Settlement in Front-Loading Washer Case

Published: Jul. 14, 2016 at 3:25 PM EDT
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(07/18/16) - Stinky Laundry - that's what some people say they're getting from their front-loading washing machines.

Now, years after the first complaints and several lawsuits, two manufacturers are finally doing something about it.

"I bought it and it's been a nightmare ever since,” said Brenda Adams. She is talking about her high-end Whirlpool front loading washing machine.

Adams and her husband paid more than a $1,000 for it back in 2005.

"You save water, it was an energy saver, and it was the HE, which was supposed to also save you on detergent and such," she said.

What she didn't know, at the time, is all of the perceived savings would come at a greater cost. She is doubling up on rinsing, washing longer, using more detergent and buying more detergent even though the instructions say to use less.

When you do your laundry, you expect for your towels and clothing to come out smelling fresh and clean, but that's not the case with some of these front-loading washing machines. Some front loaders have been accused of leaving a stinky, embarrassing odor on the laundry it's supposed to clean.

Years ago, consumers began complaining and some even filed lawsuits.

Jonathan Selbin is the lead attorney for the plaintiffs.

"The reports that we were getting from our clients and other folks we talked with is that they were getting a very bad odor coming out of their washing machine and upon investigation they were finding that they had mold growing in places in the washing machine that they wouldn't be obvious to just the casual user,” he said.

Adams describes it as a "wet basement smell that permeates throughout her home if the laundry door is left open.”

Millions of the front loaders were made by Whirlpool, Kenmore and Maytag between 2001 and 2010. Manufacturers were made aware of the "stinky" problem, but insisted it wasn't the machine, but the consumer.

Selbin says they told owners that it was the way they were using the machine. Because they are front-loading machines, owners were told to leave the front door open and to run special cleaning cycles once a month.

At one point, consumers were told they had to buy Affresh, a product sold by Whirlpool, and to run extra cycles of that through the washing machine.

Over the years, Adams says she has tried a lot of things, and nothing really works.

Frustrated consumers filed several class action lawsuits against the manufactures and just recently Sears and Whirlpool agreed to a settlement which offers owners $50 a 20 percent rebate, or up to $500 cash if you paid out of pocket to repair or replace the problem.

Adams received a postcard notifying her of the settlement. She says it's not enough.

"They said, ‘Oh we will, ah, send you possibly $50.’ What's $50? I spend that in one month on different washing products. They never said, ‘We will replace your washer,’” she said.

Consumers have until Oct. 11 to file a claim. You can get a five percent rebate even if you didn't experience mold or odor in the affected machines.

For more information, call 1-844-824-5781 or click the link in the ‘Related Links’ section of this story.