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Musty Smell In Front Load Washer

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I have a LG Tromm front load washer. The clothes smell musty after washing. I have used Affresh to clean it several times. The clothes are briefly OK, then after a few days the musty odor comes back. We are on city water so I don't think its that. I was told not to use fabric softener any more and to use HE detergents. Still no improvement. Please help.

By Mark from Tyngsboro, MA

Recent Answers

Here are the recent answer to this question.

By biguggy06/21/2011

Jess,
I am largely a firm believer in "do what works for you"! That being said I also like to know, as far as is possible, what could be the consequence(s) could be should I follow a certain course of action. To that end, on 27, June 2010, I forwarded the following message to Church and Dwight, the owners of the manufacturer's of OxiClean and the owners of the Arm And Hammer brand, concerning OxiClean: -

Your website states that the PH for this product is up to 11.0 when it is diluted. Is this correct?
I understand that the principal ingredients are:
Sodium carbonate and sodium percarbonate, is this correct?
I further understand that when mixed with water the sodium percarbonate breaks down into hydrogen peroxide (for the cleaning) and sodium carbonate, is this correct?
MSDS's for both these chemicals rate their pH at well above 8.0
It is a well-known and well-established fact that aluminium is corroded when immersed in an aqueous solution with a pH above about 8.0. As the MSDS's for the subject chemicals available 'on the web' almost all make reference to the corrosive capabilities against aluminum, some do just say 'metals'.

I would be interested in your comments on the performance, in this regard; of your product on the aluminum spiders found in front loading washing machines. There are numerous reported incidents of spider corrosion and failure on the internet and/or although most of these seem to claim it is galvanic corrosion I do not agree. For it to be galvanic corrosion one would expect the majority of the corrosion to be at the junction of the dissimilar metals and on none of the photographs, or from the written descriptions, am I able to find one instance of this.
Thank you in anticipation.
Regards
Xxxxxxx

To date I have received no response except, coupons and offers for Arm And Hammer products in my email.

The MSDS for OxiClean can be found at: -
http://www.autolaundrysystems.com/MSDS/vendpdf/Oxi%20Clean.pdf
(Note the pH value). Orange Glo is totally owned by Church and Dwight.

Some Arm and Hammer MSDSs can be seen through: -
http://www.ahprofessional.com/MSDS/

By Jess [108]06/21/2011

I have a Maytag Neptune front loader, from Costco. It works well, when it isn't broken, we have had some repair trouble.

I did have problems with the sour clothing and musty smells when we first got it. We discontinued fabric softener first, then switched over to dry HE detergent. I like the Arm and Hammer brand but any powder instead of liquid seems to do the trick.

Good luck!

By biguggy06/21/2011

In my opinion there is no panacea to the problem of foul odours from front load washers.
I have seen posts where it was stated to have been traced to the discharge pipe pushed to far down the drain pipe allowing water to siphon back into the machine. Most machines I know of have a non-return valve to prevent this, and prevent any water in the pipe draining back into the machine. These, even if fitted, may have been defective.

I have seen posts where the smell has been stated to be traced to small items of clothing, baby clothes, sock(s), ladies flimsies etc. that have got stuck "somewhere in the works" and are cheerfully rotting away. Use of excess detergent and/or fabric softener very often coupled with use of other than hot water. This allows build-ups of these laundry aids, and scum to form and then start turning foul. Hot water alone will sometimes get rid of these build-ups. Sometimes the assistance cleaners such as "Affresh" will help, sometimes not.

In my opinion there are two, normally overlooked, sources of these fouls odours: -
1. The recesses in the hubs of the spiders (see my post below) fitted to many of these machines will retain water even after the fastest spin. This water will contain, inter alia, unused laundry aids (detergent, bleach, fabric softener etc), soil, the products of the interactions between the laundry aids and the soil, the products of the interactions between the laundry aids and the chemicals in the tap water, and unused chemicals in the tap water. When left over time the water will turn foul smelling.

2. The products of corrosion on the spiders retain small quantities of water after the final spin giving the same result as above.

Many posts on many sites claim that the corrosion of the spiders is due to galvanic action. I do not agree, I believe it is primarily chemical corrosion.

