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One of the most common concerns that we hear from people in regards to their washing machines is odour. We generally hear this in regards to front loading washers, especially if the door is left closed when the machine isn't in use.
A musty, sour, organic smell coming from your washing machine can be frustrating, but it does not indicate any kind of fault with the appliance. The smell can be easily prevented, with regular cleaning/maintenance, and proper detergent use.
Front loading washers use a low water level. Because they turn on a horizontal axis, and because of gravity, even with a small amount of water, all of the clothes fall through the water and soap solution. High efficiency (HE) detergents are low sudsing formulas, that are designed to be used in front loading and HE top loading washers. Too much detergent, using the wrong kind of detergent, fabric softener, and using the wrong water temperature causes a build up of sticky, icky film between the tubs of the washer. Dirt and odour causing bacteria stick to this film, and it builds up over time.
In the past, phosphates in detergents prevented this to some degree. The recent push for cold water washing has amplified this issue, because detergents don't break down properly in really cold water, unless they are specifically designed for that purpose. Detergents with enzymes require water temperatures of at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit in order to become effective.
Keep in mind:
Commercially prepared detergents (Tide, Sunlight, etc) have a lot of filler in them. This filler can contribute to the musty/sour smell in the machine, as well as in your laundry - most noticeably, towels. Consider trying Excelsior laundry detergent instead. This detergent is made in Canada, contains no filler, and can be used in all water temperatures. Because it is free from fillers and dyes, you only require one tablespoon of detergent, and costs only $0.25 per load. Excelsior detergent is sold at Peterborough Appliances.