LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Front-loading washing machines have prompted several class-action lawsuits nationwide by some who claim the appliances are stinking up their homes.
As CBS2’s Elsa Ramon reports, Carrie Sachs purchased a front-loading washing machine six years ago for her Monrovia home.
“So, about four to six months after purchasing the washer, I started getting discoloration … the seal, the rubber seal of my washer, and then also my clothing started to smell really bad,” she explains.
Sachs says even though she has followed the manufacturer’s advice on removing the mold, nothing has worked.
But she’s not alone.
As Ramon reports, front-loading washing machines may be causing more service calls across the country.
“You could say it was a clothes spoiler instead of a clothes washer,” said Michael Vogler, who is one of the lead plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against one of the many manufacturers.
Vogler says he noticed his allergies worsening, his clothes smelling, and he found a mold streak on one of his clean shirts. That’s when he says he discovered black sliminess in the rubber.
Ramon reports that class-action lawsuits are pending against several top washing-machine makers. The suits claim the machines are defective with designs and airtight seals that create breeding grounds for slimy, smelly, black bacteria or “biofilm.”
“The company knew that there was a problem as early as April of 2007 and rather than recalling the machines, letting consumers know that there was a problem, they continued to sell those machines,” said attorney Ed Wallace, who represents Vogler and others in the litigation against Electrolux Home Products, according to CBSLA affiliate CBS-DFW.
Attorneys are also arguing that when customers complain, manufacturers often blame them for not cleaning their machines, with some saying it’s not a very common problem.
However, plumbers and appliance service companies couldn’t disagree more. With undercover cameras rolling, serviceman said over and over again how common standing water, mold and odors are in front-loading washers.
In court documents, Whirlpool is accused of marketing a product to combat mold and make millions even though the company had said it had few consumer complaints about bacteria.
Vogler says when he complained to Frigidaire, he was told to buy a $200 part.
“Companies that rip off consumers $200-$300 at a time and even more, it’s just not fair,” Wallace said.
Sachs is preparing to pay for a new rubber seal for her machine, which is made by Samsung, a manufacturer not named in the class-action.
In the meantime, Vogler is doing his laundry in a top-loading washer as he waits for his day in court.
Experts offer the following advice for those experiencing this problem:
• Do not use liquid fabric softeners but dryer sheets in the dryer.
• Run bleach through the machine.
• Use Clorox wipes to clean the machine.
• Leave the machine door open if you don’t have small children or pets.
Click below to read statements from several manufacturers of front-loading machines: