And a top-loading washer, too.

Who knew?

I had no idea.

According to this article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, detergent manufacturers have been encouraging people to use too much detergent for years. The extra detergent use had few negative side effects on top-loading models, but newer, front-loading machines aren’t quite so lucky.

Paul Flynn of Savage used to see the effects of too much soap every day when he was an appliance repairman. He’d get calls from customers who had foul smelling front-loading washing machines. The build-up of mold and mildew inside the tub is created when too much liquid detergent is used, creating a food source for bacteria. “The whole reason this problem exists is the fault of detergent manufacturers,” Flynn said. “They tell us to use too much detergent.”

“The soap residue coats your machine, the excess suds wreck the spin bearing, and pretty soon you’ve got a $400 repair bill.”

As is often typical, pending lawsuits and negative publicity  have forced the manufacturers to take action. Class action lawsuits have already been filed against manufacturers such as Whirlpool, LG and Maytag, alleging mold and mildew problems in front-loading washers.

So what to do if you have a front loading washer with a mildew problem already? Here are some tips.

  • Whirlpool sells a product called Affresh that eliminates odors caused by mildew.
  • Paul Flynn’s current business sells SmellyWasher, a citrus-based product similar to Affresh, available at www.smellywasher.com.
  • Flynn recommends using one quarter to one half of the amount that the detergent makers suggest.
  • Flynn suggests that people switch to a powdered detergent to minimize suds.