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Bad smell from washing machine

DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
edited September 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
I have a new place, and with it a new-to-me-but-old washing machine. It is a front loader, which I haven't had in a long time. I've been told that I need to keep it open after running to let it dry, which I do.

This washing machine has become super, super stinky. It's definitely something that has happened from running it. Originally, I thought it was a problem with mildew inside, so I took care to dry it, and I ran it empty with just bleach. This has led me to realize that the smell is actually coming from BEHIND it, rather than inside it. Something about the washer to hook up to drain is just stinking awfully. Does anyone have any tips on what to try/check next?

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Posts

  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    Probably a stupid question, but have you tried moving the washer and seeing if something has died behind/under/inside it?
    I don't know where you live but it seems to be a popular place for mice or other vermin out here.

    Ringo wrote: »
    Well except what see317 said. That guy's always wrong.
    Essee
  • supabeastsupabeast Registered User regular
    Most front loaders, especially new HE models, cannot drain completely and get moldy and stink if you aren’t careful. If the smell gets bad you need to use washing machine cleaner; Affresh works really well. You may have to run it with Affresh several times to fix it. Bleach and vinegar will not get rid of a bad mold infestation. The smell behind it is probably moldy water in the drain trap.

    To keep the mold from coming back you need to leave the washer door open any time you aren’t using it. Also, with front load washers you have to run scalding hot loads at least once a week to kill mold. With my last washer I had to wash all my towels and sheets on the hottest setting to keep mold from growing. Which pretty much means all those energy saving claims are bullshit.

  • EsseeEssee The pinkest of hair. Victoria, BCRegistered User regular
    supabeast wrote: »
    Also, with front load washers you have to run scalding hot loads at least once a week to kill mold. With my last washer I had to wash all my towels and sheets on the hottest setting to keep mold from growing. Which pretty much means all those energy saving claims are bullshit.

    That hasn't been my experience with my mom's new (well, new as of about two years ago) washer, which is a front-loading high-efficiency washer. She just leaves it open all the time and there's been no mold ever. And especially not on any clothing, ick!

  • iMattiMatt Registered User regular
    supabeast wrote: »
    Most front loaders, especially new HE models, cannot drain completely and get moldy and stink if you aren’t careful. If the smell gets bad you need to use washing machine cleaner; Affresh works really well. You may have to run it with Affresh several times to fix it. Bleach and vinegar will not get rid of a bad mold infestation. The smell behind it is probably moldy water in the drain trap.

    To keep the mold from coming back you need to leave the washer door open any time you aren’t using it. Also, with front load washers you have to run scalding hot loads at least once a week to kill mold. With my last washer I had to wash all my towels and sheets on the hottest setting to keep mold from growing. Which pretty much means all those energy saving claims are bullshit.

    I second all of this!

  • CroakerBCCroakerBC YorkRegistered User regular
    iMatt wrote: »
    supabeast wrote: »
    Most front loaders, especially new HE models, cannot drain completely and get moldy and stink if you aren’t careful. If the smell gets bad you need to use washing machine cleaner; Affresh works really well. You may have to run it with Affresh several times to fix it. Bleach and vinegar will not get rid of a bad mold infestation. The smell behind it is probably moldy water in the drain trap.

    To keep the mold from coming back you need to leave the washer door open any time you aren’t using it. Also, with front load washers you have to run scalding hot loads at least once a week to kill mold. With my last washer I had to wash all my towels and sheets on the hottest setting to keep mold from growing. Which pretty much means all those energy saving claims are bullshit.

    I second all of this!

    Can't agree - though we're overgeneralising here. Pretty much all UK models are front-loaders (I only see top-loading machines when visiting the US), and generally speaking they don't seem to have any more of a mould problem than their top loading counterparts.

    That said, this does sound like a mould problem. Have you moved the machine out from the wall? A friend once had a similar issue, and on moving the machine out, we found the hose was poorly connected to the standpipe, and the ensuing leak had created a wall of mould behind the machine. I'd advise moving the machine out, checking for standing water and mould on the back wall - as well as dead vermin.

    If those come back clean, you might disconnect the hose, and check out the standpipe, which might be clogged - typically with the shredded remains of a sock. That could be causing your issue, but is less likely than a crappy pipe/hose connection with a slow leak and associated issues.

    I'm presuming this is a freestanding machine, of course, and not a built in...

