the fill line which is very little soap.
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Old 08-23-2017, 10:12 PM   #19
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WOW.... did not know there was a filter to clean!!!!


Will have to get into that soon.... but so far not a problem after 8 years.... without cleaning
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Old 08-23-2017, 10:28 PM   #20
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We had a Maytag Neptune a while back. It eventually got so nasty with mold we replaced it and I can't forget how nice it was to see the appliance guys haul it off to the dump. That model had several different issues and I think it wound up with a class action settlement.

Our current Samsung front loader has performed well for ten years. As others have noted we religiously leave the door open and run Affresh once in a while.
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