If you have a front-loading washing machine, you know what it’s like to discover that you’ve closed the door too soon after finishing a cycle, having thought it was completely dry. You’ve done your duty and kept the seals clean and dry, you’ve diligently cleaned out the filter regularly, and now your washer is STINKY. The moisture remains! It’s so unfair.
(Side note: I feel like an imposter writing this post, because it’s the kind of thing you’d see in every other issue of Real Simple or connected to a Pinterest-ready graphic labeled with lettering that’s supposed to look like it was hand-lettered with a brush but is obviously a font. Even the title of the post sounds like someone else wrote it. If you never look at me the same way again, I completely understand. But man, my heart is IN THIS.)
I had a front-loader in New York, but because it was in the basement next to Leatherface, I was able to leave the door open whenever it wasn’t in use. Now, though, our washer and dryer are stacked in a closet in our living space, and leaving the door open for 24-48 hours (which is truly how long it takes to dry completely, even in New Mexico’s bone-dry climate) is a pain—especially since an open washer door impedes our access to the backyard.
After a year or so of feeling annoyed by having a stinky washer (and having to mitigate the stinky with more tub-cleaning treatments than should really be necessary), it crossed my mind that I should start saving all of the silica packets that come in vitamins and stuff, and maybe I could put a little dish of them in the washing machine when it’s not in use.
Then I started wondering whether it’s possible to buy those loose silica or another desiccant in bulk, and then I remembered DampRid. DampRid!
In New York, the Land of Humidity, putting a container of DampRid (which is really just calcium chloride in a strainer with a receptacle for the water that gets pulled out of the air) in a closet is a normal, common way to avoid winding up with musty clothes or moldy papers, but since moving to New Mexico, Land of Parched Air, I’d completely forgotten it exists.
While I initially envisioned just setting a container of DampRid at the bottom of the washer, I discovered they also make a bag version with a hanger at the top designed to hang from a clothing rod. Hmmmmmmm. Hmmmmmmm? For about 15 minutes I thought I might be able to come up with a way to hang the bag from the gasket somehow, and then it hit me. MAGNETS.
I ordered up a couple of heavy-duty rare earth magnets and a pack of DampRid hanging bags, and felt like a goddamn genius while I waited for them to arrive. New Mexico just brings this brilliance out in people, apparently.
Magnetic hook on the back of the drum, DampRid bag on the hook. Washer drawer shut. YOW! But would it work???
Friends, IT WORKS. It works!!! It works so well. It is absolutely BANANAS how much moisture it absorbs from a washer that’s already “dry.” I still leave the washer door open overnight after doing laundry (I typically only do laundry once a week), but the next morning I shut the door and forget about it. And the door stays shut. It’s not stinky AT ALL when I open it up a week later!
When the washer is in use, I just move the bag and the magnet to the side of the washer. It could not be easier. (And yes, one time I did forget to take it out before I did a load of laundry, but incredibly, the DampRid bag was still intact and only slightly depleted afterward! I rewashed the load and got on with my life. No harm done!)
One DampRid bag seems to last about three months, but that’ll of course depend on how often you do laundry and what the humidity levels are like where you live. At any rate, it WORKS, and if front-loader washer dampness and stink is something that has plagued you, this is a pretty nice solution.
The only thing I’ll do differently next time is make sure I’m buying fragrance-free DampRid. I was in such a rush of excitement when I ordered it the first time that I didn’t even consider that it would have a scent. What they call “fresh scent” reminds me of bathroom air freshener—better than mildew stink, but definitely not ideal. Also, I haven’t been able to find these hanging bags in local stores, so it does seem like something I’ll have to continue ordering online.
ALSO, it’s possible that there’s a solution someone smarter than me could come up with using reusable/refillable materials like glass and metal that could be combined with bulk calcium chloride (thus eliminating the need for the disposable plastic components), but I’m just not the person who’s going to figure that out.
I’ll keep cleaning my washing machine’s seals regularly, keeping the link trap clear, and running a monthly cleaning cycle with an Affresh tablet monthly, but I’m pretty happy that mid-week mildew stink is no longer an issue for my washing machine.