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Follow This One Tip and Say Goodbye To Bad Smelling High Efficiency Washer Machines Forever! |

My Purchase of a High Efficiency Washer and Dryer


About 10 years ago, I purchased my first front loader high efficiency (HE) washer machine and dryer.  High efficiency washer machines use less water and are more energy efficient making this a great purchase right?

Well yes and no….let me explain my struggles.  I remember when I first brought my new washer machine home.  I did my first load of laundry and thought something has to be wrong here.

First it sounded like a plane was taking off in my laundry room!  Second, there is no water or very little water at that when my clothes were washing!  How can these clothes get clean.

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So I called the manufacture and started to ask questions.  This was normal and she assured me the clothes would get clean.

Why Aren’t My Clothes Getting Clean?


So over time I accepted the loud noises coming from my laundry room and learned to accept the really low water levels, but I do have to say that I was and am not impressed with how these HE washer machines clean my clothes.  

I have to pretreat my stains and pretty much get the stain out before I put them in the wash or they just don’t get clean.  Now I should put a disclaimer on this.  I have always been the type of person who just throws my laundry in the wash, adds a bit of soap and expects them to come clean.

Laundry isn’t one of my favorite chores to say the least.  So maybe if I put a little more effort into pre treating my clothes I might have better results in this department.

There is one challenge that I just couldn’t conquer however and that was the smell that was coming from my HE washer machine!

What is that horrible smell?


So over time, my washer machine began to smell.  Not only did it smell moldy and musty but my clothes were starting to smell this way too.

I researched what to do about it and there was advise all over the place on what you should and should not do for bad smelling HE washer machines.

I hired someone to come out and clean and balance my machine.  That worked for a little while but the smell came back in a few weeks.  I kept my washer machine door open when not using it so it could dry out, but that didn’t fully work either.  I purchased the expensive HE washer machine tablets to do on a monthly cycle but those failed very quickly.

Finally, in a last ditch effort to have clean smelling clothes, I added this one ingredient and everything changed!

Add this one ingredient to every load for fresh smelling laundry &  for a clean HE washer machine!


So just what is this ingredient I am talking about?  Well it will cost you about a $1.00 per gallon and can be found in any grocery store!  Wait for it :-) ….alright, it is vinegar!  Vinegar you ask…yep, that’s right vinegar!  Now I use plain white vinegar and here  is how I use it.

Just like you buy laundry detergent, I buy a gallon of vinegar and keep it right next to my washer machine.  I load my HE washer machine up with clothes, add my soap and then in the bleach dispenser I fill it all the way to the top with white vinegar.

The vinegar helps kill the bacteria that grows in your washer machine and kills the order.  Not only does it kill the oder, but it helps with cleaning my clothes too.  If that wasn’t enough, it also softens your clothes naturally.

Is Vinegar The Answer To Everything?


So lets take a look at this:  vinegar cleans clothes, gets rid of nasty smells in laundry and in the machine and it softens your clothes too!

Wow, I would call vinegar my little miracle in the laundry room!  Who knew one little ingredient could do so much!

So finally I have clean soft clothes, and a washer machine that doesn’t smell.  I still have a plane taking off in my laundry room however, but I can live with that :)!

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Share Your Thoughts


We would love to hear your thoughts!  Do you enjoy your HE Washer machine? Or has your experience been somewhat similar to mine?

So What are your Thought?  Does Your HE Washer Machine Smell?

Final Comment

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Join the Conversation

135 thoughts on “Follow This One Tip & Say Goodbye To Bad Smelling High Efficiency Washer Machines Forever!”

  1. Aimee DiRienzo says:

    Thanks for sharing! Ours is currently afflicted, but i was too uninterested to investigate!! 😉

    1. bbirchenough says:

      I don’t have any answers to the not cleaning clothes problem. I have tried everything. As to the odor, vinegar is good, but when I run the “clean cycle”, I fill the detergent slot with Borax and the bleach slot with vinegar. It works much better that just vinegar or bleach alone.

      1. va says:

        I would use bleach OR vinegar but not both. Mixing them will lower the pH, which cleans the smell and mold better, but if you combine them you get chlorine gas. A weapon used in World War 1. Poison gas was outlawed in 1925 after WW1.

    2. Eric says:

      I’m on this page because we got a high efficiency washer and dryer this week, and it cleans absolutely terribly, no fresh scent, stain removing is rediculous. When you look at them in the store and wonder how they clean, apparently the logical answer we had in our heads was the right one…they don’t. These are going back to store ASAP. What do you call an expensive washing machine that doesn’t clean clothes?…A refund. At their cost, you don’t work around the problem, you get rid of it. This is a Samsung pair with nice ringtones, very esthetically pleasing and very useless. I need a washing machine, not a Kardashian.

  2. Julia Morrill says:

    Thank you for sharing. I’ve been thinking I need to do something but wasn’t quite “brave” enough to put vinegar in my wash. Thanks!

  3. Alannah Allbrett says:

    good tip, some of us (me) had never even heard the term “HE” high energy machines. Of course I’ve seen them advertised but way behind the times.

  4. Lynn Shaffer says:

    ThAnk you for posting — I could have written that ( except for the noise). Will definitely give it a try

  5. Tami Salzmann says:


  6. Tami Salzmann says:

    I got tired of the smell in my front load washing machine too and started to use vinegar with every load. It has been wonderful. My clothes actually smell clean now. I use to have this horrible odor on my towels and dish rags. I hated having them out when company was coming because I thought the smell was just horrible. And then I discovered vinegar. My family thinks I’m crazy but I don’t care. I sure like the smell of my laundry now.

    1. "Nayelli says:

      I just did it last weekend I wash my towels and it has been great. I do really love it. I’ll be buying a gallon of vinegar next time I go grocery shopping because I just had a little bottle on the pantry and is over now :)
      My mom also thought I was crazy, but now want to give it a try

      1. Halle Cottis says:

        Happy to hear it worked!