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  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    see317 wrote: »
    see317 wrote: »
    Probably a stupid question, but have you tried moving the washer and seeing if something has died behind/under/inside it?
    I don't know where you live but it seems to be a popular place for mice or other vermin out here.

    I have tried this. It is definitely a water smell, like mildew or funk. It's freestanding, and I've looked under it. I checked the connections, will recheck.

    I also wondered if there might be a problem with the trap on the drain line, where all the smells from the drain are coming back to me, but I'm not sure how to check this.

    I'll buy some of that cleaner and run it a few times next to see.

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  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    How frequently do you do laundry, and does the smell occur right after a load or does it build up/hit you after a few days?

    If you're not doing laundry now due to the smell, or you do laundry infrequently, then yeah, it could be that the trap dries up. Have you had any heavy rains in your area, as well? It's rare, but the drainage pipe may not be level and it could've backed up a bit into your washer.

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  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    EggyToast wrote: »
    How frequently do you do laundry, and does the smell occur right after a load or does it build up/hit you after a few days?

    If you're not doing laundry now due to the smell, or you do laundry infrequently, then yeah, it could be that the trap dries up. Have you had any heavy rains in your area, as well? It's rare, but the drainage pipe may not be level and it could've backed up a bit into your washer.

    We do laundry pretty frequently. The smell started when we began doing laundry, and I haven't been paying specific attention enough yet to be sure if it is timed to variances around when we do the laundry.

    There's been some rainfall, so it could be the drainage pipe as well. Any recommendations on how I might investigate that?

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  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    Well, if it was me, I would disconnect the drainage hose and see if the pipe stinks. I would also move the washer away from the wall and see if something goofy is going on. I would also disconnect the input hose and "test" the water to make sure nothing stinky is going on for the water coming in.

    If it's a deeper problem, a plumber may be the quickest option.

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  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    Alright, the drainage hose that leads into the pipe:

    The washer is at floor level. The pipe access is at about chest height. A plastic hose runs from the washer drainage, up and into the drainage pipe. I suspect that the pipe should, at the least, be hooked so that the u-bend is higher than the point it drains to, right? Additionally, the drainage just sort of... sits in the pipe. It can be easily removed. There is no sort of seal or anything. This seems odd to me.

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  • supabeastsupabeast Registered User regular
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Additionally, the drainage just sort of... sits in the pipe. It can be easily removed. There is no sort of seal or anything. This seems odd to me.

    That’s normal. It’s just a drain like any other drain in your house. There’s no more reason to seal it than there is to seal a sink.

  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    supabeast wrote: »
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Additionally, the drainage just sort of... sits in the pipe. It can be easily removed. There is no sort of seal or anything. This seems odd to me.

    That’s normal. It’s just a drain like any other drain in your house. There’s no more reason to seal it than there is to seal a sink.

    Oh. Ok. I admit I know almost nothing at all about plumbing, except things I've picked up by doing basic repairs. I should really learn more about it.

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  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Alright, the drainage hose that leads into the pipe:

    The washer is at floor level. The pipe access is at about chest height. A plastic hose runs from the washer drainage, up and into the drainage pipe. I suspect that the pipe should, at the least, be hooked so that the u-bend is higher than the point it drains to, right? Additionally, the drainage just sort of... sits in the pipe. It can be easily removed. There is no sort of seal or anything. This seems odd to me.

    That seems like a really high drain access. Any washing machine I've used has recommended that the drain pipe from the machine be run such that it forms a loop from where it exits the machine at the bottom, to roughly the top of the machine then back to the bottom (so that it acts like a U-bend), and is then run to a clipped t-junction with a grey water drain or a standpipe at a height generally between the middle and the top of the machine.

    That setup means that the drain pump in the machine only has to supply enough pressure to get the drain water to the height of the top of the machine, and thereafter it can't flow back into the machine, and the water that remains in the bottom of the loop seals the machine from smells. The drain water that remains in the machine should only be a little more than can be contained in a section of the drain pipe the length of the height of the machine. I'm wondering if your machine isn't able to drain as much as it's supposed to be able to.

    Do you know the make/model? There should be a way to get hold of a manual which will have a diagram of how the drainage is supposed to be set up.

    In addition, I've only ever had front-loading washing machines (I'm in the UK) and have never heard this advice about leaving the machine open to dry before, from anyone else or in the manual of any machine I've owned.

    Having said all that, it does sound like the problem is more with the drain itself than actually with the machine.

