A few years back, MWT and I switched to a front load washing machine and vowed we'd never go back to a top loader ever again. Until about 6 months ago when it started to stink. And I don't mean stink....it STANK! Every time water shot out of the discharge hose the laundry room filled with the odiferous scent of sewer. So, being a DIYer, I decided we could solve the mystery of the stinky washer ourselves.
My first step, as always, was jumping on Google and asking the question: Why does my front loader smell like a sewer? The only helpful hit was a forum in which a washing machine repairman participated. The repairperson said that it was a discharge hose problem. The hoses are corrugated for easy bending and lint and dirt and stuff gets caught in the corrugated bits and 'ferments' as it were. The suggestion was to get a hose brush and clean it out with a degreaser/water solution. That sounded good to us, so we gave it a shot. The hose was a little funky, and the offending smell did emit from it when water flushed out of it.
The repair dude's suggestion seemed to work. No more stink....for a week. And then, WAM! Gas mask time. We figured we hadn't gotten the hose clean enough and never would. So, we decided we'd just go to our local appliance repair shop and buy a new one.
MWT went in with the model number of the front loader and the service guy across the counter started writing up the order. "Broke the old hose?" he asked as he wrote.
"No," said MWT. "It stinks. We cleaned it, but...."
The serviceman shook his head.
"What?" said MWT.
The man stopped filling out the order. "I'd like nothing better than to sell you a new discharge hose, but I don't think the hose is the problem."
"Really?" asked MWT. "What is the problem, pray tell*?"
"Same thing happened to me a while back," said the man. "I think it's the detergent you're using and the amount." He went on to explain that when his front loader began to stink, it was after he had stopped using Tide. (We did the same about 6 months ago.) He also said that even though we were using liquid detergent specifically for HE machines, we were still using too much. He suggested using about half the quantity the Tide bottle suggested. (UPDATE: Read comments below, especially Mike's.)
"And that's it?" asked MWT. "That'll take care of it?"
The serviceman shook his head. "One more thing. Go home and dump a good amount of bleach into the washer and run it empty using hot water. That should take care of it."
"Gee," said MWT with that Boy Scout enthusiasm he sometimes emits, "thanks!"
So, that's exactly what we did. Flushed the washer with a bleach-only load and started using HALF the recommended amount of detergent. And you know what? The stink mysteriously disappeared!
*MWT didn't really say 'pray tell'. I took artistic license for Holmes-ian effect.