TUCSON, Ariz. - Front loading washing machines clean well, use less water and are often gentler on clothes, compared to top-loaders. But the machines are also known to have issues with odors and mold. Consumer Reports says there are a number of variables that can cause mold in front loaders.
“The problem with front loaders is that it’s a closed system so they may not dry out if you don’t leave the door open, which you really can’t do if you have young children," says Consumer Reports Home Editor, Sara Morrow Harcourt. "And we know that this can potentially create the kind of environment where mold and bacteria could thrive.”
A new machine from GE with several design changes and a feature called an Ultra Fresh Vent, which is supposed to eliminate excess moisture, promises to have the answer.
To check the vent feature, testers ran a load of laundry, then removed it and closed the door. Sensors placed inside the machine measured and recorded the humidity levels throughout the six day test. CR ran the same test with the vent turned off.
“This was a limited test but when we compared the data, our initial results found the feature did in fact reduce humidity," says Harcourt. "But that alone is no real guarantee that mold or bacteria won’t flourish in the machine.”
And while this GE did perform excellently in CR’s tough cleaning tests, it doesn’t meet the CR recommended mark because of average brand reliability and poor owner satisfaction ratings.
A better option is a model from LG, a CR Best Buy for about $600. It offers excellent cleaning performance, water and energy efficiency. Plus LG’s get very good reliability and excellent owner satisfaction ratings.
CR says to keep your front loader fresh and to reduce moisture, dry the inside of the door and the rubber gasket. Open the dispensers to give them a chance to dry between loads. If young kids aren't scampering about, you can keep the washer door ajar, too. It’s also important to use the right amount of HE detergent and run a hot-water cycle monthly or more.