        1. Pearl Garden says:

          Yes, my HE washer was starting to smell but my husband had already done his homework for our old top loader, so we got that part covered. And you are absolutely right about the vinegar; it is a miracle liquid. Not only does it soften fabrics like nothing else, but…wait for it….it will set color. After years of buying fabrics, pre-washing and sewing and finding my sewing machine staining, I started using white vinegar and cold water on new yardage – especially for quilts – and no more running colors. Since I hand wash my yardage, I use about 3-4 cups of vinegar in a sink of cold water, soak for a few minutes and rinse in clear water. Depending on the dyes and fibers, that may be all it needs, sometimes I have to repeat the process until the rinse water is clear.. There are websites that say vinegar will not set color, that its a myth, but I am here to tell you, it works. I would be my sewing machine on it.

  7. NathanielBailey says:

    Great post Halle, thank you for sharing such great information and handy tips :)
    Nath @

  8. amyhmalik says:

    I have always done this too, but I put it in the “fabric softener” dispenser too, because it really does replace chemical laden softeners.

  9. CarrieCookeRaab says:

    Very great article! Thank you for sharing with us at Healthy 2day Wednesdays! :) Carrie @

    1. @We buy cars Yes, You are right.

  10. Connecticut says:

    Thanks for sharing that Nice Article.

  11. SproutNewLife says:

    Have always been using vinegar.  It makes a GREAT fabric softener too.  I no longer buy fabric softener which leaves a film buildup in HE machines!

  12. Catherine Garbus says:

    Hey this is great mine doesnt smell but it sure doesnt do a good job of cleaning maybe this will help

  13. Shanna Williamson says:

    This really does work!

    1. wanda lentz says:

      I cannot complain ever about the service personnel at Sears, but the front loading washing machine is a piece of junk. It is loud, will not stay balanced but the WORST problem is that even with pre-treating, my whites look dingy. I have always prided myself on my laundry; not anymore. Does anyone make a top loader that cleans like the older models did?

  14. Patty Gerdes Charest says:

    I haven’t noticed a smell, but the gasket around the inside of the door is developing a black film on it that does not come off that easily. I use vinegar for the fabric softener all the time. I’ve had that gasket replaced 3 times already! And this last time it was twice the price!! I really do hate my front loader!

    1. Julie says:

      Try putting a half cup of baking soda in with your clothes. That helped my machine. Good luck!

  15. Gretchen Gauss says:

    I recently learned that vinegar is a good option for fabric softener. I use 1/2 cup in the softener compartment every load and miraculously the smell disappeared. I have also switched to Seventh Generation detergent and my clothes are getting cleaner. I still get the black film but will find a solution for this also.

    1. Sabrina says:

      I have extremely sensitive skin/allergies, so we use the ALL free & clear line. I have noticed that the more the washer smells, the less clean the clothes get. And I can’t wear them. They itch! Does 7th generation have a free & clear line?
      We have always added white vinegar to the was, but now I’ll be increasing the amount by @ least 1/2 C. I also have to add baking soda to the wash cycle (it makes it soo much easier to get clothes clean in our area). That has helped keep the smell out of our clothes too.

  16. Janalin says:

    I love that you posted this!  I have a HE set after designing my laundry room around them and wish I had never done so because of the aesthetic.  If I could have my post college $800 top loading pair back I would take them in a heartbeat!

  17. CJCN4757 says:

    I purchased a HE washer a few months ago.  After selling our house and the buyer wanting the 25+ year old maytag washer and dryer.  big mistake,  the HE is not what it is marketed to be!  uugghh!

    1. Sarah Hill says:

      It is not just the he machines that smell. I have a top loader that has the choice of water levels but it is one of those quite running machines that runs slow and the clothes are not agitated but just moves up and down. I have to use a cleaner for washers about once a month. Wish I had never got it. It makes no sense to have to pay for cleaning something that is a cleaner. I will definitely try the vinegar and thanks for the article.

  18. Darlene says:

    I have repair person here now.  We have a 7 year old Frigidire front loader and our symptoms were for a few weeks loads weren’t draining and would require an additional drain and spin cycle to get rid of the water.  Then we started getting a “code” E20 and smell…oh what a smell!  He took the machine apart and found a rotting ball of lint in the drain area.  Yuck!  He said it’s common with front loaders to collect lint and other small items.  Can’t do much about the lint, but make sure you check pockets folks

  19. Karla M says:

    I love that my front loading machine can do much more laundry in less time, however,   I do hate the smell that comes from a front loader. 
    I am so glad you told us about vinegar and can’t beleive that I never thought of this.  I LOVE vinegar and use it for so many things, like windows, kitchen counters and floors. It is a natural cleaner and it is so cheap! 
    I am definitly going to use it in my washer!!  Thanks for sharing this idea! I am never without vinegar!!!

  20. Laundry 365 says:

    Karla M If you use vinegar in your machine don’t forget to rinse it well after so not to risk staining your cloths or having them smell of vinegar! All The Best Laundry365

  21. MaliaEtanaAsale says:

    Thanks a bunch for this tip! I just moved to an apartment and I have a front load washer in my unit. I noticed a smell this morning and immediately went to Google. I used vinegar to get cigarette smells out of some baby clothes I got at a yard sale and it did the trick, so I will be picking up a gallon this weekend. Thanks again.

  22. Mary F says:

    I’ve done this for several years and started doing it when one of the kids had lice.  It helps the colour stay fast, naturally softens and helps keep some bacteria and viruses down.  As for the HE front loader, it depends on the brand.  I don’t know about the different U.S. brands.  We live in Europe, where front loaders are the only type of washer sold.  We own a German brand, Miele.  Now – no lie, it’s expensive but boy, does it work great.  The clothes are LOADS brighter than with an American toploader and can cover any temperature from cold out of the tap to almost boiling.  Good luck with your washer.  Keep using the vinegar.

