Here’s a recent national column I wrote – thought it was timely as we’re all considering spring cleaning!

High Efficiency Washer Tips from Dr. Laundry
Bleach is “mouthwash” for your dryer

I recently came across a great Business of Motherhood tip for fellow moms with the new high efficiency (HE) washers. We were in the market for a new washer/dryer anyway, so as I started shopping, I was drawn like a magnet to the front loader. It looks like a throwback to the 1950s, comes in all kind of funky colors, and has the latest technology. Plus, I thought “laundry watching” through the huge glass window might become sport in my house. (Alas, it never did…)

Also, the model came with lots of parenting perks. Kids equal laundry! Newborns seem to run through 6 outfits a day – burp, change, burp, change. When they’re young, wet beds mean you’re washing bulky comforters. As they grow up and have sleepovers, there are lots of sheets to wash. Enter spills, sports, and more, you’re just constantly doing laundry. I thought a larger capacity washer would reduce my time in the laundry room – larger loads, fewer loads, right? Plus, high efficiency washers use less water and less detergent; they’re more efficient; and isn’t that friendly in this economic environment?

But…enter a problem…the darling started to smell, really bad, like sour eggs or worse. Your kids’ odors don’t usually bother you – bad breath or stinky post-sports sweat, but your washer may not be held in such high regard when its smell goes south. I had ours serviced, and the technician recommended using bleach monthly to run through the washer with extra hot water, and that worked marvelously. I keep a post-it note near the washer and write the date every time I bleach, and our clothes definitely smell better.

I recent came across some tips from Clorox, bleach king of the universe, and thought they were fabulous guidelines for HE washer owners. Apparently, and this was fun news to me, Clorox has their own “Dr. Laundry.” And read on, because this doctor is about to make a house call – rather, laundry room call – via tips for you!

Harold Baker, Associate Research Fellow at the Clorox Company, aka “Dr. Laundry,” explained the reason for the foul odor, “After a few wash cycles, water that has not completely drained out of the machine can be left behind, creating a breeding ground for bad odors.”

Bleach, he says, is “like mouthwash for your HE washer.” Baker recommends running a load weekly with bleach to eliminate the bad odors. Dr. Laundry offered some additional tips:

Don’t over-pack the washer. Too much laundry means the detergent can’t get to all the stains/soils to remove them.

Always wash whites in HOT water. The hotter the water the better the dirt and odor removal.

Better cleaning happens in soft water, so if you have hard water, you might consider moving to a powdered detergent. This type of detergent contains ingredients called builders that make the water softer.

When cleaning a heavy soil load add a little extra detergent to make sure you’re in a good cleaning environment. It also helps prevent re-deposition of removed soil back onto the “cleaned” clothes.

Note: I recommend that you also check with the store or brand of your model for tips specific to running bleach through by itself.  Happy…and clean washing!