Question about Kenmore Elite 45986 Front Load Washer

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Kenmore elite he5t washer

It seems as though clothes especially towels and washcloths have an odor to them after they have been washed.  It's almost as if they are mildewed, but they have just come out of the laundry. I am using HE detergent, didn't know if I am not using enough detergent(I am following pkg instructions), maybe overloading the machine, or maybe I should just be using fabric softener, but I am thinking that might just cover up the odor.  I never had trouble before the new washer, and generally don't use fabric softener, have kids with skin allergies.You don't notice the odor really until the towels are wet. Like when you are drying off, or using a wet wash cloth. Any information would be appreciated.

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  • Anonymous Feb 06, 2008

    Mildew smell when washing clothes. Not sure where to find sourcew of problem. I am aware of the socks in the rubber gasket area and leaving the door open. Trying the bleach method now. However, this problem is relatively recent. No problem with water supply.

  • Anonymous Mar 12, 2008

    My Kenmore washer front loading really stinks inside even if I leave the door open to dry out. I have tried doing a cycle with just bleach to kill anything but it doesn't seem to help.


  • Anonymous May 07, 2008

    I have a Kenmore Elite he3 and the washer has a mold/mildew smell. It really makes towels smell moldy. What can I do to fix this problem?

  • Anonymous Sep 10, 2008

    yes! I've had customer service out numeral times and they say "it is what it is" I even exchanged it for the top of the line model, spending another $1,000. Same problem. It's only the towels, and I've tried both baking soda and white vinegar. I clean the gasket in the door after each wash. I wash down the drum once and week, and every 4-6 weeks, run the clean cycle.

    I am so sick of this problem, I'm ready to blow a gasket myself.

  • sandy dee Nov 04, 2008

    I have a Kenmore Elite 4Ht that is 2 years old and I have the same problem with mold. From the research I have performed so far, it looks like this is a DESIGN FLAW with the washer and that Sears should have this machine RECALLED.

  • dezhome Nov 25, 2008

    I have the same problem. All of my clothes now smell moldy when they get warm or wet. I've wiped out under the rubber ring, washed with bleach, leave the door open when empty. Help!

  • deebarr May 03, 2009

    I too have the same problem with my Kenmore Elite HE. It stinks like mold, mildew and I can not find my owners manual to clean this. Where can I repurchase a manual



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I too have a HE4t washer. When I bought it, the Sears sales man said that after doing the wash for the day, you have to always wipe out the insides of the rubber gasket. If you do not do this, you will get mold build up. I an anal about doing this and for 6 months now have had no mildew smell. However, I went on a trip for 2 weeks and when I got back, there was an awful mold smell. I checked the gasket and sure enough, there was gunk build up. Needless to say hubby and kids did not do the maintenance. I had to wipe it up several times with bleach to remove the mold spores. Then I ran a sanitary cycle with pure bleach. Smell is gone thankfully.

But don't you think it's ironic to have a $1500.00 machine that needs to be babied after the end of the day?

Posted on Feb 11, 2008

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STOP USING TIDE. I had the same problem. Stop using Tide and any other detergent they make. Tide in there attempt to go green, removed some chemicals that worked. They changed it for the worst just to make the tree huggers happy. I switched to Cheer and problem solved. I have the Kenmore Elite HE5t steam.

Posted on Oct 31, 2009

  • beachgirl160 Feb 01, 2011

    I've had my machine for 2 years and have never had a problem with mold or smell either in the clothes/towels or in the machine itself. I do not leave the door open and I have never run it through a clean cycle or bought any special washing machine cleaner. I wipe out the rubber seal every once in awhile but I HAVE NEVER USED TIDE or any other laundry soap from the grocery store like All or Cheer. >>>I have only ever used ECOS natural detergent ( Phone 1-630-595-1900 ) from Costco in the wash and white vinegar instead of fabric softener. I also add a small scoop of plain baking soda (or once in awhile oxiclean) in the cup marked "oxi/color safe bleach" when I wash towels, sheets, socks, underwear and anything really dirty or smelly because baking soda conditions the water and helps the detergent work better.

    I recently had to call repair because water started pooling in the washer if I didn't use it for a day or two (still with no odors!) and found out I have been using way too much detergent. The tech told me to never use more than 2 tablespoons of soap because this machine uses so little water that if you use more soap the machine has to work harder and I damaged the valve by using too much soap. Hope this helps all of you who are so disillusioned by this machine...I still love mine and want to buy them for my next house!!!


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Hi! I have Kenmore Elite 4t and had this same problem: Musty, Moldy smell in washer and on clothes. The Sears Technician suggested that I use a half a cup of Clorox Liquid Bleach and put it in the tub (not the dispenser). NO CLOTHES! Use the longest hottest setting and when it's done clean the inside (underneath rubber tire thingie) and the undernath part of the door with a papertowel. And to always leave the door open. I did what he said with the bleach and it worked. I didn't want to leave the door open because I have 2 cats & was afraid that they would want to go in it, but ended up repeating the bleach thing again because a few days later the horrible smell was back. I leave the door open all the time now and the cats never go in it. They've watched laundry spin around, so I guess they're smart enough to not want to go in it. I have not had this problem again since I always leave the door open and I did this over a month ago. I hope this helps!

Posted on Jan 18, 2008

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My husband and I have the Kenmore Elite HE5 washer and dryer. A Sears tech suggested that we clean the washing machine regularly with a washing machine cleaner. I couldn't remember the brand he suggested, but Tide makes one and our towels smell extra fresh. Hope this helps. 

Posted on Jun 25, 2009

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We were having the same problem with clean towels smelling once they got wet. Started adding a half a cup of vinager to the wash. No more stinking towels. Add when the water is at full level. Joe

Posted on Aug 16, 2008

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The first thing to do if you have had the machine a few months is to check the pump drain trap for anything that might have made it's way into it and is growing bacteria. Your owners manual gives instructions on how to do this. Also look inside the rubber boot in the door for stray socks.

After you have cleaned the trap, run the washer through a "clean cycle". I think your book will describe this also, but if not, use the sanitary cycle with a full cup of chlorine bleach poured in where you normaly put the detergent. Run empty through the cycle. This should kill any mildew or bacteria growing inside the machine. This should be done about once a month, more often if you don't use chlorine bleach in your normal wash routine.

Washing in cold water and using color safe bleach has become the normal way to wash and save energy, however it doesn't kill a lot of the germs that cause odors in fabric and washing machines.

Also you may want to get a brand new towel and wet it in hot water from your sink, then let it air dry. If it ends up smelling the same, you have a water problem.

You may also be over loading so that the clothes aren't getting as clean as they should.

Post back to let me know how it comes out and if you need any help.




Posted on Oct 18, 2007

  • Anonymous Oct 21, 2007

    Just wanted to follow up on your washer and see what you found out.



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I've used vinegar too, it helps

Posted on Dec 07, 2009

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Corbin31... you must take a dump anywhere you please, and don't give a **** who steps in it... the only thing in the world that matters is you...

Posted on Dec 22, 2009

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Our towels and clothes have a mildew/musty smell. when I spin the stainless drum inside, i can hear water sloshing around.

Towel mildew odor is transferred from the washer to towels and clothes. The washer must be cleaned first. After cleaning the washer and towels washing habits must change to stop mold smell from returning.

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Same problem with my front loader. You have to make sure to clean out the rubber trap in the front regularly. it seems to collect alot of hair and plug the drain hole. also it helps to leave the door open when you finish washing to further reduce the stagnant water smell. Use fabric softener for the towels!

hope that helps.

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