In your efforts to do less laundry, you (intelligently) bought a high-efficiency washing machine. It uses less water, less energy and is a good option for an environmentally-friendly household. It also makes life easier because you don't have to do so many loads of laundry since you can jam that puppy full of kid clothes and towels. Oh happy day.
Unfortunatly, after a few months of use, your new washing machine may start to smell like mold. What's causing it? Is there a plumbing problem? It's likely easier to fix than you suspect. Here's what to do...
Clean the inside of the machine
If you're not using high efficiency laundry detergent, you might have build up on the inside of your machine. Run an empty cycle with just liquid bleach and hot water, and then towel off the inside of your unit when it's finished. Also, avoid using liquid fabric softener-- that can also cause build up.
Empty the drain filter
Unlike standard washing machines, high-efficiency models have a drain filter located near the base of the unit. Look for a small door on the front of the washing machine. Some open on a hinge, while others are sealed with screws.
Once open, you'll notice a small length of rubber hose and an on/off dial. Remove the hose from the bracket and place it in a small 1-gallon bucket. Remove the plug in the end of the hose and turn the dial to "On." This will allow the waste water from the drain filter to flow into the bucket. This months-old water is stinky, which can cause a lingering odor in the laundry room if the filter is not drained monthly. If the water doesn't flow freely, you may have a clog in your plumbing.
Dry the rubber seal
Have you been emptying the drain filter regularly but still notice a bad smell near the washing machine? High-efficiency washers have a rubber seal around the perimeter of the front-loading door. This water-tight seal is a series of folds that can trap moisture.
To reduce odors, use a small towel to wipe water out of these folds after each load of laundry. To kill bacteria and neutralize odors, wipe down the folds with a dish cloth soaked in a 50-50 solution of water and white vinegar. Then, run the cleaning cycle on the washer.
Are odors still lingering? It's time to call a plumbing professionals for a evaluation to make sure it's not something coming from your pipes. Here's who can help.