    1. Halle Cottis says:

      Thank you I plan on it! :)

  23. BarbaraPowers says:

    My Maytag is a beast and cleans my clothes just awesome! However, that smell is very annoying, especially in towels. I use the vinegar in place of fabric softener and it’s a win/win.

  24. pam says:

    I’ve been using VINEGAR with EVERY wash for many years. It’s all you said and MORE.. It keeps the inside of the drum spick and span and shining like the day it was purchased back in 2005. My last washer was in full use for 17 years. NOT ONE REPAIR. Finally it decided to spit up OIL! (my description to the problem) But it continued to work, and not miss a beat. Still in USE the day they brought my new machine in. I also use VINEGAR down all sinks, toilets, clean windows/mirrors/glass. Use VINEGAR(always WHITE) on soft cloths to polish furniture(wood and more) Countertops..and in my dishwasher. LOVE VINEGAR. My kids are in their 50’s but their diapers were aways rinsed in VINEGAR as were their bub clothes.Now I do all the dogs laundry/rinsing with VINEGAR.Cheap as……….

  25. JoAnne Bell says:

    I have sure had that odor; but I countered it by leaving the washer door open. Never realized I could get rid of it with vinegar and (finally) close the door! Thank you!

    1. Halle Cottis says:

      I still would leave the door open so it has a chance to air out.

  26. julie says:

    I have heard the HE washer need to be cleaned on a regular basis. I’m going to give the vinegar a try right now with a load of towels. Will post my results. Thanks for the info.

    1. Halle Cottis says:

      If you towels have a build up in the (of detergent and fabric softener) you might want to try this method first. If it is just the washer machine that smells, then go with the vinegar method.

  27. Susan says:

    I will sure be trying this! We’ve had our HE machine for 2 years now with no odor only because we have been wiping dry the inner rubber seal every time we use ours, such a pain! But I do notice at times that some areas on the clothes are dry when I take them out. Has anyone out there also experienced this? What should I do?

    1. Halle Cottis says:

      Are your close coming out clean? I had this happen and called the manufacture and they told me that some items spin longer making them dryer (like towels). This was normal. Just make sure the items are getting clean.

      1. Susan says:

        Halle, this is another thing, I’m not too sure they are coming out clean. We don’t get “dirt” dirty, so it’s hard to tell, but my feeling is, they are not getting super clean. But I think there were some comments here stating that the vinegar also cleans the clothes better?

  28. Pamela says:

    You may be using too much detergent. HE machines only require 1-2 tbsp MAX.
    I have been extremely happy with my Kenmore. It is gentle on the clothes and they have never been cleaner. I even tested a really black-soiled white rug in it and it came out super-white. Do an occasional load on the white or sanitizing setting to ensure no build-up and yuck forms on the gaskets, etc.

    1. Halle Cottis says:

      Great tips, thank you so much. I now do my towels with baking soda only and we have stopped using detergent all together for them. I agree, to much detergent is not a good thing!

  29. Okay it is easy leave the door open you. It will never start to smell. They use about 7 gallons of water compared to top loader that uses 30 to 40 gallons U used mine for ten years never had a problem cleaned fine no pretreating bought a Frigidaire loved it.

  30. kimberley says:

    I had a repair man out too. Nothing in the drain underneath…I use vinegar all the time, also tried adding baking soda
    and I tried tea tree oil.. nothing has helped the sulfur smell.

  31. kimberley says:

    I have tried vinegar, vinegar and baking soda.. tea tree oil.. had a repair here too. I drain water out of drain weekly on bottom
    and tried to wash only in cold water for a while…. sulfur smell is still there..

  32. s_joe says:

    Thank you for your advice. But I found a way of my own. I hate those washer too. I believe that only enough water will clean clothes and remove stains and odour. That’s why I add a bucket of water every intake cycle. And only this way clothes get cleaned.
    Try this: once washing is finished do not take out clothes. Start extra rinsing cycle and pour enough water thru front drower. Could be two galons before you see the water level reaching a half of washer compartment. Observe the foam and viscosity of water. That’s all that detergent that didn’t rinse out during normal washing cycle. Now imagine what are you actually wearing in touch with your skin and that’s not clean clothes .

  33. Dar says:

    I like the tip about adding more water sjoe. I also believe they need more water as I have found some clothes still folded and dry when the cycle finished.

  34. Phil says:

    One final comment on H/E washers: Apparently, newer models have resolved this issue but it is worth doing the research, as design engineers were tasked with resolving the issue with a “fix,” and couldn’t do it, a total re-design was needed.

  35. diana says:

    I use this also for years as a softner, I also use washing soda and borax along with my regular laundry soap. Also, I leave the door ajar and make I clean the bottom filter

  36. Madonna says:

    thanks for the tip. i already use vinegar as a rinse & did slow down the smell but i never thought to put it in the bleach compartment..cant wait to do another laundry to try it out

  37. Carol A. says:

    I have been using vinegar in my clothes for a year now, I think it brightens colors, removes odors (car oil), and really brightens whites. I too have a Front Loading HE washer (it will be my last!), and have the odor problems. If my door stays open then that helps tremendously! But alas, I still have to use the expensive washer cleaners (makes no sense to me HOW can a machine that cleans get dirty?) anyway, my question prior to my rambling was…do you now leave your door shut?

    1. va says:

      I keep the door open all the time

  38. Sue Miles says:

    For accuracy’s sake, vinegar (acetic acid) is more of an anti-fungal than an anti-bacterial. It may have some bacteriostatic activity, but it is a wonderfully thorough killer of all kinds of mold and fungus, which are major culprits in causing odors. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is also a wonderful anti-fungal, and using it in powdered form (just 1/4 tsp or so) in your flour bin (and other similar foods, e.g. rice or oats) will eliminate mold (and weevil) growth.

