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this appears to be about towels

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Our towels stink. This has been going on for longer than I care to admit. Somewhere in the vicinity of last year I noticed that our bathroom really stunk. So much so that I marched Robin and Tea into the bathroom and demanded that they use their noses to figure out what the source of the smell was (this ended up being more of an exercise in hilarity for Tea and Pia because they got to sniff around and say ‘stinky’ a lot). It dawned on me that it was the towels. The towels!! The towels that I washed more than I ever really needed to stank. It made no sense. How could well-laundered towels still stink? A bit of research on the topic demonstrated that this is a common problem in houses that have front loading washing machines, like ours. Our attempt to save water has landed us with stinky towels. So I have embarked on a towel-smell-fix-it journey. I used a vinegar rinse. I used bleach. I used ammonia. I repeated these options. Nothing worked. Then, to my horror, a friend happened to mention that her friend had spent an hour cleaning out her front-loading washing machine with a q-tip and bleach and the mold found within was obscene. (My mastery of the written word fails me here as it was my friend’s friend who cleaned out my friend’s washer, I’m not sure how to express this with so many ‘hers’ in the sentence. Mrs. Vail, where are you now? Either way, cleaning some else’s washing machine is a deep, deep expression of love.)

Mold. In the vehicle used to wash things. I have been washing our towels in mold. Yesterday I tackled our machine with my own array of bleach and q-tips. I have never been more disgusted. Mold and cat hair mingled together in the deep recesses of the washer. I put my hand in to peel back the rubber seal around the opening and my hand couldn’t get a grip because of the amount of slime. I ran the q-tips along the rim of the washer and every inch the q-tip would come away black. I have had this washer for 10 years. I never knew I had to clean it. Do other people know these things? How?

I got rid of as much of the mold as I could see. I have no idea if there is other mold lurking in other areas of the washer that I can’t reach or see. The thought freaks me out a bit. Now that the washer is relatively mold-free I tried washing the towels in blazing hot water (I turned the water heater up as high as it would go) with only ammonia as the cleaner. My last hope was to hang the towels out on the line, hoping that the sun would bleach them. My heroic husband tackled this step for me, embracing the opportunity to wear my laundry apron.

If the mold removal/hot water/sun dry experiment fails I am not sure what my next step will be. Do I buy new towels? Or a new washing machine? Could someone provide me with a cost benefit analysis of this situation?


5 responses »

  1. Craig Gundersen

    We also have a front loading washing machine that is three years old- a Fridgidaire – but we do not seem to have the problems you are encountering. Were the towels acceptable when you (Courtney) were here? So, the problem may be with respect to the brand or age of the machine.

    With resepct to the cost-benefit analysis of buying a new machine, it sounds like the benefits to getting a new machine would be quite high. Moreover, it seems like the othe solutions you have pursued have not worked. Thus, I would definitely consider this especially since (at least from our perpective) the problem could potentially be solved with a new machine.

    • Craig – the towels were perfectly acceptable when I was there, so your hypothesis about the age or brand may be correct. Though I assume that Diego, in his role of laundry king, cleans your machine every month or so. He seems like he would be on top of that. And because of that I think you need to raise his allowance. (Diego, I am always looking out for you.)

  2. I am eternally grateful that you did not decide to test the strength of our friendship by handing me q-tips and bleach. Eternally. Grateful.

    I don’t know how we didn’t pin the smell down to the towels ages ago. I am so sorry that our noses failed you. I am turning in my Most Excellent Nose card today.

  3. Our washer does the same thing!! I made the washer repair man replace our rubber seal ring. And, it happened again! I was told that there is a washing machine washing solution you have to use, which I think is ridiculous!! So, they told me I have to leave the damn thing open ALL the time. I am also spraying with Lysol EVERY time I use it. I will NEVER get a front loader again!!!!!


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