Front Load Washer Tips:

–Noisy during spin? Won’t drain? It could be something in the drain pump. In which case the sound would begin just before machine goes into spin, as water drains -or sometimes won’t drain away in which case it sits and hums (quietly) if the pump is totally blocked.

Screeching during spin? Screeching could be the infamous rear bearing wearing out. Hear what one sounds like… A front load washer with a worn out bearing. (video link) Using too much detergent (or non-HE detergent) can wash away the lubrication in the bearing that rotates with the spin basket. Or it can wear out with time -which seems to come much, much sooner on front loaders than on good old top loaders.

Banging during spin? It could be an unbalanced load, broken shock absorbers or a cracked spin basket mounting bracket. (in case it only needs balanced loading see below).  For these issues there is a test how-to video on Cambie’s Facebook page. (video link) A simple hand test that could save you time and money. Watch the video and try this if your machine bangs a lot in spin.

–Before arranging a service call make sure you are sorting items well and try a test load of three bath towels of equal size and weight to see if the machine is fine when loaded properly.

Weight: Balance, balance, balance. Separate/sort/load by weight (when wet, so keep absorbency in mind. Imagine the clothes soaking wet). A heavy cotton towel holds more water than a thin sheet or polyester shirt. Having one heavy item mixed in with a lot of light ones will create an imbalance breaking the machine, making it bang or walk across the floor. This is especially true with front loaders as they spin at very high speeds.

Never overload, especially with heavy items (most full size machines max out at 3-4 large bath towels. Never under-load either. In order to be balanced there must be enough material to cover the spin basket all the way around. For example if only one sheet cold be fine because its so large, but one bath towel it can end up lumped on one side and make the machine vibrate and/or bang). If the washer is too full, there’s more rubbing/abrasion on the clothes, which dulls the fabric/colors. So, don’t overload.

Where does the lint from your washer go? Clothing damage can be seen in the amount of lint in your dryer. Also if your washer doesn’t have a lint filter that you manually clean, the lint goes down the drain. This is usually safe for both city sewers and septic systems. Remember some fabric wear occurs when we are wearing the clothes.

Avoid washing odd sized non-clothing items. A number of people break the machine with a bath mat or large blanket etc. If in doubt, take it out (to a Laundromat).

Check your pockets. Use laundry bags. Especially for bras with underwires and anything else that has little metal/plastic pieces that may come loose in there. Otherwise things get loose and clog up the pump or other parts.

Detergent: HE detergent. Make sure any detergent/addittive used is HE compliant. This means baby washing and delicate detergents. How much detergent for each load? Use as little of it as you can get away with! This depends on the hardness of your water and the soil in your clothing. If you draw Vancouver city water (some of the softest in the world) you will only need 1/4 of what the package states. For most front loaders usually 1tsp-1tbsp and not much more. The amount needed depends on how soiled the laundry is. If it’s more than just body oils then you might need more. If suds bubble over the front loader’s glass window or all the way out the door onto the floor, or worse, remain at the end of the cycle, you are using way too much detergent. There is such a thing as too much. This can damage the machine by washing out the bearings. Bubbles/residue left at the end of the cycle can leave you wearing the patch. Not a nicotine or birth control patch, but a detergent patch (head to toe). That can’t be good for your body. If you, or anyone in your house has a rash or sensitive skin reduce the amount of detergent used and/or use “extra rinse” feature. Wait up to a month for results. Switch brands if necessary. Look for a small dollop of bubbles in the window (~1-3 inches in size) this means you’ve used only a little too much.

–Too much detergent.  (a video link) In Vancouver we need so little detergent. Please make sure you put 1/4 of the amount they suggest (for smaller machines use 1/8 the amount). If we follow the label or use pre-portioned detergent packets (like Tide “pods”) we can end up with something like the one in this video.

–Never put detergent into the wrong compartment on the machine.

–Whatever you put in the fabric softener compartment (never used for anything but lavender oil at my house) will be added during the rinse cycle and will remain in the clothes until they are washed again. The whole purpose of rinsing the clothes is to ensure you don’t walk around with detergents absorbing into your skin (head to toe!).

