Consumers love front loading washing machines — they use less water, are quiet and look so cool and professional. But some owners of front loaders are finding themselves battling a fight against mold.
Mold in Door Gasket Issues
Michael Schanne bought a front loading washer to save on his energy use in his Butler County, Ohio home. But he says he’s burning up a lot of personal energy trying to rid it of what appears to be mold in the door gasket.
"We started to notice a really heavy concentration of what we thought was staining, but when we tried to clean it, it appeared to be a black mold type thing that wouldn’t come off or be able to remove it,” Schanne said. The mold won’t go away, despite running loads with bleach, and leaving the door open to dry it out. "You can take a nail, a fingernail and rub it on the rubber, and it won’t come off,” he said. "It’s gotten progressively worse.”
Schanne ‘s washer is a GE model. GE is now the subject of a lawsuit in federal court in New Jersey just filed in the past few weeks that may expand to a class action. The suit contends GE did not warn customers enough that extra maintenance was required.
But GE is not alone. Several washer manufacturers have faced similar suits over mold in recent years, including Maytag, Kenmore, Electrolux, LG, and Bosch.
New Washers Not as Prone to Mold
Roma Mount is sales director of Cincinnati appliance retailer Recker and Boerger.
She says new machines have virtually eliminated mold with special vents in the back, hold open doors to get air inside and even self cleaning cycles. "The newer washing machines have put an actual cycle in, rather than a regular cycle, with a ‘basket clean’ or washer clean cycle physically into your options,” she explained.
What You Can Do About Mold in a Washing Machine
But what if your machine is not a brand new model?
At Day’s Appliance Repair in Anderson Township, Ohio, repair technician Pat Joseph replaces lots of moldy door gaskets.
He says many homeowners shut the door with the gasket still damp, a recipe for mold growth.
"That is a big problem because the door seals so tight that it cannot dry itself out,” he said. "At the end of every cycle, open the door, wipe this off, which takes about a minute, and leave your door open.”
GE won’t comment on the pending lawsuit. But a spokeswoman told us they "stand by their product,” and will work to remedy any issues. To avoid mold in any washer, GE says owners should:
-Use only H.E. detergent.
-Run a cleaning cycle once a month.
-Never leave damp items in the dryer.
-And leave the door open when not in use.
Bottom line: If you follow all the suggestions, most appliance repair experts say you should be able to avoid a mold problem. But if you feel that’s too much to worry about, consider a top loader for your next machine.