Ewww, that washing machine stinks!

February 28, 2008 4:09:54 AM PST
Even though her towels had just come out of the wash, Joyce Pelley says something was not right."We had stinky towels," said Pelley

It did not matter how many times she washed them, the towels had an odor.

Pelley said, "As soon as you used them out of the shower and they got damp, they had a stinky, sour smell to them."

And it didn't matter what Pelley tried.

"Hot water, bleach, vinegar, baking soda," said Pelley.

The smell would not go away.

Pelley added, "I got tired of it and I decided I would Google it."

Type the words "smelly towels" into an Internet search box and you'll find story after story saying the same thing. While the rest of the laundry is fine, freshly washed towels stink the moment a consumer uses them to dry off after a shower.

"I think it's the towels, because of the thicker material and its softer, and can absorb more," said appliance repairman Rex Boyce.

Boyce gets smelly towel calls all the time.

"I get complaints weekly about it," said Boyce.

Boyce says there's a reason for the smell.

"Mold and mildew," he said.

That's right, mold and mildew. Even though they clean your clothes, mold and mildew can and does grow inside washing machines.

While mold can grow in just about any kind of washing machine, it's the new expensive front loaders that Boyce says are causing the biggest stink. Boyce says it's due to the way the machines work.

"There is a pump that seems to retain some water and then that water gets musty and puts out a mildew which gets into the washer and gets on the boot which is in the front by the window," said Boyce.

In fact you can see the mold, pull back the rubber seal on a front load machine and wipe the inside with a paper towel, see that gunk? It's mold!

"Actually you can smell this from where I am standing," added Boyce.

Consumers are usually unaware of the problem until the smell builds up. There is a product on the market that some say works. It's called appropriately enough, Smelly Washer and is sold on a web site with the same name.

It's what Pelley uses and so far the stink has disappeared.

Pelley says, "It's taken the smell out of the towels I have washed."

Some washing machine makers say keeping your washer's door open can keep mold from building up, others recommend running an empty wash using hot water or bleach.

New machines are being made with a cleaning cycle.

If you'd like to see more about the Smelly Washer product, you can click here.

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