What we learned from our stinky wash caper

Wash and dry

If you have hypersensitivities to chemicals, do not Not NOT use a laundromat. If your washer is bust, wash by hand or find a neighbor who is equally sensitive and will let you use their safe machine.

If your machine has to sit for a while (as our did, because it was bust), open the door so the inside dries. (Dark plus wet equals mold and mildew.)

Front loading washers trap debris in the rubber door gasket and in the detergent dispenser. This debris collects stuff (like stinky fragrances) and holds on to them. It also stays wet. Dark plus wet equals mold and mildew.

If you were stupid and took your clothes to a laundromat, the oil-based fragrance they collected from the debris at the laundromat will next transfer to the debris in your own washer and contaminate everything you wash … over and over and over.

Even if you were not stupid in a laundromatty way, you still need to clean the gasket and dispenser monthly with a toothbrush, rags and bleach or vinegar. Even if you use safe, unscented laundry products, these things will still grow mold and mildew, which will gas you whenever you open the washer and make your clothes and towels smell like dirty feet.

Cleaning the gasket: Don’t forget to put your fingers inside the gap in the rubber gasket and pull forward to get at trapped crud.

Cleaning the dispenser: Pull it as far out as it will go, then look for a tab that releases it so you can remove it completely. After scrubbing and replacing everything, run a hot cycle without clothes to flush the machine out.

If your washer has gotten totally stinky, do the hand cleaning, then run the first no-clothes hot cycle with bleach, a second with vinegar and a third with just hot water. After that, clean monthly to avoid future problems. (I don’t tolerate bleach, so we used borax. Dunno if that helped or not. I should have taken chemistry.)

If your clothes are contaminated by oil-based fragrance and/or musty aromas that are being super stubborn, it might help to add essential oils to the load. Drip them on to a washcloth or sock or something and toss in with everything else. It helps. Don’t ask me why. (I wonder if I’d understand if I’d taken chemistry.)

Oils I used: lemon, tea tree, pine, eucalyptus, rosemary, lavender. I was desperate so used 3 drops each, 18 drops total, for a load of towels. It made an enormous difference and I could not smell the essential oils at all. So far as I could tell, they bound themselves to the toxic fragrances and flushed themselves out of my house.

Praise God and thank you all for your prayers and advice.


Filed under Health & Nutrition

10 responses to “What we learned from our stinky wash caper

  1. So glad you were able to solve the problem! What a relief!

    I have to go to the laundromat occasionally, even when my washer isn’t on the fritz, because there are some things I can’t wash in my top-loader: king-size quilts, king-size mattress pads, down pillows, down jackets… you get the idea. So far I haven’t had any disasters from these occasional trips to the laundromat, but I’m definitely going to do the essential oil thing next time I go, because I have a quilt and two pillows that have a musty moldy smell that I have to get rid of (otherwise I’d have to throw them out and replace them, which would cost big bucks). I used essential oils on a moldy blanket in my top loader and was surprised at how well they worked. I thought when I took it out it would smell like the oils I used (which would not be a bad thing), but it actually had no smell at all that I could detect, and I have a very sensitive nose. Now I’m sold on essential oils for purification. I’m going to try them on some other problem areas in my house, like the cupboard under the sink — a place where every other home remedy I’ve tried has failed!


    • What A Hoot

      Well, you have answered a few things for me. I found out a long time ago that laundromat washings stank funny. I thought it was due to recycled water or something or the combo of all the different detergents. Never knew why just knew I was glad a lady told me years ago to use vinegar in with soap at laundromat and also use as fabric softener. Thanks to you, I now understand more it is necessary and why it works! So glad hubby gets off repetitive laundry duty, finally! Yippee! (Suppose I should have remembered this when first prayer requests went up; but then you had probably already tried the Big ‘V’. Blessings.


      • chrissythehyphenated

        You lost me. What’s the Big V?