  39. Sheila Popovich says:

    We use vinegar as fabric softener and also with the final spin cycle when doing cloth diaper loads. Finding a good cloth diaper cleaning routine can be a task but the vinegar really helps strip the cloth so that it maintains absorbancy and rids it of odors. We’ve had a front loader for 5+ years and love it- ours it actually much quieter than the old top loader which is nice since the laundry is adjacent to the kitchen.

  40. Melissa says:

    I balance my front loader with a piece of cardboard under one corner as mine to sounds like a space shuttle going off. Thanks for the vinigar tip, mine too smells terrible and I am forever cleaning the mold out of the dispenser. Do you also need to add vinigar to the softening dispenser for that cycle.

  41. jan says:

    UGHHH..I hate my front loader. Have a LG one. Have the smell and the clothes are not clean. I have used vinegar for a long time. Still stinks! jan

    1. Kim says:

      Jan I have probably the same model as you LG… Not impressed and it wasn’t cheap either!

  42. Vanessa says:

    We’ve had our LG Tromm for several years now and love it. We do use vinegar for fabric softener and add some lavender essential oil to the vinegar. We make our own liquid laundry soap, and we use hydrogen peroxide in the bleach compartment. We do drain in out at least once a week and clean out that filter at that time. We also leave the door open to air it out. We haven’t had a real bad odor ever, but my mom’s had the odor problem and started using vinegar and it has helped her. For her it was the fabric softener build up causing her the problem.

  43. Amy B says:

    I bought a Samsung front loader about 2 years ago. I love it! I have never had an odor problem. I leave the door open and never use commercial fabric softener. I make my own detergent. The salesman told me the way to avoid the odor common in front loaders is to never use liquid fabric softener. It builds up in the machine and then starts to rot. I sometimes use vinegar (when I remember). I also run a cleaning cycle when the machine tells me to. I picked the Samsung because it has it’s own cleaning cycle and does not need the expensive washer cleaning tablets.

  44. Sarah Hill says:

    It is not just the he machines that smell. I have a top loading machine that is one of the quiet machines where the clothes do not agitate back and forth but are pulled down. It has 3 water levels but I have to clean it every month or so. I wish I had never got that type but you live and learn. It cost about as much to keep it clean as you pay for laundry detergent, I am glad to learn of the vinegar and will definitely try itl Thanks for the article!

  45. Michelle Way says:

    Thank you SO much for this information! I LOATHE my front-loading HE washer because it always stinks no matter what I do and my towels never smell good. Today I put vinegar in the bleach dispenser and now my towels smell fresh and clean for the first time in almost a year! Whoo-hoo!

  46. Sue says:

    I’m glad to hear others don’t like their HE washers, it seemed I was the only one. I bought a frontloader HE about 10 yrs ago. 3 months later I insisted the store take it back. NOTHING came clean! Their claim I could wash 20 pairs of jeans or towels was totally bogus. I couldn’t wash 4 pairs of jeans well! I bought a used top loader/agitator washer again, and voila, clean clothes. I used it several years and it finally died also, and I was forced to pick out another HE because that is all you can find now (was told toploaders are not being manufactured any more). I used That washer for 6 months and HATED it! NOTHING came clean, and watching it wash, no wonder! It didn’t move the clothes at all and there was no water! Even pretreating didn’t help! I insisted Lowes take it back, but was again forced to buy another HE. In deep humiliation, a MAN made me watch videos there in the store on “how” to wash clothes in an HE. I was so mad, I told him I’d raised FOUR boys on a farm, we had never had trouble with having clean clothes until now!! Anyway, this one I have now is a bit better, but to be honest, I’ve never wanted to say this outloud, I’ve never been satisfied on the efficiency of it cleaning ‘under garments’ or socks. I think that is why the popularity of the dumb commercials for toilet paper keeping your undies cleaner and stuff has gotten so popular, because these newer washers aren’t doing their job!! Thanks for the tip, I just needed to vent about these stupid washers. I told my husband I’d be looking for an old wringer washer at this rate! (yes, I’ve owned those also!) I hope none of you ladies are ever forced to watch videos on how to wash clothes in a Lowes store like you are a moron. I will try the vinegar, I use it in my dishwasher, and for other things, so this has got to be a good thing, even if it doesn’t really help remove dirty sock stains, lol.

  47. Teri says:

    Geeez … Let me just say I am very glad I read this before purchasing a new HE front loading machine because now I def won’t be ! I’m sorry you ladies had to learn the hard way. That is SO not right !

    1. va says:

      I understand the HE top loading machines are just as bad and leave clothing dry with dry soap at the top of the wash load when the cycle is finished

  48. Shawna says:

    Can I use laundry softener along with the vinegar?

  49. Lisa says:

    The vinegar helps! I also recommend leaving the washer door open when not in use for added freshness.

  50. crystal says:

    I get white marks on my black clothes only.I have tried small loads and very little he detergent but still there any ideas how to rid my black clothes of this??

    1. Halle Cottis says:

      Are you using liquid detergent or powdered?

  51. Carol A says:

    I discovered vinegar because of the exact problem you were having…STINK! Nothing grosser than stepping out of the shower and grabbing a clean towel that smells like it had been sitting in a hamper damp for a week. I I use about 1/2 cup for each load, I fill up the bleach compartment and just tossed the rest in the tub. I use 2/3-1 cup for whites, I feel they come out brighter. I still leave my washer door open too.

  52. sheree says:

    Thanks so much for this advice. i have always noticed this smell in the washer and we have a little house so you can smell it as soon as you walk in the door. i kind of just ignored it..but it has gotten so strong that my husband is complaining about it. i tried to tell him that many people i have talked to that have HE washers experience the same thing. my stepdad uses vinegar for stain removal purposes..and trust me no one has cleaner clothes than him. so I’m really excited to try this out.

  53. Lisa says:

    Hi, I cam upon your site because I have had a front loader for 15 years and I also from time to time have foul smells coming from this machine! I read every reply lol and went right to my machine and ran vinegar with a load! Hope it works out but i Just wanted to say too also use a cup of vinegar inside your dishwasher as well they will come out sparkling clean with no water spots! i NEVER thought about using this with my washer! Thanks for the info!