Should the corrosion have been galvanic between the stainless steel drum and the aluminum alloy spider the majority of the corrosion would have been at the junction of the two metals i.e. at the ends of the arms. I have seen no photographs of spiders corroded in such a manner, nor read of any similar descriptions.

Aluminum, and its alloys are corroded when immersed in an aqueous solution with a pH value above about 8.0 or below about 4.0 (nitric acid is a well known exception). All detergents have to be above about 8.0 or they would not work. The Material Safety Data Sheets put out by Proctor and Gamble state that the pH for one of the liquid Tides is 8.0 and for one of the Tide powdered detergents as 11.0. Bleach, (sodium hypochlorite) is also very corrosive to aluminum. I should add that for corrosion of the spider to take place these levels are considerably above the levels found in a washing machine during the wash/rinse phases of the cycle.

Sodium carbonate (washing soda) and sodium percarbonate found in some laundry aids (Affresh and Oxi-Clean (powder)) are also corrosive to aluminum, as is borax, provided the required concentrations are reached.

I believe the mechanics of the corrosion are as follows.
Even after the fastest spin small quantities of water will remain on the shaft and towards the centre of the spider. Any recesses in the spider close to the centre will aggravate this situation. This water will contain contaminants as detailed above. Should sufficient of these contaminants be present the pH of the mixture can, as evaporation takes place, rise to a level where corrosion will take place.

Corroded spiders can be seen at:
http://fixitnow.com/wp/2009/10/28/f ... gion-a-menagerie-of-metallic-misery/
http://softsolder.wordpress.com/201 ... ars-kenmore-he3-washer-drum-the-rot/
and for a LG spider
http://www.viewpoints.com/LG-TROMM-Front-Load-Washers-review-33dc10

For information on galvanic corrosion there is a very good paper at: -
http://www.unene.ca/un1001/UN1001_Galvanic%20Corrosion.ppt

For information on chemical corrosion of aluminum (or micro galvanic corrosion as the author calls it, I grew up calling it pitting corrosion) there is an informative paper at: -http://www.sintef.no/static/mt/norl ... 2003/Postere/Gaute%20Svenningsen.pdf

The picture below shows a spider removed from a Frigidaire built machine after 18 months service. Note the start of the build up of crud and the white spots, which are the products of corrosion. Liquid Tide was the only laundry aid used in this machine. The spider was removed because of bearing and seal failure: some of the crud is debris from this failure but it does demonstrate how contaminants are not easily removed from this area.

RE: Musty Smell In Front Load Washer

By DanaR05/01/2011

I hate my LG front loader. My laundry smells like mildew all the time. I never had this problem until I bought my LG. Not sure what to do, but what a rip off! Wish I could return mine. I did return the first one after one week. Sears replaced it right away, but this replacement stinks (literally) too. Is there a class action lawsuit going on? I'm tired of dealing with this machine.

By Kilaani03/27/2011

Thank you everyone for the help!

We purchased our home in October and almost immediately noticed the awful musty smell. I was horrified since with my husband's gym routine we do almost daily laundry.

After checking all the posts, we from switched from liquid to the Costco brand Kirkland Ultra Laundry Detergent HE (High Effeciency). It took some time but within 2 months it was much much better. We cleaned out everything, rinsed with vinegar, bleach, hot cycle; everything was tried.

However, about a month ago, we came upon a product recommended for odors called Odoban (available at Sam's Club) which we add to the final rinse cycle (in the softener spot). I was impressed! The smell problem seems to have been kicked to the curb.

With fingers crossed, I'd say we have totally eliminated the problem. It took some time of using the powder (and less than the usual amount on the measuring cup) for the problem to subside.

When we also took out the filter in October the bottom box to the left of the Frigidaire model, it was GROSS then. I took it off to clean it out again today and there was barely any grunge on it. Success! :)

By Bambitx02/20/2011

Replace the big gasket in front. All the bleach and cleaner in world won't fix. There's a class action lawsuit against LG in progress. Replacing gasket costs about 200 unless you do it yourself.

