Is mold lurking in your front-loading washing machine?
Front-loading washing machines can save water.
But does the design offer a place for mold to grow?
“It kind of smells like a turtle pond,” says Julie Kim, who owns a front-loading washing machine.
If you own a front-loading washer, it might be familiar.
“It's really annoying,” Kim says.
“When you have a perception of doing laundry you think of Snuggles and good, baking-soda smells and things like that, so when it starts smelling mildew-y it's almost like you're going in reverse,” Kim says.
Here's what going on:
Along the door to your washer, there’s a rubber gasket that seals the door shut. If you pull the rubber back, you may find a dried, black build-up that looks like mold. That’s the source of the smell.
When you run your washer and then close it up, it turns your machine into a small sauna… or a big Petri dish.
“You have a greater chance of mold growing inside there,” he says.
A cheap and effective solution is bleach. Every three to six months, pour a quarter to a half gallon of bleach directly into the machine-- not the bleach slot.
Put the washer on hot and run one cycle.
“Anytime you have water sitting around it's going to grow mold. That's just the way it works,” says Kaster.
Whether what's growing in your washer is making you sick depends on your allergies.
“Certain people can be allergic to different kinds of mold. Any kind of mold that grows in there could be toxic to any particular person,” Kaster adds.
Even when there’s no mold, Kaster says bacteria can be found. Simply leaving the door cracked open will help things dry out-- keeping unwanted sights, smells and toxins outs of your washing machine.
In 2016, more than six million people joined a class action suit after they found mold in their front-loading washing machines. They received up to $50 or a rebate for discount off a new appliance.