What’s In Your Washing Machine & How Is It Impacting Your Health?

This week I had the good fortune of my washing machine breaking.  I know.  It sounds a little weird, but hear me out.

For the last couple of months, I’ve been finding a clear grease-looking stain on clothes coming out of my washing machine.  It didn’t happen in every load of wash and it didn’t happen to one specific type of material.  It appeared to be totally random.  I tried every stain removing product under the sun, and none of them worked.  What is a girl to do?

After conducting a little online research, I decided I needed to call in the big guns.  Enter the Maytag repair man.  It took him a week to get here, but it was worth the wait.  We’ll call him George.

With in 10 minutes of George taking my washing machine a part, he called me in to show me what was in the “guts” of my washer.  It wasn’t pretty.  It was less than pretty.  Let’s just say it was a good thing I hadn’t eaten any breakfast yet.

Although I’m a “clean” person and regularly clean out the removable parts of my washer where the detergent and fabric softener can build up, what George showed me looked anything but.  He removed the part of the agitator you need tools and a little know-how to do, and there were CHUNKS of fabric/softener/mold build up.  (George said it was the foreign substance was probably an even combination of the three.)  When I say chunks, I’m talking the size of a chapstick tube.  So gross.  What’s worse is the outer rim of the washing basin (which you can only see by removing the front of your washer) was coated in the same icky black substance.  I’ll spare you the rest of the gory details, but I’m sure you get the gist.

To properly clean the washer from top to bottom would take around $600 because it would have to be completely disassembled to get all the mystery black substance out.  Further inspection of my washer revealed a worn away part on the base that would cost another $500 or so to repair.  I could buy a new washer and new clothes for that price!

I’m feeling so blessed George made it out to the house.  Yes it will cost me a new washer that we really can’t afford, but the health benefits completely outweigh the rest!  My son has asthma and food allergies so you can imagine my horror to find all of this goop lurking in what I thought was my clean washing machine.  There are just no words.

So you don’t see in your washing machine, what I saw in mine…I want to share a few tips that George the repair man was kind enough to share with me.


When not in use, leave the door to your washing machine open.  It will inhibit the growth of mold and mildew.

Use a product such as Affresh in an empty load in your washing machine once a month.  (George the repairman said he resented the fact that you should have to buy something to clean a washing machine that’s job is cleaning.  Ironic.  Still, he said using it can add to the mold and mildew-free life of your washer.)

Use about 1/3 of the recommended detergent and softener you usually do.  It keeps it from building up in your washer and it still keeps your clothes clean.

Do NOT cram your washer full of clothes.  It shouldn’t even be remotely close to an oversize load, even if it is supposedly made to handle it.  Overloading your washer can be hard on the basin, the brakes, and a number of other parts that will cause build up in your washer if they break.

Always read the directions for your washing machine and really take them to heart.  There are often tips for extending the life of your washer and keeping it clean.


Hundreds of complaints have been logged against these machines (of any brand) for mold and mildew build up.  I even checked with a few friends and they too confirmed that mold was a problem regardless of the brand.  In addition, it is common for these machines to need a repair with in the first two years of usage.  Only, these repairs often start at the base price of $300 and go up from there.  At that rate, it would cost half of what a new washing machine would.

Another good idea is to buy a warranty.  But…do not spend the money on the warranty unless it covers these three things:  the boards, electronics, and bearing assembly.


Obviously, from listening to my personal story above, you now know that the top loading washing machines are not without issue either.  George’s tips for a top loading machine are the same as the general tips listed above.

So what kind of washer is the best to buy?  George, the Maytag repair man, said even though it sounded biased he would stick with Whirlpool or Maytag.  However, he said, hands down, your best weapon is online research.  George said the salesman in any store will tell you only the good and not the bad.  So before you buy a washer, research with consumer sites, talk with friends, and use those social networking sites.  Your final washing machine purchase will be smarter for it!


7 thoughts on “What’s In Your Washing Machine & How Is It Impacting Your Health?

  1. April Lytle Duncan thanks for posting this, after reading I thought I would share my similiar story but with the dishawsher. The top rack just seemed to never come out clean ,then finaly the bottom as well so call to the “sears man”, when he cleaned the dishwasher and removed the back tube that goes up to the top rack it was disgusting build up of food ,mold,caked on detergent,I won’t go on. He advised me the same to use affresh. I know know why my 2 “healthy” daughters had become so sick in the past year and even had allergies become more serious. I guess in the end we all need to remember to “wash” the machines that are meant to clean for us. I hope this helps others as well.
    Yesterday at 6:48am · Like

  2. Was your washing machine one of the old ones with the agitator post or the newer ones without the post? Just curious.

  3. It was the old version with the agitator post. The new one we chose is a top-load with no agitator post. I’ll keep you updated on what we think of the new one…but so far, so good.

  4. hi! wondering what you ended up buying and how you are liking it. we are PUMPED to be getting a new one this week…and will be putting our horrible front loader on the curb.

  5. We ended up getting a Whirlpool Cabrio Platinum. It’s a top loader, and so far…I love it. I also recommend the allfresh tablets as a way of keeping your washer clean. Good luck with your purchase…let me know how it turns out.

  6. This is sad. My son has been very ill with asthma, it does not improve even with all the medication his taking. Doctors asked if there was mold in my house, -not at all- I said. Little I knew, my washer machine could be the problem. I am so concern.

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