  • EsseeEssee The pinkest of hair. Victoria, BCRegistered User regular
    japan wrote: »
    In addition, I've only ever had front-loading washing machines (I'm in the UK) and have never heard this advice about leaving the machine open to dry before, from anyone else or in the manual of any machine I've owned.

    It may only be for high-efficiency machines (assuming that you haven't had one yet). Every high-efficiency front-loading machine I've known of (from my mom owning one to what I've read online) has a line in the manual telling you that you should leave the door open to reduce mold. It's the whole "scalding hot water once a week" thing I hadn't heard of being necessary. I don't thiiink if things are all working right that should be necessary. Helpful, maybe, but it certainly hasn't been necessary over the two years my mom's had one, since she's had zero mold problems while following what her manual says.

  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    Essee wrote: »
    japan wrote: »
    In addition, I've only ever had front-loading washing machines (I'm in the UK) and have never heard this advice about leaving the machine open to dry before, from anyone else or in the manual of any machine I've owned.

    It may only be for high-efficiency machines (assuming that you haven't had one yet). Every high-efficiency front-loading machine I've known of (from my mom owning one to what I've read online) has a line in the manual telling you that you should leave the door open to reduce mold. It's the whole "scalding hot water once a week" thing I hadn't heard of being necessary. I don't thiiink if things are all working right that should be necessary. Helpful, maybe, but it certainly hasn't been necessary over the two years my mom's had one, since she's had zero mold problems while following what her manual says.

    If the high-efficiency definition applies to water usage, it may be that we don't get them. They're rated for energy efficiency (AAA through G), but water usage tends to be a secondary consideration because it isn't metered across much of the UK. The last two I've had have been AAA but I don't know what the water usage was like.

  • ASimPersonASimPerson And they will tremble again at the sound of our silence.Registered User regular
    According to Wikipedia, it has to do with the design of the machines:
    Nearly all front-loader washers for the consumer market must also use a folded flexible bellows assembly around the door opening, to keep clothing contained inside the basket during the tumbling wash cycle.[citation needed] [...]

    The bellows assembly around the door is a potential source of problems for the consumer front-loader. The bellows has a large number of flexible folds to permit the tub to move separately from the door during the high speed extraction cycle. On many machines, these folds can collect lint, dirt, and moisture, resulting in mold and mildew growth, and a foul odor. Some front-loading washer operating instructions say the bellows should be wiped down monthly with a strong bleach solution, while others offer a special "freshening" cycle where the machine is run empty with a strong dosing of bleach. In the past, suggested remedies have included adding vinegar to the laundry detergent, running an empty cycle with bleach every few weeks, wiping the door gasket with a diluted bleach solution every other week, and leaving the front-loading washer door ajar between loads.

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    Essee
  • Hello there!!

    My job is to help people find natural solutions to tough cleaning problems. I am a Norwex consultant.

    Here is my recipe for a NO SMELL washing machine (or clothes)
    First, run a cycle with hot water, 2 tablespoon of Norwex Ultra Laundry Soap and half a cup of vinegar.
    Second, remove, wash and dry your dispenser unit (Make sure you clean the inside where the unit goes....bend down and look inside... especially on top where you can find mold!

    For prevention of bad smell:
    Every time I am finish with my laundry for the day, I remove and wipe the dispenser with my Norwex microfiber Enviro cloth and the inside. Make sure to wipe the inside of the rubber to remove the water...especially on the bottom where the water accumulate.
    Leave the door and the dispenser slightly open...
    So far it has work very well for me
    Happy washing, happy smell

  • FruhmannFruhmann Registered User regular
    they've done test around the household and the washer is the dirtiest thing in the house. after a weekend run on heavy laundry, i run it hot with bleach. i'll even spray a cleaning solution in there and let it sit before i run the bleach load. we got a top loader, but it can still get funky.

    i'd also try the water. in that i mean, get some from the machines source into a glass and let it sit. icky water can be stinky.

  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    So, I swore up and down that there wasn't anything under the washer. We pulled it all the way out, fuuurther out, saw some tile that was up. Pulled that away and... old mouse nest from the previous residents. No current mice, but definitely some good source of stink.

    :$

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  • EsseeEssee The pinkest of hair. Victoria, BCRegistered User regular
    Well at least that's probably not an expensive problem to fix? Maaaaybe? And at least now you know what was going on. :P

  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    Yeah. Not really expensive. Gloves, mask, shop vac and some bleach. Here we go!

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