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drying clothes - how not to smell like mildew - maybe it's the washing machine's fault?  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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How about drying stuff in the attic or in a barn ?
 
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We just got a new metal roof put on which got my inner miserly cheapskate has been thinking about this.  Here's a guy that harnessed the heat in the attic for this.  Attic Heat Clothes Dryer.  Might not work so well in a PNW environment but here in sunny/low rh Oklahoma, it should work great.  
 
pollinator
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Here's a good compromise for people who don't like their clothes stiff after drying on the line. Bring them in once they are dry or almost dry, and set the machine for 10 minutes of air fluff. This will get rid of some allergens, and leaves towels less stiff. With a little bit of heat, it would allow those little herb bags to do their magic.
 
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Too much soap in a HE machine can cause mildew. Because over-sudsing doesn't allow the water to clean properly. It also makes it difficult for the soap to rinse all the way out. In my full sized front loading Bosch I find 2-3 Tablespoons detergent gives the cleanest results. My water is slightly harder than full soft. If you have hard water add 3 Tablespoons 20 Mule Team Borax to each load. Works wonders for brightness/odors and doesn't impair the rinsing like additional detergent would.

I've found that 1-2 Tablespoons of liquid bleach/load is safe on ALL clothes. Just dilute it well before it's added. This small amount of bleach will stop mildew dead in it's tracks. It's not cost effective to wash on hot to kill germs when this little trick works so well.
 
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I know this is going to sound crazy, but here goes. I learned it from the Alaskan Inuit when I was up there in the Air Force. They line dry their clothes year around, and it takes less than 20 minutes to dry their clothes in winter ( think -10 to -40 F ). If you have a large freezer with enough space to put at least some of your wash into it for maybe two to three hours, it will freeze solid. Then take it immediately outside and shake it out vigorously. This will dislodge the majority of the free water from the fabric. Then when you bring it in and put it on the rack it will have less water to shed and there is less water vapor being released back into the house.

On a side note, I have a dehumidifier with a humidity gauge / sensor that can be adjusted that I leave on year around in a small workshop that I have (16 x 24 ft). It took about 7 months to get enough moisture out of the wooden walls that it didn't run constantly. Now however it only runs for about 20 minutes at a time and then only about every two to three hours. It is plumbed to the outside so I don't have to empty it and there is no water sitting around to produce mold or get scummy. Get a good one with enough capacity for the room it will be used in and they are not that expensive to run.
 
pollinator
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I know it's an old thread but some people might find it when searching, If you go and get a dehumidifier be aware there are two types, the condensing type that seems to be mentioned here and a chemical type. The condensing ones use less power but will not work under around 15C they are measured for efficiency at 20C which is a temperature that my house never attains. The chemical version which uses silica gel, uses more power and will heat the room a little but it works with little loss in efficiency down to 1C So if you have a house or laundry room that is not warm pick a chemical dryer. We do not own a tumbler and dry clothes in the house in our furnace room they take around two days to dry in there without the dehumidifier but only 5 hours or so with it.
 
master steward
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Still having troubles.

In this weather, the clothes dry in 4 hours, so it must be the machine.  Tried to clean it and discovered lots of black slime.  I think it is mould!
 
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While you were cleaning your machine did you also clean the exhaust duct?
 
r ranson
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Jerry Sledge wrote:While you were cleaning your machine did you also clean the exhaust duct?



Do washing machines have exhaust ducts?

I clean the dryer ducts at least twice a year.

I'm trying to find the user manual for the washing machine.  It was filed away in a safe place where we would be able to find it quickly and easily.  Yeh, that never works.


This is a theory:  Not long after getting the new washing machine, I started having breathing problems and excessive allergies well beyond my norm.  This has gotten worse over the last 8 years.  I'm the only one in the house who hangs their clothes to dry because I hate clothing shopping and using the dryer means the clothes wear out about 9 times faster.  What if there's mould in the washing machine?  What if it's Black Mould?  What if this mould gets on my clothes and from the heat and moisture of my body when wearing these clothes, releases spores that I breathe in?  Maybe that mould wouldn't have a chance to seep into the clothes if it is dried in the machine?

Is this possible?

Even if it isn't, I need to discover what proper washing machine hygiene looks like.  We always leave the washing machine door open when not in use - but that's obviously not enough.  

 
Jerry Sledge
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My mistake, I thought you were using a dryer, not line drying. I have "fixed" dryers, that took hours to dry, by just cleaning the duct. Does the spin cycle not get the clothes dry enough or is it just the high humidity in your area. Borax kills mold. Maybe you could start a "wash load" (no clothes) and just stop the wash cycle and let it soak.