        • chrissythehyphenated

          Oh duh. Vinegar. Yes, we used that before I posted my prayer request. I’m still puzzling about laundry additives in general. Our appliance repair guy told us to only use the brand detergent he recommends, which I tolerate, because it lengthens the life of the washer, which we have a lot of bucks invested in, esp after the latest $350 new circuit board last week! harumph

          I used to use baking soda, but laundry guy told me it is made up of sharp crystals that don’t actually dissolve, just go into solution, and in the washer they cut up your clothes and then on the way out the hose, they land on the edges and build up like stalagmites in a cave. He said if it’s all I tolerated, he’d come once a year and chop it off, but if we could find something else, that would be better for my clothes and the machine.

          Mama Buzz uses vinegar routinely. A cousin uses Borax. I’d like to understand more about why and what these may or may not be doing to the clothes and the washer.


        • What A Hoot



  2. I flush my drains with baking soda and vinegar on a regular basis (let baking soda sit for awhile to soak up any bad odors then have a grand, old time making a volcano!) also, cutting a lemon into wedges and putting through garbage disposal is good — the rinds sharpen the blades and the citrus cleans the drain 🙂 The vinegar I had started using in my washing machine b/c we had hard water (used it in dishwasher too) and I was hoping that by adding it every time and not just when I did a monthly cleaning of the machine, it would help keep the lines clear. Then I remembered it’s also a natural fabric softener and I notice if I forget to use it! I also don’t use bleach, but I discovered that 7th Generation makes a chlorine free bleach! all it is, is a much higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide than what you buy in the little brown bottle. we used quite a bit to clean out our washer after our move b/c it wasn’t drained properly and lots of mold and mildew built up during the 6 weeks it was crated up! we replaced the incoming hoses but couldn’t figure out the outgoing one, so lots of flushing and soaking, many cycles, alternating our chlorine-free bleach and vinegar, but we saved our machine and now, we’ve added the peroxide bleach to our cleaning routine (just don’t wash anything dark immediately after! you’ll end up with bleach spots…lol!)


    • chrissythehyphenated

      I played volcano with the bathroom sink today and it was so fun! The overflow space and the drain pipe above the water line in the trap get moldy, so I need to be very attentive to these.

      I was tested once for 300 different molds, positive for 299 and the testing nurse pursed her lips and said, “You’ve just never been exposed to that one, but if you ever are, you’ll sensitize.” I got the message. No Mold.

      I also learned the hard way this year that some species of BUGS lay their eggs in the scum on the walls of the pipe between the strainer and the water line. We had gnats for weeks until I found that out and FINALLY eradicated the source. What did we do for information before the internet?

      Later, the bathroom sink … which had been cleaned within the year and doesn’t clog all that often … got totally blocked up. I kept seeing these black bugs in the sink … spiders maybe? I dunno. I squashed them as fast as I saw them! Ew.

      Anyway, after the gnat thing, I figured maybe they were hatching down there, so I boiled a spaghetti pot of water and dumped it all down at once. No more black bugs, but that drain went from slow to sludge, so Dearest got his Honey Do task to clean it out.

      The plug was nearly solid and all ABOVE the water line. I’m thinking something laid a whole LOT of eggs and the nest worked to trap everything else that went down, hair and I don’t want to think on it. Ew.

      Now that you’re all totally grossed out … I did have a grand time making a volcano in my sink. I wanted to get the good cleaning into the overflow thingie too, so I poured baking soda on the drain strainer thingie (ours doesn’t come out) so it was plugged with powder. Then I made a paste with bs and water and stuff it into the overflow hole. Then I poured vinegar into the overflow hole and held a washcloth over it. Hee hee. Bubbles came surging out of the pile I’d made on the drain strainer. So fun. Then I used the bs on the drainer to scrub the sink itself and gosh, it’s so sparkly clean and smells like NOTHING.

      So, tell me. Do I need a life? Or WHAT?!