Problems With Front-Loader Washers

Front-load washers are appealing for their water efficiency and washing capabilities and are the popular choice for washing machine replacement when top-loaders wear out.

Mold Accumulation

According to the Federal Trade Commission, front-loaders use one-third to one-half the amount of water used by top-loaders and are gentler on clothing. Despite their efficiency, some owners of front-loaders have complaints about mold accumulation and a pervasive musty smell that can develop over time.

Mold buildup is a frequent issue in front-loading machines because “the rubber gasket of their doors can collect water in its folds,” according to "Consumer Reports." A "Consumer Reports" National Center survey found that mold or mildew was the cause of 8 percent of repairs or problems with front-loaders. Class-action lawsuits have been filed in Ohio and New Jersey, respectively, against the Whirlpool and LG companies, claiming design defects cause the mold buildup in their machines. Advice for preventing mold buildup includes running warm- and hot-water loads, cleaning the door after use and then leaving it open to dry completely.

Unpleasant Odors

Musty, swampy and rotten eggs are descriptions of some of the odors reported by front-loader owners, according to MSNBC.com. Such smells can develop over time as mold accumulates on the front rubber seal and occur more often in front- loading than top-loading machines. Clothes may also contain the odors, despite being clean, according to readers of "Consumer Reports." If you notice a foul odor coming from your front-loader, check the rubber seal. Possible remedies may include replacement of the entire rubber gasket or cleaning and sanitizing a clogged lint filter that may be accessed behind the front panel.

Causes of Mold & Mildew

Contributing factors to the development of mold and unpleasant odors may include less frequent wash cycles in hot water and bleach and more fabric softener use. According to Energy Star, another factor is using regular detergent rather than detergent labeled high efficiency. If the wrong detergent is used, or too much of it, excess suds will develop, which can eventually cause odors or repairs to be needed. Energy Star also advises leaving the door open for an hour or two after use and adding 1 cup of bleach to an empty wash cycle to eliminate mold accumulation. MSNBC adds that removing wet laundry immediately may prevent mold and mildew from having a chance to grow.

Other Problems

Another problem mentioned by some front-loader users is the increased need to bend over to transfer laundry from a front-loader. This may be alleviated by installing the machine on a raised platform so that it is easier to reach inside. Front-loaders ($500 to $1,200) are also more expensive than top-loaders ($300 to $500), which eliminates them from consideration for those on a limited budget for appliance replacement.

About the Author

Michelle Hornaday lives in Edmonds, Washington and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Washington State University and a Master of Education from Northern Arizona University. She is currently a freelance writer for various websites.