Your washing machine could be making you sick

Front loading washers use a "boot” that seals the door to keep the water in as your washer works, but it may do its job a little too well.

Your washing machine can make you sick.

Even after several major front-loading washing machine manufacturers agreed to settle a number of class action lawsuits against them, if you have a front loader then mold and mildew are still your enemies.

That's the bad news.

The good news is, there is something you can do about it right now.

It begins with an odor in your clothes.

"It kind of smells like a turtle pond," says front-loading washer owner, Julie Kim.

Then, there are the spots.

“Black, brown spots on your clothes,” spots of mold, says appliance store owner and repairman, Daniel Medina.

"It's really annoying," agrees Kim.

Annoying, but all too common for owners of front loading washers.

At his Fresno appliance store, Medina says, he sees and hears about it a lot from customers.

“It does happen often, and I mean it's not cheap to repair either.”

In fact, Medina points out, it can cost up to $300, $400 or even $500 to fix, depending on the model of washer, and the reason why, he says, is because of its rubber gasket, also called, a “boot”.

“If you have a front loading washer new or old you have one of these. The boot.”

The boot seals the door to keep the water in as your washer works, but it may do its job a little too well.

As a result, says Medina, “there will always be water in that washer. it will never drain it all out.”

Much of that water remains in the boot creating the perfect nursery for mold to grow.

“First you'll see it in the front,” points out Medina. “That's when people start noticing it.”

“Once you pull it back, it’s much worse,” Medina shows, by opening up a discolored boot he pulled out of another front-loading washer.

“Like I said, it will spread out all the way through until there won't be any spot on the boot that does not have any mold.”

Once it starts, every spin of the drum helps to spread that mold through your clothes.

Mold spores can also spread very easily in your home and that, says

Dr. Baz of the Baz Allergy, Asthma and Sinus center, can lead to anything from hay fever sneezing, watery eyes, headaches, sinus infections and even asthma in sensitive individuals.

But, it doesn't have to be that way.

Medina says some simple ways you can prevent mold growth or buildup in your washer in the first place are to:

  • Keep the door open after washing so it has a chance to dry out.
  • Use concentrated bleach tablets or bleach to clean out the inside regularly.
  • Make sure you’re using the right kind of soap and not too much of it for your machine.

Last year manufacturers Sears, Maytag and LG settled several class-action lawsuits due to complaints of mold in more than six million front loading washing machines.

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