Which Saves You More Money
Winner: It depends…
We dont think top load or front load technology is inherently more reliable than the other. With any washer, reliability is a function of build quality. A lot of people think that top loaders break down faster. We cant say thats definitely true.
All manufacturers offer good, better, and best options, and the machines are priced accordingly. The better models tend to be built better. In the best models, youll often find bells and whistles like Wi-Fi, or a little extra capacity, or perhaps a different color finish.
Front load washers cost more, generally speaking, but we think theyre worth it if youre at all flexible on the price. If youre looking for a rock-bottom price, choose a top loader. The technology is simpler and its time tested.
- Product Suggestion: The LG WT7005CW is a budget friendly and reliable top-load washer.
Use The Right Detergent
Most front-loading washing machines use HE detergent. Replacing HE detergent with a conventional formula can lead to nasty smells and mold problems.
HE front-loaders bear a distinctive blue-and-white HE label. But even too much HE detergent can cause problems and contribute to mold buildup.
HE powder foams less than liquids and contributes less to residue. And even if you dont have an HE front-loader, powdered detergents are better than liquids at controlling mold.
How Can You Prevent Washing Machine Mold
You may be able to prevent mold from growing in your washing machine by leaving the door of the machine open when its not in use and by wiping the inside of the machine dry with a towel after doing a load of laundry. These measures dont guarantee mold wont develop, but they will reduce the risk. In addition, if you purchase a used washing machine, consider a top loading machine, which is less likely to develop a mold problem than a front loading machine. If you purchase a top loading machine, get a new machine or a recent model , which will likely be designed to help prevent mold.
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The Problem Is Often The Gasket
The gasket is what really prevents the water inside the machine from leeching out and turning your laundry room into a swamp. Unfortunately, gaskets have so many little pockets for build-up to settle into, that they become the perfect area for mold to grow. However, mold can settle into almost any part of the machine.
Did you know?
Only 13% of bathrooms we have tested didnt have presence of mold?! Find out more exciting mold stats and facts inside our mold statistics page.
Clean Your Front Loaders Door Gasket
The door gasket is the rubber strip lining the opening of your front-loading washer. Without it, your machine would leak like a sieve.
Top-loading washers dont have a door gasket for an obvious reason: gravity pulls water to the bottom of the tub. But with a front loader, the door gasket is one of the most important and least appreciated parts.
Unfortunately, its one of the prime locations for mold growth.
- Wipe down the gasket thoroughly with a dry towel.
- In a perfect world, youd do this after every load of laundry.
- In most climates, its enough to clean after every few loads.
- If your machine is especially prone to gasket mold, wash the gasket with hot, soapy water.
- Dry the gasket with a towel and leave the door open.
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Whirlpool Duet Washing Machine Mold
Consumer lawsuits charged that certain Whirlpool Duet front load washers purchased prior to 2010 have a defective design that leads to the buildup of mold and mildew and produces foul odors. As a result of the alleged defects, owners of Duet washers have been required to run extra cleaning cycles, leave the door open between uses, and wipe down the washer after every use with bleach.
Class members who experienced mold or odor with their washers had until to file their claims. Visit washersettlement.com for more information.
The lawsuits argued that Whirlpool was aware of the problem with its Duet washers, yet did not fix the problem. In fact, Whirlpool sought to profit from the defect. The company instructed consumers only after purchase to regularly buy and use Affresh, a product marketed and sold by Whirlpool, to reduce the effects of the mold and mildew issue. This cleaning product, however, did not fix the problem.
Why Is The Moldy Smell From Front
What to do about moldy smell from front-loader washers
Consumer Reports scientists have some explanations and solutions if your front-loader has an odor.
Is there a funky smell coming from your washing machine?
If you have a front-loader, it could be mold or mildew.
The problem’s been around for years, but why?
Consumer Reports scientists have some explanations and solutions if your front-loader has an odor.
Over the years, manufacturers have made design changes to try to combat the mold issue.
But that hasnt solved the problem, so some of them have gone back to the drawing board.
Last spring Consumer Reports tested a new front-loader from GE designed to eliminate excess moisture, which causes mold and mildew.
It reduced humidity levels inside the drum, but Consumer Reports says thats not a guarantee bacteria wont grow.
Mold spores can be found anywhere you wear your clothes.
So when you toss them into the washer, there might be residual detergent, leftover lint, hair, and other organic material.
Add to that lingering moisture in the machine and mold can flourish.
Many frustrated consumers end up buying a new washing machine.
Consumer Reports’ tests are finding that many high-efficiency top-loaders perform nearly as well as many of the recommended front-loaders.
Among them is the LG WT7100CW, a CR Best Buy for about $650.
It offers excellent performance and water efficiency, plus very good energy efficiency.
The set will cost you about $1,300.
