Consumers love front-loading washing machines because they use less water, are quiet and look professional. But more owners of front-loaders are finding themselves battling a losing fight against mold.
Door Gasket Issues
Michael Schanne bought a front-loading washer to save the use of energy in his home. But he said he is burning more personal energy trying to rid the washer 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.
Schanne said the mold will not go away, despite running loads with bleach, and leaving the door open to dry it.
"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.
According to Bloomberg News, 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 Machines Not As Prone
Roma Mount is sales director at appliance retailer Recker and Boerger. Mount said new machines have virtually eliminated mold with special vents in the back, holding 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," Mount explained.
What You Can Do
But what if your machine is not a brand new model?
At Day's Appliance Repair, Repair Technician Pat Joseph replaces tons of moldy door gaskets. Joseph said 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," Joseph said. "At the end of every cycle, open the door, wipe this off, which takes about a minute, and leave your door open."
GE refused to comment on the pending lawsuit, but a spokeswoman said they "stand by their product," and will work to remedy any issues.
To avoid mold in any washer, GE advised owners:
- Use only H.E. detergent
- Run a cleaning cycle once a month
- Never leave damp items in the dryer
- Leave the door open when not in use
Bottom line: If you follow all the suggestions, most appliance repair experts said mold problems can be avoided. But if that sounds like too much to worry about, consider a top-loader for your next machine. That way you avoid any issues and you don't waste your money.