By Diana from Sequim, WA
Never mind Affresh, bleach, cleaning drains etc because nothing will change until you stop using liquid detergent, even worse is liquid fabric softener; in some of these machines the plastic parts get coated with petroleum products from these. As soon as you switch to powdered h.e. detergent and NO liquid fabric softener your smell will go away and stay away. I am speaking from experience, my 6 month old washer was stinking badly. I never leave the door open now, just wipe off the rubber a bit and the glass. No smell. I use cold water and only one tablespoon of powdered detergent in regular loads. My clothes are clean, and No smell.
Hi, I have a 10-yr old front-load washer and we're on a septic tank too. I was told that the "problem" with using bleach on a septic tank is overstated and I believe it: I've been using bleach (about 1 cup) in every 3rd or 4th wash load for the 20+ years that we've lived here (and I do at least 10 loads of laundry a week), we get our septic tank checked regularly, and it's always checked out fine. (Had it checked again just a few months back because some people would freak out when I told them I was using bleach so regularly with a septic tank and the septic tank guys said the tank is still in great condition.)
So I would try using bleach in the washer once in a while; but if you absolutely want to stay away from bleach, a washer repairman told me that there's a septic-tank-safe product called "Refresh" (find it near the laundry products) that you can use in the washer to help with odor/mold. And as suggested already, I always leave the door ajar when washer's not in use--if the door has a light bulb that comes on, do NOT unscrew the light bulb, just let the bulb burn out because unscrewing it could cause water to get in where it's loosened. Plus if your washer has the door on top where you add detergent/bleach, you can go ahead and leave it open too, a washer repairman told me; he said that'll help with any mold/odor problem.
Try wiping it out with vinegar, which also kills mold/mildew. Also use vinegar as fabric softener in your wash. It's cheaper, it works, it sanitizes, and you won't smell it when the clothes are dry. If you have to have perfume, then use the dryer sheets as sachets in your dressers and closets.
We have a sand mound system, and I do use bleach, just a couple tablespoons per load in the front-loaded washer, several loads a week. Also, I think dishwasher detergents have some bleach, too. When we had our tank pumped (for the first time in 10 years!) there was very little build-up.
I figure it's because I bake my own bread, and the yeast from washing bowls afterward, the rinsing from spoiled milk full of bacteria, etc., in the kitchen puts lots of bacteria back into the system. Never saw a need for the "Septic Helper" type of product. Yeast and Yogurt! You could even mix one container of each and flush it down once in a while.
We have a front load machine. After we use it, we take a cloth and dry the gasket on the underneath side. It always holds water there. We leave the door ajar until it has time to dry. We also remove the detergent/softener drawer and empty the water out of it and let it dry. I know it sounds like a hassle but it just becomes a routine. We haven't ever had any odor or mildew or mold. So, I have to say it works.
Take a cloth and apply bleach to the cloth and wipe around the rubber seal. When mold is gone rinse with another cloth soaked with water then let dry. After each wash wipe all the water from the rubber seal. I wipe all the water from the seal after each wash. I do. I also have a septic system.
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