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Tip #: Load Once And Only Once
When it comes to laundry day, efficiency is everything, so skipping the hamper and tossing dirty clothes directly into the washer as you go seems like a naturally smart hack. The problem is, theres no real telling how long soiled laundry has been sitting idle in the washer until youve reached a full load. The longer dirty clothes lingers in the washer, the greater the exposure to bacteria, mold, and spores, and this can be worsened if your front load washer is not properly maintained .
Which Is Better Agitator Or Front Load Washer
Choosing a high-efficiency washer can save energy and money over time. According to Energy Star, the tumbling action of front-loaders allows clothes to be cleaned using 50% less water than a top-load washing machine with an agitator and 25% less water than a top-loader with an impeller motor.
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The History Of Front Load Washers
Front-load washers have been around for many, many years. The front-loader as we know it today was introduced by the Bendix Corporation in 1937 at the Louisiana State Fair. This machine was fully automated and would wash, spin, and drain with no help from the homemaker. The rubber gasket door-sealing technology made all this possible. These first front-load machines were big, used plenty of water, and rocked and rolled so much they had to be bolted to the floor.
Then came World War II, and the manufacture of home appliances was put on the back burner as all hands worked on war supplies. After the war in the 1950s, Whirlpool and General Electric developed the twin-tub system of top-loaders, with one tub holding an agitator for the cleaning and rinsing operations, and another tub for the spin-dry process. This design reduced the costs of automatic washing machines and made them more accessible to the public, and top-load washers become the norm in the United States.
As Europeans recovered from the war, they turned to smaller front-load machines that allowed the user to wash and dry in the same machine. Front-load washers are still the most popular design in Europe.
Tip # : Practice Good Washer Hygiene
Good front load washer practice begins with wiping down vulnerable areas that come into contact with moisture most often. Frequency will ultimately come down to how often your household does laundry, but in general:
- Give the gasket a wipe every 7-10 days.
- Rinse, wash, and dry the detergent dispenser at least once every month.
When performing this routine, pay close attention to small crevices, nooks, folds, and corners. These areas are the darkest, most humid, and are easily forgotten, providing optimum harboring conditions for bacteria and mold.
Aside manual upkeep, many front load washing machines also feature a Clean Cycle. Running this load regularly can help cut down on the work you need to do in between each cleaning, and can also help keep your unit running in prime conditions. Generally, self-cleaning washers notify users when its time to run the cleaning cycle, but good practice dictates a session at least once every two weeks, though this will also depend on the volume of washes your household performs.
And dont forget to explore specialty products available on the market. Products such as Whirlpools Affresh add a boost of cleaning performance and sanitization to the Clean Cycle, further protecting your washer from hard-to-remove mildew.
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Smell And Mold Issues
Winner: Top load washers
This, friends, is the elephant in the room. The biggest complaint about front load washers is that mold builds up around the door’s rubber gasket. To combat it, you have to clean a front load washing machine a lot more often than you do a top loader.
Do all front load washers have mold and mildew problems? Well, they’re working on it. You’ll see front loaders with solutions designed to target this problem, from self-clean cycles to antimicrobial-coated surfaces to special vent systems.
Here’s what we know works: We recommend placing a front load washer in an area with good airflow, wiping the door gasket and detergent drawer after every use, and leaving the doors slightly ajar to keep mold at bay. That might be more of a cleaning routine than you want to commit to.
Top load washing machines, by contrast, require zero maintenance. They dont have mold problems since they rely on gravity to pull water down. There aren’t any seals or gaskets for water to get trapped in. And there’s a free airflow through the lid. Thus: no maintenance.
But mold-fighting technology is proving so popular that some top-load washers now incorporate it, even though it’s not strictly necessary. For instance, GE Profile 900 series top-load washers have Microban-coated gaskets, dispensers, and drain systems for extra anti-stink protection.
- Product Suggestion: If your heart’s set on a front load washer, GE washers have a unique solution to fight mold.
How To Prevent Mold In Washingmachines
- Use only the right detergent. If you have a High-Efficiency washer, use High-Efficiency detergent. Non-HE detergent leaves behind too manysuds that promote mold growth. Use only the recommended amount of detergent forthe same reason.
- Leave the door open after each wash to allow moisture inside themachine to escape. Doing so prevents the formation of a damp environment inwhich mold can grow.
- Remove wet clothes immediately after a wash. Not only does thisprevent moisture and mold buildup, but it also prevents your clothes fromsmelling musty.
- Wipe the door gasket with your mildew cleaner regularly. Do soat least once a week to eliminate moisture and detergent residue that promotesmold growth.
- Use a dehumidifier where you keep the washer if the area ishumid. Humidity from outside the machine may contribute to the mold inside it,so make sure to fix the water or humidity problem. Set up a dehumidifier in theroom.
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Clean The Interior Of Your Front
Detergent residue builds up over time, especially if you add more than the recommended amount to laundry loads. Lets get those clothes extra clean!
