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Why do my clothes have a sour smell after coming out of my Kenmore Elite HE3 washer?

I have a Kenmore Elite HE3 washer model number 110.44826300. The clothes have a sour smell like mold.

Kenmore , Washers
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1 Answer from this member:
Lyle W
Some front load washers tend to build up mold in certain situations. Mold can be eliminated and prevented by following these suggestions:

Keeping the door slightly open between cycles is an essential step to preventing this problem. You should continue this habit.

You should also frequently check for small items (such as socks) that can sometimes get caught in the door seal. Be sure to pull back the seal and carefully inspect all areas. If a small item goes undetected, it will sour and cause mold.

Always use High Efficiency (HE) soap. Failure to use this type of detergent will promote mold buildup. Using too much detergent in your cycle will also cause problems.

A new product called


is now available to clean front load washers. Periodic use of this product will help keep your washer fresh and clean smelling.

To clean mold that is already present on the door seal of a front load washer, follow these steps:

Open the washer door and remove any clothing or items from the washer.

Mix a dilute solution of liquid chlorine bleach using 3/4 cup of bleach in one gallon of warm tap water.

Wipe the entire seal area with this dilute bleach solution.

Let it stand for 5 minutes.

Wipe down the area thoroughly with water only.

Open the door wide and let the seal air dry.

Please note:

a. Do not use bleach at full strength for cleaning these surfaces. Higher concentrations of bleach can damage the door seal over time.

b. The use of rubber gloves is recommended when cleaning for prolonged periods.

You should repeat this procedure on a monthly basis, if necessary.

You mentioned that you were running loads of straight bleach through the washer. Follow your owner's manual instructions when conducting this type of cleaning. Improper use of bleach can damage your washer. Here are some other precautions related to this procedure:

Use of more than 1 Cup of bleach will cause product damage to most washers over time.

Addition of bleach without immediately starting the cycle will also cause damage over time.

If it is necessary to interrupt this cleaning cycle, a "Rinse and Spin" cycle must be run to thoroughly rinse the remaining bleach from the unit. Failure to do so will cause damage to the unit and clothing added to the next cycle.

Some owner's manuals do not give you a procedure for running a cleaning cycle using bleach. Here is a procedure recommended for Kenmore front load washers:

Open the washer door and remove any clothing or items from the washer.

Be sure that the door is closed fully and do not add clothes to this cycle.

Open the dispenser drawer. If the detergent divider is in the liquid detergent position, remove the detergent divider (see use and care guide for instruction). No additives will be added at this time. You will be required to add bleach at a later step. Close the dispenser drawer.

Select the "Normal" wash cycle.

Select the hottest water temperature available.

Select the highest spin speed available.

Select the 2nd rinse option if it is available.

Start the cycle by pressing and holding the "Start" key. The door will lock and filling will begin. The water will dispense for a moment, then the door will unlock and relock and the cycle will continue.

Once the fill begins again, open the dispenser drawer and immediately add 1 Cup of liquid chlorine bleach to

the main wash detergent compartment

. The bleach should immediately flow out of the dispenser.

Once this cleaning cycle has begun, allow the cycle to completely run. Don't forget to replace the detergent divider if necessary. Leave the door slightly open after the cycle.

Repeat this cleaning cycle monthly if necessary.

These tips and procedures should eliminate and prevent mold and mildew in your front load washer. If not, you may have an installation problem or other failure that is causing your mold issues. Call a service technician if you continue to experience mold and mildew problems.
by Lyle W Earned 136,245 community points in Kenmore
August 13th, 2008
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