  54. lexi says:

    there you have it. you said Meile. of course – I’m surprised it doesn’t fold them for you too. I hate my front loader. I despise it!!! I posted my sentiment on fb and had an outpouring of shared feelings about theirs. except one person. she owns a meile. going to store now and buying vinegar asap!

  55. Joe says:

    I’m a single dad trying to keep my kids clean. Purchased a decent Samsung W/D set (top loading washer). Barely allows enough water to cover the clothing. I wondered about that but the salesman (I should have known better) and the company literature were reassuring. I didn’t notice the odor right away, then when I did I thought I was getting a sinus infection. After visiting the doctor twice and learning I wasn’t I felt the smell could be imaginary. Finally, I realized the smell was not just on me , it was on my kids, unacceptable. So I began to question what I was doing different from past W/D experience. Nothing, same detergent/softener, additional Febreze (especially sport and work clothes). Over time the odor worsened. It was keeping me awake at nights. Both the thought of it and then the reality of the odor in the linens too. They are not washed with clothes? Finally it dawned on me, it’s in the washer. Wouldn’t ever suggest a HE top or front loading unit to anyone. Hope the vinegar works or it time for another unit after only a year. I feel like Samsung ripped me off. I hope I can still buy an old fashioned washer that uses sufficient water.

    1. Halle Cottis says:

      I am with you here Joe. We will be going back to the good ‘ol days when the time comes to purchase again.

  56. Tammy says:

    I started making my own laundry soap and fabric softener about a year ago, and I LOVE IT! Simplist thing ever and my ‘sensiftive’ part of the family no longer itches, and my not-so-sweet smelling teenager, no longer has that ‘smell’ that no one can identify! lol!

    1 Gallon container
    1 cup Dawn dish soap
    1 cup borax
    1 cup washing soda
    I fill container about 1/3 of the way with water, add borax and washing soda, and mix. Fill container with more water to about 3/4 way full. Add dawn dish soap, top off container (slowly) with water. shake prior to each use.
    (Dawn helps to cut any grease on clothing)

    Fabric Softener:
    1 gallon container
    16-18oz of favorite scented cheapest hair conditioner
    1 cup vinegar
    add both ingredients to container, fill rest of way with water. shake prior to each use.
    Vinegar does what vinegar does best (cleans and deoderizes while also helping to get all soap out of clothing), and conditioner helps to cut down on the smell while working together to soften clothes.

    and it saves SOOOOO much $$$$$

  57. Linda says:

    I totally agree Janalin. Working in the construction field, sometimes my clothes have to be run through the wash 2 times, I never had to do this when I had a top load. I do use the white vinegar but not in every wash. I’ll try that but as soon as this sorry excuse for a washing machine is ready for the scrap heap, back to the top load for me.

  58. Cathy Lynn says:

    I’ve been using vinegar as fabric softener but still have the smell. Can I use it in the bleach AND softener compartment?

  59. Cathy Lynn says:

    I’ve been using vinegar as fabric softener but still have the smell. Can I use it in the bleach AND softener compartment?

  60. Lacey says:

    Do you know if using white distilled vinegar works also?

    1. Halle Cottis says:

      Yep, sure does.

  61. Rose Morton says:

    God yes, we had the same problem. I was overjoyed to get a set of these HE machines. They’re great and the list of options for washing and drying amazing, but alas after about a year I think the smell began. It’s not unlike as if a cat took a pee in your clothes, not only that no matter what softener you use the towels were the worst… rough and smelly. also tried a cleaning from a repair man and like you a couple of weeks and the smell was back. I will try your suggestion of vinegar and the added borax for cleaning cycles. This reminds me of a situation where I was learning airbrushing (form of art) and my teacher asked me why I was paying 13 bucks for a small bottle of cleaning fluid for the tool. He said it was just white or uncolored windexwindow washer fluid. So from then on that’s what I used lol. Thanks for the tip.

  62. Donna Sims says:

    I had never heard of a HE washer and, after reading your comments, don’t think I’ll ever buy one. I appreciate the tip about the vinegar and will be trying that but I wonder how much vinegar to use in an old style top loading machine. I just today discovered your site and am liking it very much.

  63. Yolanda Rodriguez says:

    Doing the vinegar in my load at this time, crossing my fingers because I’m sooooo tired of that smell & having to wash my loads more than once ( up to 3 times with whites), ugggghhhh I’m with everyone against and soooo tired of my HE washer! & yes the minute it breaks down going back to top loader!!! FYI the only reason I don’t get rid of it now is to avoid the argument with my husband who told me repeatedly we didn’t need such expensive washer & dryer…

  64. A Murphy says:

    Great suggestions! I will definitely try the vinegar. Fyi, I mix vinegar with water and wash my blueberries before putting them in my fridge. Never have moldy berries anymore. Vinegar has been found to be so useful in many ways. Thank you all for sharing your experiences with so many.

  65. Ann says:

    Mine is a top loader Whirlpool and it stinks. Seems that some soaps are worse than others. Pursil powder laundry soap is very very expensive, but works better but not good.
    Is there any powder laundry soap still out there that are affordable?
    I will try the vinegar in the wash. Have my fingers crossed.


  66. Jennifer says:

    I have a top loader ‘he’ that gets really stinky in the summer. I want to try adding vinegar to my loads but am concerned about putting that into my septic tank system. Has anyone researched if there is any problem with vinegar and septics? Thanks!

  67. GabbyJoMommy says:

    OMG thank you! Vinegar is my moms best friend…she uses it to get rid of fruit flies…ants…and now I will def be sharing this info with her :) Our washing machine has a horrible odor and it leaves our clothes smelling icky. This article is a GOD SEND!

  68. Mindy says:

    I use a 40 lb bag of dog food on the top of the washing machine to”keep the plane from taking off”/ vibrating washer.

