Is This Household Appliance Making You Sick?
(AscendHealthy.com) – Washing clothes is designed to get them clean and help keep you healthy. You cut back on dirt and grime, along with bacteria and viruses that can live on fabric. But is your washing machine actually making you sick instead?
Front-Loading Washers May Hold Water Between Loads
Anyone who has a front-loading washing machine has a machine with a rubber gasket around the door. Called a “boot,” this gasket is designed to make sure that the door seals tightly when the machine is in use.
After a load of laundry is complete and most of the water drains from the machine, water remains behind in the drum and the boot. The sealed nature of the boot around the door opening may not allow for proper drying.
Standing Water Can Cause Mold to Grow
The water that’s left standing in the folds of the boot can stagnate, which may lead to the growth of mold and mildew, according to Consumer Reports. As water sits in one spot, it isn’t properly oxygenated because it’s not moving or getting good airflow across it. The longer that water sits, the higher the risk of mold and mildew developing and potentially harming your health.
This is a problem because mold spores may find their way onto clothing every time the washer’s drum spins. The water left in the boot from the last load may become moldy and then be spun out of the boot into the next wash cycle’s clean water. Mold and mildew could also grow on the boot itself, adding to the issue.
Why Is Mold a Problem, Anyway?
Mold and mildew are problems because they can make people very sick. Especially for people who are allergic, mold may cause watery eyes, headaches, hay fever symptoms, sneezing, and sinus infections. It even has the opportunity to trigger asthma and other breathing problems for some people, and it can be difficult for pets, too.
What to Look for in Your Washing Machine
You need to look for a few things to check a washing machine for mold or mildew issues. First, check for standing water in the boot. Logically, the boot will be wet right after the washer is done, but it should dry out in a few hours. Water in the folds or creases of the boot that doesn’t evaporate may be a hotspot for mold.
Also, consider the smell of the washing machine and clean clothing. If the washer smells “sour” or like a stagnant pond or swamp, there may be water standing in the boot and growing mold or mildew. The washer should smell fresh, or at least clean and neutral, and the same is true of any clothing that’s just been washed.
Finally, look for spots. Brown and black spots can be indications of mold or mildew. These spots could be on the boot, inside the boot’s folds, and on the clothing itself. If there are spots and a sour smell, mold or mildew is likely gaining a foothold in that particular front-loading washer.
How to Keep a Front-Loading Washer Clean
Fortunately, mold and mildew in a front-loading washer is a treatable problem. After washing clothes, leave the washer door open for a few hours to help the boot and other areas dry out properly. Also, bleach the washer regularly. That can be done with regular liquid bleach in the washer’s bleach reservoir or a concentrated bleach tablet.
The right kind of soap — and the right amount — may also help reduce the chances of growing mold or mildew inside a washer. Too much soap is just as bad as too little, and the right balance is what matters most to keep clothing clean and make sure the washer is as resistant to mold as possible.
Front-loading washers are very popular, and with a little bit of effort, they may be a great option for many years. Just make sure they’re treated differently than top-loading washers because of the boot and its ability to hold standing water. By letting the washer dry between loads and performing frequent “sniff tests” on the washer and clothing, it’s usually possible to catch any mold or mildew issue before it becomes a problem.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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