By iluvcarync02/05/2011

Clean the filter! We tried everything! The only strategy that worked temporarily was adding a little Borax to every load. Then, finally, the machine stopped draining. We read online how to unscrew the front panel and clean out the filter. This not only is going to save the drainage pump, but it got rid of the smell. The interior filter (that is not easy to get to, but a do-it-yourself possible project), was clogged with sewage smelling water and lint. This may not be what's causing the terrible smells in your machine, but it fixed ours! I'm still going to add Borax to every couple of loads of laundry. Hope this helps anyone. The smell was so awful and now it's gone! We're going to clean the filter every few months, hopefully extending the life of the machine as well as keeping the terrible smell far, far away!

By biguggy12/02/2010

When nothing else has worked look to build up of smelly crud in the recesses of the spider. See the picture below.
Spider removed from 4.5 year old Frigidaire built Kenmore.

RE: Musty Smell In Front Load Washer

By Bear11/05/2010

Found it! After remembering that I used Borax to kill mold under tile pulled up in the basement, I tried it. I started putting about a small spoonful of Borax in the basin for laundry soap with my regular soap. Just break up any clumps with the back of the spoon. Then, knowing that vinegar is a natural fabric softener and killer of static electricity, I started pouring it in the basin where my fabric softener goes. Using these two in conjunction with each other had my washer smelling better within a week. I've been doing it for two months now and now return of the mold smell and my clothes are still soft and static-free. Yes, I still wipe out extra water and leave the door ajar, as well. Bonus: Lots cheaper and better for the environment!

By Debra 11/03/2010

The musty smell is coming from the boot inside the door of the washer. If the boot is not wiped out and dried after each load, mildew builds up. Dishwashing liquid helps somewhat. To replace a boot costs about $100.00 per our Magtag repair man. There was a lawsuit regarding this mildew problem, but the lawsuit has already been settled. You can google lawsuit on magtag frontloaders and it should come up.

By kelly09/22/2010

I have had two different front loading machines over the past 7 yrs. I just got the LG a couple months ago. I do believe it uses way less water than my previous machine. Shortly after getting it, I got the musty smell and the only thing I had ever changed was that my sister left a bottle of downy softener at my house when she visited for a week (I had heard it was bad for front loaders and never used it), but it smelled so good so I used the rest of the bottle and little by little the problem got worse. I have been dealing with musty towels and tshirts since even though the fabric softener is long gone the problem stayed. The fix: I poured an entire bottle of hydrogen peroxide in the different compartments. I changed to the powdered HE soap and after two washes the smell is gone, just like that..so easy. So I believe the problem is the liquid products mostly fabric softener and the solution is changing to powder, using less, & I always use pre-wash now for more water in general to be getting into the clothing. hopes this helps anyone with smelly towels! Also whenever I do buy any towels now, i make sure they are white so I can bleach them, if needed.

By Julie07/31/2010

I have a Kenmore Elite HE 4T and just went through this too. My husband took off the bottom of the washer to expose the drain. The black drain hose that comes down from the tub leads into an approx. 4" white "lint" trap that connects to the pump and the gray drain hose. He took off the white trap and it was awful. There was debris and stagnet water-the smell was awful. Needless to say, we removed it and cleaned it and put it back in. Ran 2 cycles of white vinegar and bleach and checked the trap again-it ran clean. I guess what they neglect to tell you is to clean that trap periodically. That solved the problem.

By syntoniser [5]07/28/2010

Again I say switch to powdered HE Detergent and do not use liquid fabric softener. These are made with petroleum products and also contain animal fats. Use only a tablespoon of powder and put it right in the drawer where you were putting your liquid. You may have to search stores for powdered HE detergent, but it will last a long, long time. Worked for me.

By Barbara Lev07/26/2010

This problem can be prevented by using just a tablespoon of HP detergent. Also, about once a month I clean out the bottom section and do the machine cleansing. Very important is drying out the rubber section after the cycle is finished. I also leave the door opened.

By Kari Caine [2]07/24/2010

We had that happen to us as well. We were told to take bleach and water and clean the seal (rubber part just inside the door inside and outside), then do a regular wash cycle (minus the clothes) and add bleach. Also, do not close the door all the way when you are not using the washing machine. We keep it open about an inch. This has helped us.
Good luck

By Katie-Lou07/24/2010

Can you leave the door cracked when the washer is not in use? It might help the moisture buildup to evaporate You might also try placing one of those moisture capturing buckets in the machine when it's not in use (warn family members to remove and put it back before and after use).

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