I have black mold on some of my walls and I used a mixture of dry wall powder and borax, 2 powder to 1 borax and spread it on the area of the wass and it has effectivly blocked the mold for weeks, so far. I now have to unload shelves to access smaller areas. My problem is that I have no place to put the stuff on the shelves. I have become an expert at putting things off therefore I am a "pro"-crastinator.
 
r ranson
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Two days ago, a member of the household used our last cup of a chemical that I won't mention ... it stinks, makes coloured clothes white and white cloth yellow.  I think you can guess what it is.  

They rubbed down the machine, especially around the seals with this chemical, added more of this chemical, and ran the tub clean cycle.  Then they took a clean cloth around the seals and there was just as much black muck there as before.  We ran a few loads of wash and the mould/mildew smell is still there!  Just as strong as before.

 
r ranson
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WHY did no one tell me this 10 years ago?!?

 
Jerry Sledge
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I recently bought an ozone generator. It is supposed to kill mold and spores along with some household pests. The problem is that it requires low temperature and low humidity. I'm only supposed to turn it on while I am now home.It's on a timer, 1 hour on and 1/2 hour off. It also removes odors.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I think I've come up with a reasonable solution. Using a wire, fashion a ring that is about the right size to be slipped into the gasket gap.  Use electrical tape or something else to create a big bump every few inches along the ring. When the door is left open, this will allow excess water to drip out of the bottom and it will allow air to circulate. You might want to have vinegar on hand in a spray bottle that is use after each wash.

As to the clothing not drying, I suspect that your house is too tight. I am currently living in a house that I don't heat, only a few kilometers from you and clothing dries just fine, hung from door knobs and coat hooks, with no heat source other than the sun. I was in a different house during the February cold snap and still managed to dry things in my unheated space. It's about air circulation and ventilation, not temperature.
 
r ranson
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We keep the windows open during the day in the winter and during the night in the summer.  We've been getting rid of excess stuff so that each room has a big open space in the middle for doing stuff (like drying clothes) and the air can flow through each room.  

The more I look at it, I think it's the washing machine not working correctly.  The top loader doesn't have the same problems, but it (supposedly) uses more water.  Great minds think alike and today I obsessed over "how does the water leave the machine?"

I drained the trap on the washing machine today.  The water that came out was black but no guck or objects in the trap.

Since it's been a few washes since they used chlorine in it, I figured it would be safe to try vinegar.  This seems to work a lot better than bleach!  I wiped down the trap and soap dispenser with cleaning vinegar (6 or 7% - strong enough to sting a bit) and then used a vinegar dampened cloth to start wiping some more black slime off the gasket.  Under the slime, there are these three holes in the bottom of the gasket.  I wondered if they were draining holes, so I got a toothbrush (wishing I had brushed my teeth first) and poured some vinegar in a bucket and used the toothbrush and vinegar to scrub around these holes.  Under the black slime was clear slime, and under that was another layer of gritty, black stuff.  I had to be careful not to let the guck fall down the holes because this would probably make a clog where I couldn't clean it.  But the vinegar did a great job at breaking up the slime and grid (calcium deposits?).  

It's doing a rinse with vinegar now while I read up on what other maintenance I can perform to improve this machine.  


I also poured over the instructions with great care and attention today.  It says to do a tub clean every few months to prevent detergent build up which may cause a possible mildew like smell.  Nothing about mould growing in the ring.  Nothing about how to clean and prevent this from happening!  Other than using a bit too much detergent early on, I think we've followed the directions in the manual.  So either they forgot to tell us something or it's a faulty design.  
 
r ranson
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So the area I spent two hours scrubbing with a toothbrush (one square inch) looks okay and things seem to be draining (for now).  But this is not easy work for me and I worry about damaging the gasket.

This claims to be eco-friendly

. Affresh brand is environmentally friendly, safe on septic tanks, and safe for all washer components.  



is it worth a try?
 
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r ranson wrote:So the area I spent two hours scrubbing with a toothbrush (one square inch) looks okay and things seem to be draining (for now).  But this is not easy work for me and I worry about damaging the gasket.

This claims to be eco-friendly

. Affresh brand is environmentally friendly, safe on septic tanks, and safe for all washer components.  



is it worth a try?


Maybe worth to test but you should know what it contains before you use it.
Mildew can harm the health so you have to do something.
 
r ranson
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New thought.  Is there a way to remove the gasket for deep cleaning?
 
Rolf Olsson
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r ranson wrote:New thought.  Is there a way to remove the gasket for deep cleaning?


