Consumer Reports

How to Fix Your Washer's Musty Smell and Mold

Consumer Reports has some ways to clean your washer's mold and mildew

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Clothes can leave the washer still smelling musty, or even feeling slimy. It's not a new problem, but Consumer Reports (CR) has an explanation.

"Manufacturers have made design changes to try and combat the mold issue," said CR Home Editor Sara Morrow-Harcourt.

The issue is often found on front-loading machines, and can seemingly render the washer unusable.

"I just completed a load of laundry and it had gray, mildewy gook," said Deirdre Myles. "It smells like a damp basement."

CR found that the mold and dirt from your clothes can actually spread to the machine.

"Mold spores can be found anywhere you wear your clothes," said Morrow-Harcourt. "So you toss them into the washer where there might be residual detergent, leftover lint, hair and any other organic material. Add to that lingering moisture in the machine and mold can flourish."

Myles eventually gave up and got a new top-loading washing machine.

"Our tests found many high-efficiency top-loaders are actually performing nearly as well as our recommended front loaders," said Morrow-Harcourt.

A CR Best Buy is the LG WT7100CW. Tests found it offered excellent performance and water efficiency, along with energy efficiency.

If you don't want to buy a top loader, CR also has some steps to prevent mold and mildew from setting in:

  • Run the tub-clean feature regularly if your machine has that feature
  • Run the washer on the highest setting along with a cup of bleach if you don't have that feature.

If your machine has been prone to mold and mildew in the past, make sure you dry the inside of the door and the rubber gasket after the last load of the day. Make sure you carefully pull the rubber back to clean away any residue.

CR says if you don't have young children, leave the washer door open between loads to give the machine a chance to dry out.

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