Warning: Don't buy front loader washing machines. Many of the designs promote mold growth. I took mine apart tonight and found mold. My washer has a couple of major flaws that encourage microbial growth. First there are 2 rubber reservoir boots low in the model that do not purge all of the water. Second the pipe that recirculates the water used in the tub is corrugated, thus trapping debris. So the design of the system builds up debris in a moist environment. Only constant biocides will have any chance at killing amplified growth in a moist, dark, warm, nutrient dense environment that exists inside this washing machine.
By the way it is a Bosch that I purchased from a major retailer in 2005. I went back to the store and told them I found mold in my washing machine and the rep on the floor said back to me. "Yep, front loaders have always grown mold and they always will. We've known about the problems for 60 years and it still hasn't been changed."
The industry standard line is that the mold issues are maintenance problems and that the consumer is causing the problem because: 1)Using too much detergent/softener. My model said to use a max of 1 tablespoon per load. 2)The door was kept closed and it didn't dry out. 3)The gasket wasn't wiped down after each use. 4)The periodic use of biocide application wasn't applied to the machine. They recommend at least once per month.
Mold test results came back today confirming that the Bosch NEXXT Front Load Washing machine was a primary source of contamination in my house. The test results of both pre and post removal of the washing show a significant reduction in mold contamination in the building.
I've learned a few more things about the problem. It seems to be an issue with any HE machine that recirculates the water from the main tub. My old unit only used about 5 gallons of water total to wash and rinse. This is compared to an old style top loader that could use up to 30 gallons total. It seems that many other HE machines use around 15 gallons total. The best question to answer if you suspect your model has the issue is the following: Do your towels smell after only using them one time?
Pictures of the impacted tube:
Moldy Washing Machine - a set on Flickr
Others complaining of the same issues:
Hopefully you'll never personally experience chronic health issues and/or have your family chronically affected. The years of pain, financial loss, and hopelessness can be a real bad trip. Believe me that you will be telling everyone and their uncle if you find and fix the issues. Humans have a very strong affinity for trying to help others. So that is my motivation. To help my friends at the DP who have been affected by a lack of indoor air quality from biotoxins in water damaged buildings. The following is a quick list of the top items that will help you determine and fix indoor air quality health issues.
1)Determine if your building is suffering from water damage micro organisms by taking an ERMI test from www.mycometrics.com. It costs about $300. The building will need to be less than a -1 for severely impacted individuals and less than a 2 for moderately impacted individuals. The scale goes from -10 to 20.
2)Determine if you have the energy to remediate. Otherwise, move and leave almost all of your possessions behind. Expect to take the likely loss on the mold damaged property if you don’t have the resources and/or energy to cleanup. To stay and cleanup you'll need to find the water source(s) that is(are) feeding the micro organisms by hiring a qualified Industrial Hygienist, hiring a mold sniffing dog, using a non destructive moisture meter, using a thermo infrared camera, and/or studying the pathways water takes into a structure. Document the situation prior, during, and post to remediation.
3)Stop the water. All other attempts to clean and kill the mold will be futile. This is key.
a. There are 5 main ways moisture enters and damages buildings. The first is from ground water intrusion. Dig French drains and/or excavate out the foundation and water proof. The second is a system failure from a leaky pipe or plumbing issue. The third is from an envelope failure in the shell of the building. This happens especially at roof flashing points, windows, and other breaks/changes in the envelope. The forth is from insects nesting inside wall cavities. The fifth is the biggest and it’s the one that gets most people. It is from relative humidity condensation on cooler surfaces. Basements are very prone to this. Mold can grow at 60% RH and will surely be growing at anything above 70% RH. Get a copy of the book “My house is killing me.” By Jeff May.
b.An industrial hygienist is going to cost around 1-2 thousand dollars if he has to fall back on air samples to locate the sources. They’ll cost a few hundred dollars if they can find it with other tools. The mold sniffing dog will cost several hundred dollars, but it may very well be the easiest tool to help your discovery.
4)Containment procedures must be taken prior to remediation. You will be dealing with toxic waste that will cross contaminate the builing if not taken care of properly. Consider air pathways, pressure differentials, and where the negative pressure containment tents will be placed. Keep dust to a minimum. Double bag all debris that leaves via the clean areas if it can’t be directly ejected to an outside bin. Clean your suit, respiration masks(quality air masks; not the cheap ones on a rubber band), and tools when leaving the area.
5)Remediate the damaged materials. Physical removal of contamination is the preferred method. Encapsulation, fungicides, and inhibiters rarely work for active issues. They almost always only work after the active moisture issues are solved and the bulk of toxic waste has been removed. Seal all cracks from dead air spaces, around windows, trim, and openings in walls. Balance the air pressures created from HVAC between rooms.
6)Decontaminate the rest of the building. Get a HEPA quality vacuum. Get plenty of sponges and mops for damp wiping. Have clean buckets and rinse buckets for the sponges. Determine if contents should be cleaned, disposed, or preserved. Porous items are difficult to clean and should be disposed if directly contaminated. Non porous items can almost always be cleaned or restored. HEPA vacuum, laundry, and/or damp wipe every square inch of the contents and interior of the building. Biotoxins will count into the trillions inside water damaged building and they bind into the dust. Every single last dust fragment must be removed. Visit step 2 if this is too daunting of a task. Remember that the HVAC system has also been compromised and must be cleaned. Do not use biocides in the HVAC system.
7)Post remediation analysis. White glove and smell tests are very useful. Take an ERMI to verify success.
8)Now for the hard part if your health does not return. Purchase the book “Surviving Mold” by Ritchie Shoemaker. Go to page 707 and follow his instructions. 1 out of 4 humans has the genetic potential to become severely damaged from biotoxins. People who have CFS, IBS, FM, RLS, depression, and other multi symptom multi system diseases are prime candidates to investigate this issue.
a.List your issues. Take the blood tests recommended for a baseline.
b.Use the ERMI.
c.Get away from exposure.
d.Take cholestyramine to remove biotoxins.
e.Get the nasal culture and remove MARCONS if present.
f.Schedule an appointment with Shoemaker from this point on if you are still suffering. There are several more steps.
9)Welcome back to life.