Like many other people, I purchased a high tech, high efficiency (HE), high cost laundry washer and dryer set. Also, like many people, after a few months, I discovered the odor problem. The treatments that are usually recommended by the manufacturers (vinegar, baking soda or chlorine bleach) did not work well in my situation.
I am a chemical engineer and I have a background in cleaning things. So, I started to investigate why a new, expensive washer had this kind of problem. I found that there seems to be an increase in odor when a lot of detergent and/or fabric softener is used. That makes sense. The thick material in the detergent / fabric softener was sticking to the walls of the plumbing. These are organic, soapy/oily materials. The film coating they deposit provides a base for the mold, mildew and bacteria. Beyond that, tiny bits of fibers of linen, wool, cotton, and flax are also embedded in the film. Also, any other things from “barnyard” materials to spaghetti sauce can contribute to the items that naturally decay and feed the things that cause the smell. The decay is also boosted by the damp conditions.
The decay causes the odors.
The film on the damp surfaces of the machine provides a giant "Petri Dish" to grow things! Odor can come from mold, mildew and other fungus, or bacterial slime growth depending on what is trapped in the film.
I have heard of a case where a machine was used for years without problems. Then, it was moved to a new house with heated flooring and the odor bloomed. The "Petri dish" was put into an incubator!
OK, .....Let’s think about this.
There will always be detergent and organic residue food for the nasties. (Details elsewhere on this site)
Also, ...... there will always be mold and mildew spores in the air. You can’t fight Mother Nature..
That means ...... the growth can not be kept out of the machine ...
So, ...... it must be controlled in some way.
There are two means of controlling the growth.
1. Periodically shock the machine to destroy the cells of the mold and bacteria slime organisms by using harsh chemicals and flush them out of the machine. These are the basic shock treatment methods explained elsewhere on the site. Since the growth will always come back, you need to time the period between shocks correctly.
2. Kill existing growth and then week-after-week control smells by contaminating the residue film to so it will be difficult if not impossible for the nasties to grow on it.
Method # 1 did not work for me at all.
I felt that I could come up with a laundry additive that would work with method #2 without damaging clothes, washers, plumbing or the environment.
The formula needed to be safe enough to be used regularly, but, effective enough to control the odor. I tried a number of materials and it has taken a while. But, I found a combination that worked well on my system. With my washing schedule I figured: If it works for me, it will work for anyone... so...
TechnoFresh® is the result!
Try TechnoFresh® ... it works.
I have an idea about why these machines have this problem:
The testing that the machines went through was designed to see how long the parts of the machine would last.
The standard accelerated testing methodology would have run the machine cleaning cycles hour-after-hour, day-in and day-out until something broke.
They probably did not use detergent or softener since they assumed it would not have any effect on the failure of parts. This is a valid assumption since the materials used in the machine were designed to withstand any normal chemical. Realistically the most aggressive chemical problem would be the effect of chlorine bleach on the seals. Detergent and softener are mild chemicals and would not have any effect.
They never considered that a real life wash schedule would have any other effects. They probably did not have any reason to add odor issues to the testing schedule since it never was a problem in the past.
The fact that the machine used detergent and softener so efficiently was intended but the secondary effect was not.
The detergent makers did not have any inclination to worry about this either.
They specified (by marks on the cup) an amount that was sure to clean the clothes.
The more you use, the more they sell.
They did not realize the effect of this since they only did accelerated wash tests similar to the kinds of tests the machines went through. Odor was not on the check list.
Old style machines used lots of water. Old style detergent was full of "builders" (powder) and "water" (liquid). Most of the active ingredients do not take up much space. So, there was a lot of fluff in the stuff. Everything ended up getting flushed down the drain and there were very few problems.
Super concentrated low sudsing versions changed this. When the detergent and softener now "wets-out" on the plumbing surfaces, apparently a significant amount of high concentration stuff stays on the surface even through the rinse cycles. After the rinse cycle, the machine is left with a wet, organic surface for stuff to grow on. (Nerds: This is a surface tension phenomena. The attraction of the thin film to the plumbing surface is greater than the ability of the rinse water to attract and lift it off. In addition, the rinse water goes through the fabric and out of the machine. The inside of the tub does not get much rinse water hitting it so stuff still sticks to it after the rinse cycle is over leaving the detergent film to feed the nasties.)
Real life use of the machines resulted in time for things to grow on it --- resulting in odor issues.
The “Law of Unintended Consequences” strikes again!
So, the closer you run your machine to the day-in and day-out cycle of the testing labs, the less problems you should have.
This is seen in the experience of the users of this type of washer.
That's my story and I'm stickin to it !!!