  69. Kayla says:

    I heard using baking soda to shake in drum and add vinegar to the bleach dispenser would fix the prob. I also drain it monthly because I found out that I should have been doing this but I think the smell got 10x worse!!! I have ran it in sanitize, clean washer, cleaned the glass part and it has not helped. I have also ran a cycle with bleach but I think I need to try the borax. Has anyone had this prob.?

  70. Veronica says:

    I am definitely going to have to try this out! I’ve done some research and across the board folks are mentioning white vinegar. I’ll be so glad when the smell is gone!

  71. andrew relf says:

    4 Rules to Make your Front Load Washer Work Better

    Your front load clothes washing machine only uses about 25% of the water that would be used by a top-loading machine. This is a significant saving and probably one of the reasons you switched to a front loader. Unfortunately, it has also led to misunderstanding and confusion by consumers because manufacturers are not explaining the idiosyncrasies of these machines. Additionally, consumers are not educating themselves about their new style washer and the methods necessary to obtain a good quality wash. Most people are simply assuming that the methods used in their previous washer will apply. Therefore we offer the following article to explain the four most common misunderstandings.

    1… Detergent Type
    Due to the machines tumbling action a front load washing machine needs special detergent called high efficiency (h-e) detergent. It’s a low suds detergent that is necessary to allow a front loading washer to operate properly. When buying detergent look for the letters ‘h’ and ‘e’ inside a circle, it’s the universal logo for this type of detergent. Don’t be tempted to use standard laundry detergent because it’s less expensive. Using the wrong detergent can result not only in a poor quality wash but also, detergent left in clothing fibers, water leakage, bad odors, mildew, and unnecessary strain upon the machine. Using standard laundry detergent in a front loader will be a decision that can come back to haunt you.

    2 … Detergent Quantity
    How much detergent is required by a front loading washer? A good place to start is how much you used in your previous top-loader, and then half or quarter that amount. If after a couple of loads of washing you’re satisfied the clothes were cleaned then lower the quantity of detergent used still further. Try a quarter of a cup or less for the next few loads. Many of our customers who use liquid detergent report that they only use a tablespoon of detergent per wash.

    Most front loaders come with a detergent dispensing drawer where your laundry detergent, fabric softener, or bleach is inserted prior to starting the cycle. Look inside the dispenser cups for a mark or line indicating a suggested amount to use. But even with these guidelines many consumers continue to grossly overfill the detergent dispenser. This is usually because consumers simply can’t believe how little detergent a front load washing machine uses. The detergent level markings seem so low many people think they are incorrect, or not to be taken seriously. They unwisely assume that such a small amount of detergent will result in a poor wash – this is untrue.

    Additional confusion can result when comparing the amount indicated in the detergent dispenser with the recommendations on the detergent box. What many people don’t understand is that the box recommendations are general suggestions only. Suggestions that must encompass all makes and types of washing machine, all load types, all load sizes, fabric type, water temperatures, and the waters mineral content. The suggestions on the detergent box are in no way specific to front-loading washers, nor your particular needs. Even your water hardness affects the amount of detergent required. While harder water requires more detergent per load, a softer water needs less detergent per load. Additionally, detergent type affects the quantity needed per load. For example, since liquid detergents are more concentrated they require less per load than a powder type.

    3 … Fabric Softener
    Again, because of the small amount of water used by a front loader the amount of fabric softener required per load must be lowered significantly. In fact, it should never be used full strength in a front-loading washer. Don’t be tempted to pour it directly from its container into the fabric softener dispenser cup. Instead, the fabric softener must to be diluted with water before being added to the machine. A dilution ratio of 7 to 1 is suggested. That is: Seven parts of water to every one part of fabric softener. The easiest way to do this is to mix it in an alternate storage container. Something such as an old (clean) wide-mouthed juice container with a screw cap works well. Add one cup of fabric softener to the container followed by seven cups of water, secure the lid, and shake the bottle to mix. This will provide you with enough of the proper mixture for about fifty loads of washing.

    4 … Water Temperature
    Lastly, we suggest avoiding cold-water wash unless you are washing lingerie or delicate items. This is because the combination of low water volume and cold water during the wash section of the cycle may not wash away all the detergent from the clothing fibers. This can result in your clothes taking on a prematurely dull or worn appearance. Cold-water washing can also result in a deposit of detergent, fabric softener, and debris between the tubs that results in the production of very bad odors. Odors that may get so strong that they will even impregnate the clothes. Note, we said cold water ‘wash’ — not cold water rinse. Therefore, a hot wash followed by a cold rinse cycle is acceptable. Or a warm wash followed by a cold rinse is also okay. It’s only the cold wash and cold rinse combination that should be avoided. A worst-case scenario is when consumers combine a lot of cold water washing with excessive use of detergent, followed by full strength fabric softener. This can result in the machine starting to produce a mildew odor that will be almost impossible to eliminate.

    Therefore as has been shown above even though the front loading clothes washer is an amazingly efficient piece of machinery it’s one that requires a slight adjustment in your way of washing. But in my opinion they are definitely worth the rethink. Putting into action the above methods will allow you to use this machine to its maximum, resulting not only in clean and sparkling clothes but at a substantial cost saving to you and your family.

  72. Anne O'Brien says:

    Halle, I think you’re absolutely right about leaving the door open no matter what. I’ve had a Samsung HE for about 7 years and never had any problems with odor until now. It’s not bad but I’m going to try the vinegar. I have found my machine are expensive to repair, but I have been happy with the way cleans.

  73. Black says:

    Excellent Thank You I was having the same problem ‘smelly wash’ Now I started using the Vinegar – except on chip day

  74. Anne says:

    You may also want to consider having your machine leveled. Even if you don’t mind the noise, not having it properly leveled can shorten the life of your motor.For what these things cost, it’s well worth it.

  75. Ms. Jabo says:

    Today I really smelled it. It was horrible. My next load will definitely include white vinegar. Will let you know. Thanks for the great advise.

