Author Topic: Improving Washing machine effectiveness  (Read 7634 times)

MC

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Improving Washing machine effectiveness
« on: September 12, 2013, 10:24:07 PM »
We have a Maytag Commercial washer that came with our condo.  I have never considered replacing it, because I figured Maytag is good, right?  I still don't want to replace it, but two main problems with it.

First, it gets to a point where every load has that mildew funky smell to it.  We aren't letting the clothes sit while damp,and they smell that way anyway.  We stopped using dryer sheets, since we use liquid softener anyway, and with Greener detergents, I think they have less perfume to mask those kind of scents.  The last time this happened I read about cleaning the machine by running a load with white vinegar in it. That seemed to do the trick and is probably what I will do this time.  I was wondering if anyone else had similar experiences.

The second issue is that the machine just doesn't seem to do an effective job getting things clean.  We've started running smaller loads with no luck.  Especially with our two year old's clothes, we just don't have luck getting even basic food stains to wash out. Anyone have any suggestions on getting more effectiveness out of the machine? It's just not in our budget to replace it.

m8547

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Re: Improving Washing machine effectiveness
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2013, 06:46:40 AM »
Try running bleach through it. Lots of chlorine bleach. Also wipe down all surfaces of the seals and any surface you can see that has anything growing on it. I don't know why vinegar is so popular for everything; it's not a very strong cleaning agent. Also, leave the door open when you aren't using it so that it can dry out.

Maybe try a different detergent to improve cleaning? You could check Consumer Reports to see what their top rated detergents are. It's worth a try, but I get the same results with store brand detergent as with Tide.

If your machine is the same as the awful Maytag Commercial machines I've used in apartment laundry rooms for the past 5 years, I've never seen them actually clean things that are dirty. And mildew smell is unavoidable. The machines I've used only have one cycle length, with a choice of water temperature. A consumer grade machine will likely have many more options such as longer cycle times that give the detergent more time to work without using much more water or energy. But 1-2 hour cycles are not acceptable for shared laundry facilities because they would need a lot more machines than with 38 minute cycles.

Non-chlorine bleach (such as oxy-clean or chlorox 2) seems to help with stains and whitening. Chlorine bleach is great for disinfecting and removing mold/mildew, but not so great for laundry since it damages fabrics and turns things yellow.

Greg

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Re: Improving Washing machine effectiveness
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2013, 09:08:55 AM »
The mildew smell is from water sitting in the machine.  If it's a front loader, leave the door open between loads.  If it's a top loader, you can do the same. Either way there'll be water left in the basin that you can't see that will cause this.

For fun, look at the drain hose and drain pipe.  If the place the hose enters the wall is too far from the floor, like more than 30", it might be hard for the washer to pump out enough water.  Also, if the hose is corrugated/ribbed, it may be building up crud inside.

For 2 y.o. clothes, try a borax prewash.  1/4C powdered borax in warm water in a 5 gallon plastic bucket.  Let soak an hour or two, agitate, drain, add to wash.

But it sounds like not a very good washer.

justchristine

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Re: Improving Washing machine effectiveness
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2013, 02:26:01 PM »
I've found that soaking my dirty clothes in  the washer with a cup of baking soda over night gets the clothes cleaner than anything else I've tried.  I don't have my own washer anymore so I just do my overnight pre-soak for certain blouses in a small rubbermaid wash tub and then throw in the washer with the rest of the wash the next day.

MC

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Re: Improving Washing machine effectiveness
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2013, 09:55:59 PM »
The mildew smell is from water sitting in the machine.  If it's a front loader, leave the door open between loads.  If it's a top loader, you can do the same. Either way there'll be water left in the basin that you can't see that will cause this.

For fun, look at the drain hose and drain pipe.  If the place the hose enters the wall is too far from the floor, like more than 30", it might be hard for the washer to pump out enough water.  Also, if the hose is corrugated/ribbed, it may be building up crud inside.

Okay, so two observations of the drain pipe. One, it is corrugated/flex tubing.  Two, the tubing curls up from the machine to then turn and go down through a drain in the wall. The drain hole is right between the two disconnects for hot and cold water that feed the machine.  Is this normal?  Any recommendations on how to improve the drainage?

Greg

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Re: Improving Washing machine effectiveness
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2013, 10:03:53 PM »
That sounds normal, but how far off the floor the drain opening is is important.  Also, the hose could be pretty crudded up.  Some washers have lint/debris strainers inside and if yours is clogged it could have poor performance.

Another Reader

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Re: Improving Washing machine effectiveness
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2013, 10:05:45 PM »
Low water use front loading machines are in my experience incapable of getting clothes clean.  Detergent is a surfactant whose purpose is to wet the fabric.  Enough water plus surfactant is what gets clothes clean.  That's why beating clothes with a rock in a stream actually works better than your front loading machine.

Try all the ideas suggested, and when you can't stand the dirty clothes any longer, buy a slightly used top loader from someone that was impressed by the front loader claims and bought one.

MC

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Re: Improving Washing machine effectiveness
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2013, 06:46:31 AM »
Just to clarify, the machine in question is a top loader...


Greg

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Re: Improving Washing machine effectiveness
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2013, 09:35:29 AM »
So a top loader (as well as a front loader) has an inner perforated tub that holds the clothes, and an outer drum that holds the water.  The outer drum could be cruddy and causing the smelly water.  Different things can cause a buildup; water hardness, detergent, water temp used, etc.  Pet hair clogs are common also.

But, it could be a poor machine design; not enough wash time/agitation, not enough cycles, that sort of thing.  Or, could be the detergent.  Some detergents work better than others depending on the kind of water you have (high minerals etc.) and the kind of soil you're trying to clean.  You might have to use some sort of stronger detergent (commercial grade detergent for a commercial grade machine?) to get the right performance.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Improving Washing machine effectiveness
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2013, 10:09:50 AM »
Do you know if you have hard water? We used to have really hard water and had to use twice as much detergent to get things clean.

Vilx-

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Re: Improving Washing machine effectiveness
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2013, 12:45:08 PM »
I don't know why vinegar is so popular for everything; it's not a very strong cleaning agent.
It's not a strong cleaning agent, but it's excellent for killing off mold. And, unlike dedicated fungicides, it's also biodegradable and quite nature-friendly. Cheap too. Mind you, it doesn't stop mold from regrowing - it just kills it off. To keep that from happening, you need a good ventilation. Indeed - I suggest keeping the washer doors (and the detergent drawer) open whenever not in use.

MrsPete

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Re: Improving Washing machine effectiveness
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2013, 07:53:54 PM »
My machine is not a Maytag, but it is a front-loader.  I bought mine new, so I had the benefit of having the owner's manual -- something you probably don't have since your machine came with your house. 

My machine has a "clean cycle", which is a hot-water and bleach cycle that's run without any clothes.  My manual says I'm supposed to run this cleaning cycle once a month.  I have done it for the 2-3 years I've owned the machine (I write it on my calendar), and I have never developed the problem you describe. 

kudy

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Re: Improving Washing machine effectiveness
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2013, 08:04:18 PM »
I like to dump a few glugs of concentrated simple green in my laundry, gets them a lot cleaner. Also helps if I let it soak a bit longer before it drains the first basin full.