There is and little different ways depending the maschine.The princip is the same and the thing that can be little difficult is the spring((s) that holds the seal.But I am sure you can do it in maybe a couple of hours.I have done it to my maschine and there was some dirt so it is absoulte worth it.
 
r ranson
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That looks a lot like mine, but no where near as dirty.  

Going to see if I can clean it without taking it apart first.  
 
Dale Hodgins
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I wonder if you could get a long hold time for vinegar, by cutting power to the machine after starting a load. Then turn the power back on and let it slide around a little more and cut it again. And so on and so on and so on. Or, I wonder if you could get a pool of vinegar to sit in the bottom of the machine where it contacts the entire drum at the bottom, and then rotate it by hand slowly over the course of a couple days, so the whole thing experiences a vinegar bath. This assumes that there's not something set up to drain it away from there the minute you pour it in.

My little top loader is so simple that I know it will never have this problem.

Another option might be to make a strong salt solution and spray it around the inside of the drum, leaving the door open so that it dries. I'll bet mildew doesn't like to be covered in really concentrated brine. Then after a few hours run the machine and rinse it out.

I've never had to deal with a shortage of water for laundry. If I did have such a situation, I would still use a top loader, but have it empty into a large settling tank reservoir. This would allow the ReUse of wash water. Sludge at the bottom could be drained off regularly and the tank would always stay full because we use new water for the rinse.
 
Dale Hodgins
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It occurred to me today that you may be using a type of soap that has wetting agents. I believe this makes the clothing more hygroscopic, so that it has a tendency to absorb moisture from the air. I had some denim pants that contained only a small amount of residual salt since I had used them when clearing snow. The bottom of those pants did not dry out as much as the rest.

So it may be that whatever you are putting on the clothes, is causing them to suck moisture from the atmosphere. The way to test this, would be to wash various items containing the same fiber in the washing machine with your detergent, and in the sink, just using a natural soap. If they both fail to dry out, it has to be to do with humidity. If the sink one dries out, then I suggest that your fibers are coated or embedded with a water absorbing substance.
.....
I think I'm wrong about this. I'm almost sure it has to be your humidity. But you have presented a strong case for it not being humidity, since you have been ventilating.
 
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r ranson wrote:New thought.  Is there a way to remove the gasket for deep cleaning?



Sounds like the washing machine is holding water after you’ve finished with it, so it’s acting like a reservoir between washes and causing the mould?

Yes, it could be a design issue, or, the drain hose may need renewing/cleaning. Also, if the hose is elevated or doesn’t have sufficient fall, it may cause back flow and water retention = moisture and nutrients to grow slime and mould.

We’ve got an old (pre-electronic) top loader that had a back flow issue and would cut off mid-cycle. A local repairman advised that the drain hose needs to have sufficient fall and capacity as the whole operation depends on an absence of vacuum. So, I messed around with the hose and voila, it worked!

We always leave the lid open between washes to ensure it is well ventilated and can dry out. The laundry room has good airflow, including a ceiling extraction fan if needed on particularly humid days.

I don’t envy you cleaning out that machine! Although not very ‘green’ have you considered the product CLR?

As far as drying clothes in wet and humid conditions, I use two methods: hang the clothes under an awning or verandah so a breeze can dry them over two or so days, or, place them on one of those wire clothes airers in a spare room and leave the ceiling fan on medium speed overnight – cheaper than a dryer and just as effective. When we’ve had several days of rain and the summer humidity is high, we’ve even put clothes on the airers and lined them up along the hallway to take advantage of the natural breezeway!

Nothing beats natural sunlight though.

(If you’re intending to remove soft or hard gaskets, suggest you have spares available as they’re notoriously easy to damage. Particularly if they are old – brittle and/or perished from chemicals/mould exposure.)

Isn't technology wonderful ... when it works!

 
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I haven’t noticed any mention of the temperature of the water that you are washing at? Could it be residue from a undissolved washing powder/ liquid / fabric softener accumulated in your machine?  Would some hot wash cycles with just water and/or vinegar minimise the smell?
 
Dale Hodgins
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I sometimes use an electric dryer for finishing. After things are dry or mostly dry from hanging, I put them in the dryer for just a few minutes. This gets rid of any stiffness from hanging.

I also sometimes use a dryer for cleaning. This is only done on a dryer that is going to be scrapped at the end of a demolition project. After shaking out dusty dirty clothing, I run them through the dryer at full heat for the first 5 minutes and then another 15 minutes just air fluffing. The lint trap tells me that I'm getting rid of lots of dirt. Not totally clean, but it's a quick fix. I also do it with my blankets on a regular basis, because they tend to get dusty.
 
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