The last thing you want coming out of your laundry room, a home’s nerve center of clean and tidiness, is a mysterious stench that induces gagging and eye-watering; a smell so bad that you generate piles of also-stinky dirty clothes just to avoid it.

Seattle homeowner and apparent Swamp Thing enthusiast Rae Lembersky describes this particular, putrid odor:

Imagine that you're in one of those movies where there's a swamp monster and it's that kind of swampy, musty, sort of yucky smell.
Unfortunately, the culprit behind said smell, as many homeowners are finding out, is a good, green appliance: the front-loading washing machine. And using an already energy- and water-conserving front-loader to its full green potential by eschewing bleach and hot water makes the offending odor even worse.

In a recent consumer report for, mustachioed consumer advocate Herb Weisbaum tackles the smelly front-loader conundrum. The problem is simple: because of the way a tightly sealed front-loader operates, moisture is often trapped in the washer resulting in mildew, mold, and odorous bacteria. Can this be prevented? Yes, but as many consumers are finding out, preventing and fixing front-loader mold and bacteria growth isn’t exactly easy (or cheap) and appliance manufacturers aren’t exactly helpful.

For more on the problem and preventative measures, check out the video below. Has your front-loading washing machine ever generated a nasty stench? 


Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

The stink cycle
Ever notice a rank stench coming from your laundry room? It could be your water- and energy-conserving front-loading washing machine.