Dealing with the Hygiene Issues of New Washing Machines
Washing machines have entered the third generation. While the old ringer washers enabled our grandparents to escape the drudgery of the washboard, they were still extremely labor-intensive. In the middle of the 20th century, the second generation of washing machines was simpler to use but not economical when it came to electricity or water. Now, the third generation of new washing machine designs is much more efficient, yet they have created some new problems. Fortunately, there is a solution to the novel problems of the newest machines.
The Latest Washing Machine Designs
The grand old washing machines that were in common usage throughout the second half of the 20th century worked pretty well, so long as one ignored the massive amounts of water and electric utilities it took to use them. To make using washing machines more economical, beginning in 1999, the US Department of Energy decreed new standards for the amount of water and electricity washing machines could use. The amount of the two utilities were interconnected all along since about 85 to 90% of the electricity used to wash clothes comes from heating the water. To address these problems, washer manufacturers had to design machines that used less water and also used cooler water.
Today’s machines have achieved these two goals. Some modern washers have built-in sensors that examine the laundry loaded into them and thus sense exactly how much water to use. There is a variety of innovative front and top-loading designs that use baffles to dip clothes through washing water rather than continually immersing them, which significantly diminishes water usage.
The other big change has been the shift to cool or cold water. Detergent makers have focused on soap formulae that work well at colder temperatures. Traditionally, consumers have perceived that hot water cleans more thoroughly. Researchers studying the issue have determined that, apart from heavy stain removal, cold water does a credible job of cleaning, preserving the shape of clothes, and avoiding shrinkage. Using cold water is also much more environmentally friendly, not to mention it can save the average consumer more $200 a year in utility bills.
The New Problem with the New Washing Machines
As is so often the case, however, brand new technology results in new problems that must be addressed. As the new generations of washers began to come into wide use, reports began to surface of foul odors coming from certain machines accompanied by reports of dark slime, especially with front loaders. Some reports indicate that as many as 17% of front-loading machines and 3% of new top-loading machines develop mold. Manufacturers have continued to work on their designs in order to eliminate points in the washer where water could accumulate and develop mold. As far as knowing whether any mold is present, the telltale sign is a stale or foul odor, akin to dirty gym socks.
Then there is the problem of persistent pathogens. With previous generations of washing machines, any microbe that found its way into a washing machine was a goner. Between the high water temperature, the duration of agitation, the likelihood of chlorine bleach, and detergent, microbes were either effectively washed away or killed. As reported in a study published by the National Institute of Health (NIH), however, the new lower temperatures being used in today’s washing machines are good at cleaning clothes but not as effective at getting rid of the germs they may harbor. Indeed, other reports confirm that washing machines not only might not kill germs on clothing but our washers themselves may become vortexes for pathogens.
Then there are the dust mites. These microscopic creatures and the detritus they produce are not lethal, but they are troublemakers. They are among the most common allergens experienced within households. Researchers have found that mites cannot only survive regular trips through a washing machine but also spread from the original fabric they were on to other items in the washing machine.
How Do You Clean the Cleaner?
For most of us, it’s a total surprise to think the washing machine itself isn’t clean. If there is one point in the home that we associate with total cleanliness, it’s the washing machine. We place our dirtiest items of clothing inside and assume, after the washing cycle is completed, they come out clean as a whistle and totally sanitized. The washing machine manufacturers, however, seem to have had the understanding all along that their machines themselves would need to be cleaned periodically. Else, why would the preponderance of new machines have a cycle specially called “Clean Washer”?
So, by what means can we clean the machines that are supposed to clean our clothes, making certain to remove mold, pathogens, and dust mites, as well as the grime and residue that sometimes accumulate in the hidden corners of our washers? There are a couple of methods most frequently attempted that show mixed results.
The first method is simply to run the cleaning cycle of the machine, using the hottest water setting available. The problem with this is that the typical new washing machine at its hottest setting generally gets up to about 130º. In order to be an effective germ killer, water needs to be about 140º. Remember also that the modern washer is designed to water-economical, which implies that the inner surfaces of the machine will have less exposure to water at its hottest.
A second method sometimes used is cleaning the interior of the machine, especially when mold is present, with chlorine bleach, either by hand-wiping the inner tub, baffles, and screens or by adding bleach to the self-cleaning cycle. Hand-wiping with bleach is probably not the safest or most effective way to clean the inner parts of the machine. If you’ve ever tried to clean the mold from a small dish with many facets, you realize it’s virtually impossible to get to every crevice and crease that might conceal microbes and fungus. Running bleach through the cleaning cycle often produces mixed results. The true test is to wait until the bleach smell has gone and determine whether or not the stale mold smell remains.
The Top Solution: The Best Washing Machine Cleaning Tablets
I cannot recommend strongly enough the OdorCrush Limescale Prevention Tablets. This product is designed specifically for use in top-loading or front-loading washers. It is simple to use and has a proprietary formula that is environmentally friendly and deadly effective against pathogens and mold. Because it is intended to cleanse the entire inner surface of the washing machine, it eliminates not only residue and grime but also any microscopic particles that might have remained in the machine after previous cycles.
Far and away the best product for cleaning washing machines on the market, OdorCrush cleansing tablets are simple to use. When the machine is empty of clothing, insert one tablet—or two if there is the presence of an odor. Run a normal cycle using hot water. When the cycle is complete, towel dry the interior surface of the washing machine. Repeat this cleaning regime once a month with OdorCrush Washing Machine Cleansing Tablets, and you will have conquered the new problems created by the new generation of economical, cold water washing machines.