  76. Rachell says:

    Vinager will also get dog urine out of clothing too. We went through the puppy stage, and vinager in the HE machine saved one puppy from ???

  77. Lou Whitcomb says:

    Thank you for this post…I have a Steam HE washer and drier and love it. I use bleach for my whites once a week and haven’t had any trouble but I also leave the door open a little. I will try the vinegar for my machine in the Motor Home as it doesn’t get my cloth clean enough for me…

  78. viki says:

    Well HE machines are a bit of trick here. The true European machines (front load) first use small amount of water, better detergents. Those machines are TRUE washing machines since they go up to 90C. Ours here use hot water from the tank but to have nicely bright laundry they needs to have cold water coming and then wormed up to 90C so the whole process is much longer. The truth is you do not need to much water with the right technology and detergent. It is not about the amount of water that is in. When you clean your stains you do not use gallons of water….just a good detergent (that is imported and again much more expensive).
    Of course, the price for these machines are much much higher and they are smaller so not necessarily HE but what is important to me is end result – nicely washed clothing. Also, I barely use dryer since they are “killing” your clothing no matter how well you wash them. Over the short period of time they look old, so I have my laundry out on the Sun whenever I can.
    Yes, tips about vinegar and baking soda are true and I use them just occasionally in my washing(European) machine even though I never have a smell but just to keep it in a good shape.

    1. Dean says:

      Ah, yes you do need a fair amount water to clean.

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  80. Ron Gallite says:

    For those of you who combine vinegar and baking soda, please remember your high school chemistry class.Vinegar is acidic and baking soda is a base which neutralizes the effects of an acid. You may very well be minimizing the acidic properties of the vinegar which kills the bacteria with the baking soda. I would suggest using them separately, therefor benefiting from the bacteria-fighting properties of both.

  81. Just Thinking says:

    Thank you for the great article on vinegar. I use it for just about everything but my HE washing machine. My next load will include vinegar! Wanted everyone to know, I use white vinegar in my dishwasher rinse agent cup. My dishes are
    nice and shiney and no chemicals or polishes are being applied to my dishes.

  82. Kim R. says:

    Tried the vinegar and was pleasantly surprised! I wash my washer and dishwasher with those tablets and they sort of work. Can I use the vinegar in my dishwasher also? Trying the baking soda on my towels now. Wish me luck.

    1. Halle Cottis says:

      Yep you sure can use vinegar in dishwasher. Just put it in your rinse area (right next to where you put the detergent).

  83. Memama says:

    I often use vinegar in the wash if I’m afraid the colors will bleed. Seems to work to “set” the dye.

  84. Kim says:

    We also suffered from the problem of clothes smelling very unpleasant immediately after then were washed. It was obviously the Washing Machine that has something wrong. Much research on the interest and the suggested treatments did not help.

    I reverted to my swimming pool knowledge and after viewing a video showing what caused the problems, we treated our machine in the following way.

    Our Machine has a Trommel Reinigung program (drum cleaning program – we are in germany). So using this program we put the machine through 4 consecutive cycles:

    Cycle 1 : using a supermarket drain cleaner (caustic soda would also work). This is very good are removing the greasy/fatty building ups that cause the stink problem. Some of the liquid cleaners may cause a foam problem.

    Cycle 2 : using white vinegar (about a liter) and with the drum cleaning program

    Cycle 3 : using Cloudy Ammonia (it may be difficult to buy – in germany you can by it from hardware stores in the paint section under the name Salmiak Geist / Ammoniak). Be careful and DO NOT BREATHE in the fumes. This product is very good at removing fat …. but it is harsh.

    Cycle 4 : using a cheap supermarket powder designed for dishwashers. We used quiet a lot, about 1 full tea cup of powder.

    After this process we appear to have solved our stinking washing problem.

  85. P. Van Kirk says:

    Why are we consumers stuck with HE machines??? We have choices
    among cars that are more efficient, so why do we have next to no choices
    if we choose “front loading” washers? What “Big Brother” has made
    this decision on our behalf???

    1. va says:

      agreed. I miss the old fashioned agitating top loader

  86. SB says:

    I consider myself an experienced, meticulous laundress. Got my first front loader in 2005. That was the first time I’d dealt with odours. I used the recommended cleaning products but could not get rid of the smell. Replaced the set in December 2013 and once again the odour issue was back. I cleaned and cleaned, read advice online. Baking soda, Borax and vinegar were all supposed to remedy the problem but were not effective for me. Last week I came across a post that recommended switching to a powdered detergent. The theory being that liquid detergent is similar to fabric softener in that it can cause build up. I immediately ran out and bought powdered soap. THE ODOUR IS GONE!! I can now walk into my laundry room without being assaulted by that nasty odour. Not sure if this is the solution for everyone but I thought I would put it out there as another option.

    1. Halle Cottis says:

      Wow, so happy your odor is gone! Thanks for sharing!

  87. Jazz says:

    Thank so much for the tip. I don’t like my front loader either because of the mold issue and because i cannot let the clothing soak. If we had not paid so much for it ….I would be going back to a top loader. I use to soak my clothes by opening the cover and stopping the wash cycle. The clothes sat in the detergent for a half hour or so. Worked wonders. Front loaders will not let you soak your clothes and it is so disappointing. I also find i have to re-rinse bleach loads defeating the purpose of saving water. If anyone had found a way to soak in a front loader…please let me know.

    1. Anne Obrien says:

      I’m not sure why you need to soak your laundry in the first place. I can see a soiled item, but you could soak it in the sink. You can also try using a prespotter such as Zout. I’ve used it for shirt collars, wine stains and other stains and have never had a problem. Read the posts in this column, especially the very detailed one from Andrew in Sept. 2014 about using these machines and give yours another shot. I’ve had mine since 2008 and have been very pleased with it. Since I found the vinegar suggestions here,

  88. Crystal Hollywood says:

    My Maytag front loading HE washer is getting that horrible smell and was wondering what I could use because those cleaning tabs don’t quite do it so I am running it right now with your vinegar solution. I will know soon enough if it does the trick. Thank you for sharing!!! :)

  89. Myra Ciardi says:

    I can’t believe I spent $1000 on a washer that smells and doesn’t clean the laundry. I will try vinegar but I think I would prefer my money back and buy another. I too dried the machine and left the door open in hopes it would rectify the sour smell -to no avail.

  90. Samantha Porter says:

    I wanted to say thanks for this post. We just bought an HE washer yesterday and that was my first question, Can I still add vinegar to my laundry? I have 7 dogs and many, many doggy blankets. I use vinegar with these loads and all our bedding. Keeps my linens smelling fresh.

    1. va says:

      It would seem that there is an agreement in most of the sites I have looked at that you should use powdered detergent and use vinegar in the wash in place of chlorine bleach or fabric softener. Then softener sheets in the dryer.

  91. Cat says:

    I guess I am in the minority because I absolutely LOVE my HE washer and dryer. I inherited a Maytag Neptune many years ago and it gets my clothes beautifully clean, however, it does get an odor and requires a monthly deep cleaning to get it out.

    I used your tip of vinegar in the wash and now I am happy to say I no longer have to do the monthly cleaning!! I have a feeling the washer is on it’s way out, the dryer just died and I replaced it with an LG steam fresh. (love it!) So will probably go with the matching washer, and a ton of vinegar for it as well!!

    Thanks so much for this!

  92. Dean says:

    My HE washer had never washed properly. I searched for “how to increase water level in a front loader” on Youtube. It was a very simple adjustment to add more water to every load. Now my clothes come out just as clean as my old top loader while still using less water. It will not wreck your machine.

    Simply put the washer discharge hose into a large tote and you can see how much water the machine will use. Originally mine used less than 40 litres of water which saves nothing when you need to wash everything 3 times. It now uses up to 76 litres per wash but the clothes/towels come out clean. My old top loader used up to 160+ litres per wash.

    1. Halle Cottis says:

      Dean do you have a link on how to do this? I am sure others here would like to research this. Great tip, did not know you could do this!

      1. Dean says:

        Hi. I was going to purchase an old style top loader when I found out you could raise the water level. I washed a large comforter( dog barf infused) today. It came out nice and clean.

        Here is the address.

  93. k says:

    omg thanks alot hopefully this will help me out with this horrible smell on all my so called “clean” laundry im trying it out today!

    1. Dean says:

      You are welcome.

      I did not realize how crappy my machine cleaned until I did laundry at my inlaws. The water in their top loader was almost black. Ewwww.

  94. Art says:

    For those of you that are done with HE machines, and wants something that actually works without the BS and the headaches, try Speed Queen. Simple, mechanical, old school washer, gets the job done in 25 minutes.

  95. Julie says:

    Hello, I am having an HE top loading machine delivered next week as my old workhorse agitator died. So sad. Dreading any problem with the smell, this seems so rampant. Gld i found your article. Question 1: I hate the smell of vinegar, makes me absolutely sick. When you add vinegar to the wash, does the wash come out with any vinegar smell at all, or is it all gone once it’s done? Question 2: Some people said to add it to the bleach compartment, some said fabric softener compartment. What is the difference? I know if you add regular fabric softener, that you to add a fabric softener setting to the wash cycle. I just want to know which place is better to add it, bleach or FS? And want to make sure it won’t smell like vinegar at ALL! Thanks!

  96. Michelle says:

    Thanks for the tip! Guess i got lucky my front loading washer really does do a great job getting stains out & cleaning.

  97. Dr. Kirk says:

    Well, I have to say that I have tried all of the many suggestions mentioned in this and other posts and none of them work. Vinegar, baking soda, borax, bleach, fabric softener, etc. nothing has worked. I wear my clothes and 15 minutes into a slightly hot day and they smell! Too late to bring the washer back. Anyone have other suggestions?

  98. Belinda says:

    Just bought the latest GE model and it’s not a HE model, and having the same problem.

  99. Vail says:

    I have not tried the vinegar trick but did find every time I ran our front loader on warm or hot water the smell was worse. I had read detergent buildup was most likely the culprit and with two teenage daughters switched us to the pods to avoid overuse. I also had tried the cleaning agents they sell for he washers to no avail but found that the instructions for cleaning out the gunk called for cold water which kept me thinking why cold? I started doing all laundry on cold. I then noticed the outer “shell” of the pods didn’t always fully dissolve from the dispenser leaving a thick gunk I had to manually clean out so I started cutting open the pods before use and pouring the soap in dispenser then tossing the shell. I also switched from liquid fabric softener to dryer sheets but still use liquid bleach on the whites scented or unscented does not seem to make a difference. I use All Free pods not sure this matters as I had always used All free but still had odor before cutting open the pods. I truly believe my issue was detergent build up and since making these changes I don’t have the mildew like smell anymore. I have not used any cleaning methods in at least a year. We live in Colorado so I don’t dry out the washer after use but leave the door cracked following use. I was like many on this site hated my he washer but these changes have made all the difference!

    1. Halle Cottis says:

      Thanks for sharing Vail!

  100. Judy says:

    I had a whirlpool he washer and dryer, a new pillow with the edge to it (cannot think of correct name for this) was shredded to pieces and ruined not only the pillow but the rubber door seal.
    I got a new seal, and continued using it until I went to Lowes and bought a pair of maytag he washer and dryer.
    Judged mainly on the seal looking so much better than the whirlpool.
    I always take out the dispenser drawer and flip it over in the washer and leave washer drawer open all the way between wash days. No smell, never have cleaned it yet. Am going to try vinegar and maybe some hair conditioner if vinegar smell prevails even though I always use extra rinse. Also will try 7th generaltion clear (?) to get away from the chemicals. Loved Lowes sales people and bought what the clerk bought and loved also. She got me the best price also..

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