Do Those "Cleaners" for an HE Washing Machine Really Help?

Updated on March 27, 2012
N.B. asks from Minneapolis, MN
13 answers

So my HE washer I have had a few years, has had its ups and downs. But the last few months, it has inconsistently been making me Nutso! Sometimes the clothes, and especially towels, do not come out smelling nice. I assume the chances of the towels is higher as I wash way more of those loads than anything else.

I am tired of the towel lottery, and not knowing if they will smell nice. UGH!

So do the things like Tide washing machine washer thingys actually help these HE washers? I always leave the door open, do not overload it, use appropriate amounts of HE detergent, etc. Its just more in the last few months really (and I have had it a few years).

Suggestions that you have used?

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So What Happened?

Ok..I have no "bleach only" cycle.

I leave the door open all the time when not in use.

I never leave loads in the washer unless I can get them into the dryer. I do home childcare, and my laundry room is on this floor, so I can easily get to it within an hour Tops of when it finishes.

Once a cycle starts, the door is locked and it can not be opened unless the load is cancelled (its front loader BTW...not sure if that matters).

I will try a vinegar cycle...but where do I put the vinegar? In the dispenser? Its the only way, other than dumping it IN the washer before turning it on, that I can, so I assume that would be the way?? And how much??

I am (today)using my "sanitize" cycle on all of them. I do this occasionally, but its almost a 2 hour cycle and uses alot more energy to heat the water even hotter than a normal "hot" load (it takes 1 hour 56 minutes).

THANKS for the suggestions..keep them coming!!

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answers from Columbia on

Two suggestions that I do myself:

1) Use vinegar regularly (in the detergent tray, softener tray or 'bleach' tray.) I use vinegar AS the softener and sometimes as the 'bleach'.

2) Use vinegar as a clean-out. Use the sanitize button or regular wash - no clothes - just vinegar.

Vinegar is a disinfectant, safe for little ones, will clean out the soap scum and mildew and keep the washer tip top.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Jacksonville on

I have had my front loader for about 4yrs now and I've never used those. I used to run a regular hot cycle (empty) with bleach in the fabric dispenser per my manufacture instructions. But then I learned my bath towels smelled bad because of fabric softener build up in them :( So I started using vinegar as my fabric softener in those which is also great for the washing machine too (about 1/4 cup)!! And no, my towels don't smell like vinegar either, in fact I've got my mom and my SIL doing the same thing because their towels were smelling bad too! Once in a while I'll run an empty load on hot with about 1/2 cup vinegar in the fabric softener tray just to get rid of extra soap residue in it. I found out I was using too much soap (HE) and that even the lowest line in the cap of most HE soaps is too much for any front loader and that they only require about a tablespoon of soap for a full load!! The tech told me that suds build up in the pump and won't allow the washer to spin enough water out which will cause the obnoxious banging sound for being off balance.

Leaving the door open when not in use is great! I also leave the dispenser flap open too on mine.

Good luck

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I have been through this...this is what I have found to work. Like one of the other posts, I use vinegar every cycle. In the bleach dispenser or the softener dispenser. I never use a liquid softener or a liquid detergent. These turn into stinky slime inside the washer and just mold or rot or whatever they do...I was told by a repair man many years ago to just use vinegar and dry detergent (HE of course) and ever since I have had NO trouble at all with stinky towels or clothing. In fact, I now get compliments on how nice my laundry smells! I use sears HE detergent because when its on sale its the cheapest. I buy vinegar by the gallon jugs. Hope this helps as I hated my front loader until I started doing this. Also, it may take a few cycles to get rid of the build up or smells if you have been using liquid softeners and detergents.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I have used the affresh tablets and they work but you could also just put bleach in the detergent part and run it on a normal cycle with nothing in it. They say to clean the washer every month but I dont. I have only done the affresh twice and bleach once in the 1 1/2 years that I have had it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

1. Don't leave laundry in the washer overnight or all day. Use the "Delay Cycle" mode so it starts an hour before you'd be available to put it in the dryer.

2. Leave your washer door cracked between cycles so it completely dries.

3. Use the bleach-only cleaning cycle.

All this has worked for me! The only time I ever get musty clothes is when they've been left in the wash wet for too long.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Cloud on

I use the Tide brand washer cleaner. I've tried other brands, but this one really seems to do the trick for me. Be sure to use the HOT water setting (and don't forget to turn it back to your preferred setting AFTER you are done!) The first time I "washed" my washer I had to do 3 treatments in a row to get it smelling fresh again. Now I make sure to run the cleaner through once a month.



answers from Albany on

These HE washers are tricky. Does your washer have a "clean washer mode"? If so I would use that. And try to clean your washer about once a month. Or if your washer does not have that option.... You could wash a couple small items (so it turns on) in Hot water for a long cycle, with bleach. And really wipe out the washer when it's done. And repeat until clean.



answers from New York on

I have had 2 HE machines in the last 5 years (we moved) and I have never had this issue. BUT I only do like 2 loads every 2 weeks or so. We are a family of 3. Do you do laundry several times a week? Keep the door open when not in use and remove wet clothes promptly.


answers from San Francisco on

I second everything ⊱♥Christy♥Lee♥⊰ said.


answers from Pocatello on

Yes they work! I wasn't noticing my clothes having a funny smell but last year my washer had that smell. Every time I would take a load of wet clothes out I could smell it. So I bought those washer packs and it totally worked. I actually only had to use 1 and it took the smell away. It's been a year and I still haven't had to use another one yet :)



answers from New York on

Just tried Tide cleaner last night. Will let you know in three weeks. The
instructions say use once a week for three weeks and then once a month.

I also use vinegar occasionally. Run a quick wash with just vinegar, no
clothes. About 2 cups.



answers from Cincinnati on

I tried the Tide washing machine cleaner and it was AWFUL! I followed the instructions to a tee and the powder turned into a solid, caked on mess in my dispenser. I had to use a knife and hot water to scrape it off. It also did NOT clean my washer- I got better results with lysol and a rag. However, P&G was very good about my complaint- thats right, it was SO bad that I called and complained. They promptly sent out a coupon for a free tide product because of the ordeal. I would never, ever use that stuff again or recommend it to anyone!


answers from Dallas on

I run mine ( at least 10 yrs old) on a very hot cycle with Clorox about once a week or so.

The trick is to get the water hot BEFORE you start the washer. Same idea with a dishwasher. If you do that, the washer does not have to heat the water and it can't get it as hot as you cn in the beginning anyway.

I have a sink by my washer and when I get the water as hot as possible, THEN I start my washer with Clorox. I have no trouble with clothes coming out smelling fresh.

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