When done using the machine leave the door open. In many cases, water puddles in the bottom of the door seal. If yours does then you dry it out with a sponge or towel. In my place there is a closet door so I leave the towel draped over the door to keep it open enough to breathe, but closed enough to close the closet door. Using lavender or vinegar helps too…

Vinegar: Not just for pickles. Give your laundry a boost by adding ¼- ½ cup of vinegar to the wash cycle. Put it in where the fabric softener usually goes. This way it is added in the final rinse. Vinegar equalizes the pH of your laundry detergent, resulting in cleaner, softer clothes. Vinegar is used by the people who make your clothes (such as Chloe Angus)

–Lavender Oil: Killing the spores. Some people use 5-6 drops of lavender oil to keep help prevent mould and mildew in the machine and to have the clothes come out smelling clean and fresh. Check with your manufacturer to see if this is acceptable for your machine. There are reports that it may be harmful to plastic plumbing.

–Fabric softeners OK to use? Not really needed in Vancouver…Instead use dryer balls when you place the clothes in the dryer. Also be aware that fabric softeners may not be recommended for some materials. Many high performance fabrics, including microfibers, allow the fabric to breathe and transport moisture away from the skin to the outer surface of the fabric, where it can evaporate. This keeps the wearer dry and comfortable. The “fatty” material in a fabric softener attaches directly to the fabric and makes the fabric feel softer. However, fabric softeners can build up over time, and can reduce the ability of the fabric to manage moisture and breathe. Frequent use of fabric softeners can also reduce the absorbency of cotton towels. Best to try using dryer balls instead (see dryer tips).

–Check the rubber hoses on the back of your washing machine. Are they ten years or older? If so, replace them. If you do not they could burst and cause a flood that goes on and on until someone notices and turns the tap off. The best hoses to get are braided stainless steel hoses. Many come with a warranty to never burst for the life of your appliance. Look for a high “PSI” (Pounds Per Square Inch) rating. You can find one with a 2500 PSI burst strength. This is well above the household pressure, which ranges from 30-70 PSI.

For optimal cleaning results, water temperature must be above 15C (60F). Otherwise the ingredients in most laundry detergent will not activate. In other words, if your water is too cold, your detergent won’t work. Wash your hands under the water; if the water is too cold for your hands, it is likely too cold for your washer. A problem I have been seeing in increasing numbers is flooding caused by cold water washing (even those using cold water detergent). The fill mechanism has a small hole, which gets clogged up with soap scum/residue that’s not washed away in the cold water. Make sure your detergent is for cold-water use and make sure you use hot once a week (minimum) to clean out the detergent residue. Also see comments on detergent residue in clothes and it’s effect on your skin and your health.

Manufacturers recommend the following water temperatures:
* Hot water for most white & heavily soiled laundry 49-60C (120-140F)
* Warm water for most other types of fabric 26-40C (80-105F)
* Cold water for bright & lightly soiled laundry 18-24C (65-75F)

Always read your care labels. Cotton clothing, as well as some blends, react better to certain temperatures or drying times. You can greatly reduce fabric damage that leads to wrinkling through correct care. Regarding the temperature, follow the care instructions on the garment label. WASHING | DRYING SYMBOLS EXPLAINED

The water in your washer’s warm cycle isn’t very warm? The warm water for your washer is simply a mixture of the hot and cold water available from your home. If the hot water entering the machine isn’t very hot, the warm is actually cool. Also, in northern climates, during winter months, the cold water entering the unit may be significantly colder than in the summer, which causes the warm water to be cooler. The water gets cold sitting in the pipes/plumbing. To get a good warm/hot wash in this case you could run the machine to fill first (until water hot enough) then set it to spin or drain to drain out the cold water. Then start filling again. This would be for heavily soiled items. Remember we need thermal energy along with chemical energy (detergent) and mechanical energy (washing action of machine). In some cases, the water inlet valve may be restricted, or there may be sediment on the screen, that blocks the input of the hot water.

Enzyme Cleaners? Enzymes are found in living matter. The types used in laundry products have the ability to breakdown protein type stains, such as vegetable proteins, dairy products and blood. For working on starch enzymes containing amylase are used, protease (used for protein), and lipase (for fats). Usually used to pre-soak or pre-treat. Be sure to check detergent and additive ingredients, because some do contain enzymes.


–Mold? See my lavender tips above and I suggest Sean Moss MOLD INSPECTOR if you suspect any mold in other areas of your home.