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Washing Machine Manufacturers Facing Lawsuits Over Mold

Several consumers who purchased front-loader washing machines eventually experienced an unpleasant flaw with their equipment – mold.

Many name-brand washing machine manufacturers are facing lawsuits over the mold issue with their front-loader units. The units in question were manufactured in the early to mid-2000s.

Several consumers who purchased front-loader washing machines eventually experienced the same unpleasant flaw with their equipment – mold.

Mold is a fungus. Mold can encompass a large and taxonomically diverse number of fungal species. Over time, mold persistently grows on anything organic when moisture is present.

When seen, mold has a discolored, fuzzy appearance and in various hues of brown, green, and black. In the case of a front-loader washing machine, it can be seen accumulating along the thick rubber seal of the door. Trapped moisture allows for the growth.

Molds are ubiquitous in nature as the spores are a common component of household and workplace dust. However, when mold spores are present in large quantities, they can present a health hazard. And prolonged exposure may be particularly harmful.

The toxins produced by some molds can pose serious health risks to humans and animals – resulting in allergic and respiratory issues, along with neurological problems and death.

According to the EPA, mild symptoms caused by mold allergies are watery, itchy eyes, a chronic cough, headaches or migraines, difficulty breathing, rashes, fatigue, sinus problems, nasal congestion, and frequent sneezing.

Mold is usually found in damp, dark or steamy areas: in bathrooms or kitchens, storage spaces, flooded areas, basements, near plumbing, in crawl spaces.

Essentially mold is present in areas high in moisture with poor ventilation or outdoors in humid environments.

In regards to the front-loader washing machines cited in the complaint, the mold is detectable by a pungent and unpleasant odor emanating from the unit; or seen, again, accumulating on the door seal. This same stench can transfer to washed clothing.

Yet the whole point of washing your clothes is to clean them.

Legal experts allege companies like Whirlpool knew of the mold-encouraging defect and still made and sold the faulty washing machine models anyway.

An internal memo from 2004 addressed the issue, according to Today. Whirlpool identified the problem, stating front-loaders were the “ideal environment for molds.”

However, instead of recalling or fixing the problem immediately, companies produced tablets and powders marketed as washing machine cleaners. The catch, not only did the customer purchase the machine – which on average ran $1,000 – but they too had to buy the cleaner to remedy the moldy-flaw.

Now consumers want a refund for the pricey, faulty washing machines they purchased. Many were forced to buy new models when the mold became too much.

Washing machine models named in lawsuits include:

Whirlpool front-load washers sold between 2001 and December 2008, without a steam feature, such as the duet and duet sport; the Sears/Kenmore front-load washers sold between 2001 and December 2008, without a steam feature; LG front-load washers sold between August 1, 2003 and December 31, 2007, without a steam feature; and Bosch front-loading washers.

The lawsuits target models manufactured before 2009. Specific models can be seen here.

In response to the reports complaining about the issue with the washing machines, Whirlpool stated, “This is lawyer-driven litigation in which the attorneys are seeking fees and damages for more than 97 percent of all washer purchasers who have never had the problem alleged in the lawsuit, and are completely satisfied with their washing machines.”

According to the report noted in Today, many washing machines have since been designed to better prevent the germination of mold. Still if consumers are concerned there are a few ways to minimize mold growth.

When finished with the washing machine, leave the door propped open to allow the interior of the unit to air out. Mind small children and pets when doing so. Occasionally run a bleach cycle as bleach can kill the odor producing mold spores. Wipe out the excess moisture inside the metal drum of the washing machine after use.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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