27
Apr
How a front loading washing machine was making her kids sick!

Does my front load washing machine have mold?

There are inherent design flaws in the front load washer that are simply put, impossible to mitigate.  The internal gasket that is used in all front load washers will grow mold over time.  While there are precautions you can take to minimize this issue it will inevitably happen, at least to some degree, in all front load washing machines.

 

It is a fact that if you have a front load washing machine, it is causing mold to be on your clothes!

Recently I visited a small home in the San Fernando Valley of a family whose children had been diagnosed with chronic sinus issues, onset of asthma, rashes, & sinusitis as well as other respiratory issues.  Our client had taken her kids, two boys ages about 5 and 8, to several doctors and specialists.  The kids had been for now a couple of years on several different medications; some of them very strong with serious side effects.  The kids were otherwise in good health, other than the respiratory issues.  The doctors were at a loss as to what to do as were the parents.  One of the doctors suggested that potentially there were environmental issues in the home that maybe impacting the kids health.  The mother of the boys was literally crying when I visited their home. AS it turns out it was the front loading washing machine was making her kids sick.

When I arrived and inspected the home, it was almost immaculately clean!  There was no dust anywhere, and everything was clean, especially with two active young boys and their friends running around all the time.  Having raised two kids myself I was impressed at how clean her house was.

The Mold inspection:

The inspection:  I looked around her home for signs of water intrusion, both past and current.  Evaluated the surfaces for moisture, water damage and mold.  As in most homes, there is always some mold.  Some old water damage, a past leaking hot water heater.  A small toilet overflow in the bathroom that was repaired.  A water heater that had failed at one point, there was a small roof leak in a corner of the garage, as well as other minor issues that I could identify.  Each one of these may have to some degree have contributed to mold exposure, but nothing significant enough in my opinion to be causing enough of an exposure issue such that her kids would logically have been presenting with the severe reactions that they were.  Again most every house has some sort of mold in it.

Does my front load washing machine have mold?

There was definitely something wrong.  The kids were legitimately sick and not getting better.  Further they had tried several medications; some with dramatic side effects.  So this was a curious problem.  Turns out it was the washing machine!

This is what the inside of the front load washer ring gasket looked like when examined.  Note that the molds present were considered both pathogenic and potentially toxic.  There is no way to stop this type of growth in a front loading washing machine, although you can mitigate it to some degree
Another view of the interior of the washing machines front gasket.  The mold growth is the result of lint and other materials remaining on the inside of the ring and the constant state of moisture and humidity.  The substrate (rubber) demonstrates highly concentrated colonies of mold growth present.
Under the microscope this is what some of the mold present looks like.  The washing machine was definitely what was making the kids sick!

 

The washing machine was what was making the kids sick!

Within minutes of us identifying the issue in the washing machine the mother of the two kids took action.  She called her husband who had one of his employees at the home within 5 minutes of the call; while we were still on the premises.  The employee literally removed the washing machine from the premises while we were there speaking to the woman and wrapping up our investigation in the home.

Pro-log:

We touched base with the home owner a month or so later and the kids were doing great!  Within about 45 days or so their symptoms were almost all gone and better still the kids were off all of the harmful medications they were taking.  After about 3 months the kids had no symptoms whatsoever and were back to running around the home like crazy, only now without stuffy noses and rashes all over their bodies!  While there was mold in several locations in the home, it was not significant enough to have the impact that the children were experiencing.  We have seen several cases similar to this all with more or less the same outcomes.  Front load washing machines should not be used in a residential environment.

there are things you can do to clean your front load washer and to minimize this type of growth, however fundamentally, there is a design condition that will always result in this type of issue being present. Things you can do to minimize this issue are:

  1. Always leave  your front load washer door ajar when not in use.
  2. After each use, make sure you take a “clorox type” wipe (or other facsimile such as Kirkland brand household surface wipes) and completely wipe the entire inside of the ring including the lower interior portions of the ring.  Be sure to peel back the ring as shown above and wipe on the INSIDE of that ring.
  3. DO NOT USE BLEACH TO CLEAN THIS.  if you do not wish to use disposable wipes, then you can use a paper towel and regular household cleaner.
  4. after you have cleaned the inside of the ring, then wipe this down again with a dry cloth and try to get all of the moisture out of the ring.
  5. then leave the door ajar and try to dry down the ring gasket as fast as possible.

There is a product called Concrobium which “claims” to prevent mold growth, but I personally don’t believe it. Further, as it is inside of the washer it would logically wash away over time.  you can try replacing the front door gasket but this is expensive; it cost me over $200 on my own washer before I gave up and got rid of it after I tested the new gasket and even after taking the above precautions, there was the beginnings of mold growth.  So I tossed it out.  Sorry front load washer fans.

Ongoing litigation-

There are current class action suits being brought against ever major manufacturer of these types of washing machines, but early signs are that the class certifications have been denied.  I would not count on these suits going anywhere.  That said, this is a real issue and it could be causing health concerns for your family the way it did for this one.

 

Hope this article helps you.

0 No comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *