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Washing machine produces pale streaks on laundry or emits a sour smell
Electrolux Support

Washing machine produces pale streaks on laundry or emits a sour smell


If the washing machine produces pale streaks on laundry or emits a sour smell, refer to the suggestions below for step by step instructions.

Streaks and sour smell:

Streaks on garments and a sour smell coming from the washing machine are unfortunately well-known phenomena when you use a new washing machine. 

  • The problem is usually caused by a combination of four factors: 
  1. A water-saving washing machine 
  2. Adding too much washing powder 
  3. Washing at too low a temperature 
  4. Using detergent which contain zeolite. 

A new washing machine uses considerably less water than a ten-year old model.

  • The dosing instructions on detergent packs do not take into account the fact that new washing machines are much more efficient in using water than previous models.
  • If you add precisely the right amount of detergent according to the instructions on the packet, you will always add too much detergent if your washing machine is new. 

Many detergents contain the substance zeolite. (Zeolite is used as a substitute for the environmentally harmful substance phosphate.)

  • Zeolite softens water during a wash cycle. Unfortunately, zeolite does not dissolve as readily as phosphate. 
  • When you use a detergent which contains zeolite and add too much washing power at low temperatures in a washing machine with a low water consumption, you will initially see soap residues on your garments. 
  • If you continue using the detergent, you will notice a sour smell coming from the washing machine after a while. This is caused by a mixture of lime and undissolved zeolite, which adheres to the back of the drum. Some of this coating on the drum can be released during washing and cause pale streaks on the garments. This applies even if you do not add too much detergent or you use liquid detergent for the wash. 

It is important to ensure that your washing machine is ventilated.

  • Poor ventilation will result in a wetter “environment” in the washing machine, as well as a sourer smell.
  • In a new washing machine, it is not sufficient to leave the door open after a wash cycle.
  • You must do three things: wipe the rubber seal dry, leave the detergent dispenser drawer and the door open. 

To eliminate the problem of sour smells, you must remove the coating on the back of the drum. The Danish consumer organization Forbrugerinformationen investigated the phenomenon over a long period of time and published guidance on how to remove the coating on the drum.

  • Once the coating has been removed, it is important to add the correct amount of detergent in future. 
  • Adding the correct amount of detergent to a new water-saving washing machine: 
  • Read the instructions on the detergent packet, use the recommended quantity and measure out the detergent precisely. 

If you still get pale streaks on your laundry, you could try adding even less detergent, try a different detergent which does not contain zeolite or using liquid detergent.

  • When you use liquid detergent, you should also add the recommended amount in accordance with the instructions on the bottle.
  • Liquid detergent can be added to a dispenser ball, which is placed on top of the clothing inside the drum. 
Six things you should always remember with a new washing machine: 
  1. Use the recommended amount of detergent in accordance with the instructions on the packet. 
  2. Measure out the detergent in a measuring cup.
  3. Wipe down the rubber seal after washing 
  4. Leave the detergent dispenser drawer open after washing 
  5. Leave the door open after washing 
  6. Hot-wash at regular intervals
How to save your sour-smelling washing machine:
  • See our Webshop for various suitable products for caring for and maintaining your washing machine. (You can visit our Webshop by clicking on the link below).

If ordinary detergents for washing machines do not solve the problem, it may be necessary to follow the cleaning instructions below.