Cross This Off Your List

front loader washing machineAn oft-repeated rule for him-to-her gift-giving goes something like this: Never
give your girlfriend/sweetheart/wife a present she has to plug in. Perfume? Yes. An iron? No. Jewelry? Yes. An electric can opener? No. Candy? Yes…well, you get the idea.

I beg to disagree.

Some of my favorite gifts have had electric cords attached. A window-unit air conditioner when I was miserably hot and pregnant. A microwave oven so I didn’t have to warm baby food on top of the stove. A party-size percolator. A laptop computer. An e-reader.

Not too many years ago, at my request, I got a Dyson vacuum cleaner for my birthday. Though it hasn’t made me prone to vacuum any more often than I ever did, once I take a notion to drag it out, it’s wonderful. It weighs about a million pounds but it sure can suck up some dirt. And lint. And little pieces of hay. And dead bugs. All of which I can see in the bag-less canister.

The only terrible plug-in present I ever received is, unfortunately, one I still have. I fear that I’m likely to be a very old woman by the time it quits working.

A front-loading washing machine.

When my trusty but ancient top-loading Maytag finally gave out four or five years ago, George and I debated whether to replace it with another top-loader or to get a newfangled front-loader. We’d heard that front-loaders use way less water and are gentler on clothes because they tumble rather than agitate.

I’d heard some complaints from friends who had front-loaders that they didn’t like having to squat or bend to get the laundry out of the washer. But I was agile. If that were to change, I could always put the washer on risers. And so we decided on a front-loader.

It was fine for a while. Even kind of fun. If nothing good was on TV, we’d drag some chairs into the laundry room and watch the watcher do its job.  But it wasn’t long before I noticed something strange about my freshly-washed clothes. They smelled bad.  Dank and musty and definitely unappealing.

Maybe it was time to change detergent brands. That didn’t help. Neither did new dryer sheets. What the heck was going on?

I googled FRONT LOADER ODOR and got hundreds of hits. My experience was far from unique. Apparently, the rubber seal that keeps the washer door from leaking tends to trap dirty water, which soon starts to smell bad. Meaning that even “clean” laundry will smell bad, too. The solution? I came across several. One is to leave the washer door open any time the machine isn’t running so the seal can dry. Run the washer empty with hot water and bleach every now and then to kill mildew. Use Washer Fresh Wipes to scrub the glass and door seal. Buy expensive washing machine cleaner (“helps remove odor causing residues in any washer”) and use it at least once a month.

Maddening? You bet.

But I do all those things because I can’t justify replacing an expensive appliance that still works. All I can do is warn others. Don’t buy a front-loader washing
machine as a Christmas gift. Or for a birthday, anniversary or Valentine’s Day.
Opt for perfume or jewelry or a giant box of Russell Stover chocolates instead.
Or maybe even a top-loader washing machine.

(December 15, 2013)


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