How I Stopped That Moldy Smell From My Washer for Good
The Smell That Would Not Die
When I moved into a new house, I was delighted to see it came with a front-loading washer. I loved how easy it was to put clothes in and out and to wash larger items like rugs and blankets.
About three months into my new adventure, however, I noticed that the washer was emitting a moldy stench so strong that I could smell it almost anywhere in my (albeit tiny) house.
I tried the following things:
- bleach in the drum
- running a "drum cleaning" cycle
- putting vinegar in various parts of the machine
- cleaning the rubber gasket with bleach
- drying the rubber gasket after every wash
Nothing worked. I decided to try propping the door between washes in the hope that the gasket would dry out, but that didn't work either. The reason? By the time the gasket actually thoroughly dried out enough to the point that the mold might actually start dying off, I'd run the washer again and the mold would get wet again.
The stink would start again, and I was never able to fully get rid of it.
Finally, I came up with a multi-pronged attack that has kept my machine mold-free for the past several years. Even better, the total cost for the solution was about $5.
- Two small Command hooks (I used the ones pictured below)
- A shoelace or other piece of string
- Regular liquid bleach
Step 1: Kill the Mold
After much sniffing and prodding, I narrowed down the source of the smell to the bottom of the gasket, where there appeared to be a drainage hole (see image).
Now, I have to confess that I actually know pretty much nothing about washers, so everything past this point is just conjecture.
I figured that water must be draining into that hole every time I ran the washer. When I checked the seal / gasket in that area, it was always wet and there was a tiny bit of water pooled in there. I figured this must be causing most of the mold smell since the top of the gasket would probably be drier and therefore not as prone to mold.
For the next few weeks, I poured a tiny bit of liquid bleach into that drain hole every day. I figured if I could replace the water with bleach for a long enough time, the mold at the bottom of the gasket would die.
It appears I was correct!
Now onto the second part of my attack...
Step 2: Prevent Future Mold Growth
After a few weeks, the smell of mold was gone, and I believe the constantly-growing mold was now eradicated. In order to keep it away, I had to keep the door open between washes. This would allow the (now mold-free) gasket to dry between washes.
Unfortunately, I have cats that like to go in small places and lock themselves up (they are not the brightest crayons in the box). My washer and dryer also happen to be located in a closet off of a very narrow hallway that leads to our main bathroom. For both of these reasons, leaving the door of the washer open was not feasible.
In order to keep the door of the washer open just enough to keep the gasket dry, I put a Command hook on both the door of the washer and on the front of the washer a few inches away from the door (see photo). I turned the hooks sideways with the open parts of the hooks facing away from each other.
Then, I measured a piece of string (I used an old shoelace) that would go from hook to hook with a few extra inches left over to hold the door just open enough to get some air into the machine. I took the string, tied a loop on each end, and slipped the loops onto the hooks. As you can see in the picture, the door is open, but not much.
This keeps the gasket dry, but my family and I can still walk through the hallway without bumping into the door of the washer.
Notes for Small Homes
As I mentioned above, I live in a very small house. My washer and dryer are stacked on top of each other in a narrow closet in a narrow hallway. In order to be able to keep the washer open, I removed the door of the closet. Had I not done so, I would have had to keep the folding closet door open, which would have taken up much of the width of the hallway.
I replaced the closet door with a tension rod and a nice-looking fabric shower curtain with fancy rings. When I pull the curtain shut, the open washer door is almost unnoticeable. The curtain is much easier to maneuver than the awkward closet door ever was.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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