The trouble is, old soap deposits dont smell like a meadow in springtime. They smell more like effluent flow. Front-loading washing machines are especially vulnerable to detergent residue.
Some front-loading models come with a tub-washing cycle, allowing you to rinse away accumulated residue. If youre lucky enough to have this feature on your machine, use it every month or two.
Otherwise, follow this monthly cleaning routine:
- Run your machine empty through a hot-water wash cycle.
- Pour a cup or two of white vinegar or bleach into the machines detergent dispenser for more cleaning power.
- If you add vinegar or bleach, run your front-loading washer through a second cycle with hot water only.
- Complete the job by drying the machines interior with a towel.
- Afterward, leave the washer door open a few inches for drying.
The Best Way To Kill Mold And Bacteria
If you’ve got mold in your washer, here’s how to get rid of it:
1. Start by putting on gloves and grabbing an old towel that you don’t care about.
2. Mix a solution of either bleach and hot water OR vinegar and hot water. Never mix bleach and vinegar together, as it creates a chlorine gas that can be harmful to you.
3. Dip the towel in the mixture and start scrubbing away at any visible mold. Make sure to hit the detergent dispenser and around the gaskets.
4. If there’s a gasket around the door , carefully and thoroughly clean and dry it, including all the folds.
5. Run a wash cycle on the hottest setting your machine offers with a cup of bleach or vinegar. If using bleach, pour it in the compartment designated for bleach. If using vinegar, pour it in the detergent slot. If your machine has a self-clean cycle, you can use that setting. This should kill any hidden mold that you may have missed.
6. Next, use another old towel and wipe away all the moisture in your washing machine. This includes the drum, dispensers, seals and any other areas you can reach.
7. Lastly, leave the door to your washer open to allow air circulation to dry out any parts you missed. Doing this monthly will help prevent mold growth.
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Tiny Spores Big Headaches
Mold is a tricky problem to pin down. The source can be difficult to identify, and mold is notoriously hard to get rid of. It can also be more than a mere nuisance for people who are allergic to it. Mold that grows in washing machines can be problematic even when the machine is not in use, says Melanie Carver, a spokesperson for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Mold can trigger allergic symptomsincluding sneezing, itching, runny nose, and congestionand can also be an irritant to the airways.
Molds and bacteria can occur together, though their odor may help you tell them apart in the laundry room. Some molds and bacteria produce and release microbial VOCs it depends on the species, says De-Wei Li, Ph.D., a research mycologist for the state of Connecticut. The stinky smell is often from bacteria, and musty smell is from molds.
But how does mold find its way into your washing machine in the first place? It very well may have started with youor on you. Mold spores can be found almost anywhere, indoors and out, and you and your clothing are a movable feast.
Dirty laundry is a major source of mold spores in the washer, says Li, who conducted lab work on washer mold earlier in his career. You wear the clothes, do your routine, and bits of food, soil, and airborne fungi can land on your clothes.
More food for mold.
Ges Ultrafresh Vent System With Odorblock
For the best mold and mildew protection on the market, shop GE front load washers using UltraFresh Vent System with OdorBlock. This industry exclusive guards the washer against odor and mold three ways:
DRAIN: The gasket has been specially designed with a smoother surface, larger drain holes, and a wider channel, all which improve moisture drainage.
DRY: After every load, the UltraFresh Ventilation System circulates air throughout the interior while the drum spins in 15 minutes cycles until every surface on the inside is dry.
DEFEND: Microban technology integrated into the gasket, detergent dispenser, and pump creates a barrier that prevents bacteria from forming.
- Also recommended: Samsung front load washers with CleanGuard Technology. While this washer feature from Samsung doesnt come with ventilation, the antimicrobial lining does help keep bacteria and odors at bay in a way very similar to GEs UltraFresh Vent System.
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Not All Machines Can Be Stacked
In our tests, most front-loaders can be stacked with a matching dryer on top. However, thats not always the casesome washer-dryer pairs, in fact, cant be stacked.
Reasons vary. For instance, a detergent dispenser might be on top of the washer, where it would be blocked if the machines were stacked. Or in the case of the Samsung FlexWash, theres a mini top-load washer atop a full-sized front-loader.
One other fit factor to be aware of: Some front-loaders in our tests are 2 inches wider than the standard 27 inches, and height and depth vary by as much as 8 inches. Be sure to measure your laundry space and entry door widths to ensure that the machine will fit through.
Price And Additional Features
The general price spectrum of front load and top load washers runs from about $500 to $2,000, barring major deals or rebates. While advances in technology and sheer time have seen prices between top loaders and front loaders level out somewhat, top loaders are still generally cheaper than front loaders particularly agitator-style top loaders, which are often your most affordable options.
Of course, special features such as self-cleaning settings on front load washers will also add to your costs. Other features to consider include built-in sinks, automatic detergent dispensers, wi-fi connection, and pedestals. Carefully consider your budget against your needs to decide what if any of these features you need.
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