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Sunday, November 2, 2014

My Front Load Washer Smells Bad: How To Save a Service Call

Use a long bit to get to the screws
My wife and I got a front load washer six-and-a-half years ago, just before Big E was born. We replaced our old washer and dryer, knowing that with the money we would save with cloth diapers we could buy a more efficient washer/dryer combination. We decided to go with a front load washer, knowing that we would save money due to the low water usage, and anticipating having our kids entertain themselves by watching the washing when they say, "I'm bored."

However, as anybody who has ever owned a front load washer can tell you, there are times when the washer starts to smell...a little bad. There are things that you need to do - keep the door propped open, occasionally wipe down the gasket - just to keep the washer from smelling funky. However, even when following the washing machine protocol, there are times when the washer still smells bad.

In more than six years of owning the washer, there have been three times when the smell has affected our clothes. Each of these times I have considered calling somebody to come service the machine, but have decided to troubleshoot the problem myself. And each of these times I have discovered the cause and have been able to easily remedy it myself. The first thing to try is running a load of hot bleach water. If the machine needs more help, run a cloth over every nook and cranny you can find, especially on the inside and outside of the rubber gasket at the front. My wife found lots of hidden stinky slime with this technique. If the smell still remains, it's time to get out the power tools.
Look for the clean out

So here is what to do if your front load washer smells bad and cleaning it following manufacturer's recommendations doesn't seem to work. By the way, this is for a Maytag Epic front load washer, but my research has shown me that many front load washers are similar in design.

1). Locate the screws holding the lower front panel on. Remove these screws using a long bit on a driver, or using a long manual socket driver. For my washer, there are two screws on either side of the bottom of the lower panel. Set the panel and screws aside.

2). Look for the clean-out. For the Maytag, it is a simple quarter-turn cap.

Wow. That slime smells as bad as it looks
3). Place a towel under the washing machine to catch the water that drains out. Turn the cap, remove the clean out, and find that sock that has been missing for months. Yes, occasionally a sock, a coin, or other treasures make their way through the screens and end up in this catch. This is typically where the bad smell comes from.

Please note, depending on how long this sock has been in the clean out, you may not want to do this right after eating. The smell can be overwhelmingly wretched.

4). Return the cap, making sure it is secure. Replace the front panel, return the screws, and enjoy the smell of fresh, clean clothes.

5). Brag to your significant other about how you de-funked the washing machine and made the whole house a better place to live.

Total time for this simple repair: 10 minutes or less

Cost savings: $60-$150 service call
A missing sock with a bonus coin

Feeling of satisfaction at finding the culprit for the stench: Priceless.

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