Tuesday, August 20, 2019

problem solved!

I finally had enough. Even after cleaning my washing machine as thoroughly as possible, I still had stinky clothing at the end of every wash. Frustrating. Infuriating. At a guess, the problem was the skanky water that flowed into the machine. The time had come to go vigilante, which meant taking some risks.

Odor comes primarily from bacteria; the washer has been failing to perform its one and only duty, which is to clean my clothes. If the clothes are coming out stinky, then they're not clean. When I heat up and sweat in my now-dry-but-still-unclean clothes, I amplify that stink and become a nuisance to my coworkers. The bacteria must die, which is something that can be accomplished through the blistering heat of a clothes dryer, a crucial piece of equipment that I don't have, and haven't used in years, mainly because most Koreans believe in hang-drying their clothing, an action that utterly fails to prevent odors.

If you can't do autoclave sterilization, you go chemical. So I decided to risk dumping a tiny bit of bleach into the wash: a small capful of bleach diluted in about 900 cc of water, poured into the machine during the rinse cycle.

Result: problem mostly solved. There was no fading or loss of color, which was the very thing I was trying to avoid when I elected to dilute the bleach. But when I pulled the clothes out of the washer and handled them, I noticed that my fingertips no longer acquired that vaguely musty stench, even after I had handled the entire load. Well, to be honest, there was the tiniest whiff of wrongness, but it was hard to detect. I might try 1.5 capfuls of bleach next time. Just like nuking a site from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.


John Mac said...

Ha, I thought you were going to say you purchased a dryer! Although I guess most Korean apartments aren't set up for one. Pretty ballsy pouring bleaching into your colored laundry, but whatever works!

Charles said...

There is color-safe "bleach" that you could try. Obviously it's not really bleach (or at least I'm assuming it isn't), but apparently it performs the same function.

It is weird that your clothes come out smelling musty, though. I wonder if it's something in the water pipes.

Kevin Kim said...


It's almost definitely a something-in-the-water problem. This is an old building.

John from Daejeon said...

I don't recall ever seeing them in South Korean stores, but you can buy odor removing products for clothes (Lysol, Fabreeze, and OxyClean) during the wash cycle in the U.S. To clean the washing machine, Bob Villa's ghostwriter recommends something a little more thorough.

Kevin Kim said...

John from Daejeon,

Thanks. Yeah, that's almost exactly what I saw in a YouTube tutorial, except the tutorial recommended (1) using baking soda followed by vinegar, and (2) draining and cleaning the washer's filter along with swabbing and wiping down all the other surfaces mentioned. I figured out the bleach thing on my own.

Kory said...

One cycle with a quart of bleach and one cycle with a quart of vinegar. Works for us.