November 23, 2009 6:34 PM   Subscribe

How can I clean the soap out of my (laundry) washing machine?

We have an out of warranty front-loading washing machine, a Whirlpool Duet (ghw9200l). Recently it's started failing to pump out water; after trying for a while it moves to an error state showing F-02 and beep. The water has suds which is unusual, even when I just run a rinse cycle with no soap or clothes.

I'm running rinse cycles, but google queries suggest adding some "desudser." Is there such a thing, and is it better than just rinsing? If so, where should I look to buy it?
posted by pwnguin to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
Response by poster: Oh, I should note we recently picked up triple concentrated HE detergent; I think this is part of the problem, so I'll pick up some 2x later.
posted by pwnguin at 6:44 PM on November 23, 2009

You should buy some affresh and follow the instructions. We're supposed to use it once a month on our Whirpool Duet washer (our apartment came with a supply), but one every few months should be fine. My mom has the same washer and as far as I know doesn't use the cleaner, but she only had issues when she attempted to use non-HE laundry softener.
posted by halogen at 6:52 PM on November 23, 2009

I pour boiling hot water directly out of my kettle in to the detergent drawer to clear out detergent build-up. But your blockage may be lower in your machine... worth a try.
posted by taff at 6:55 PM on November 23, 2009

Vinegar and warm water?
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:59 PM on November 23, 2009

Run a few cycles on hot and add white vinegar to the water (maybe 1 or 2 cups). It helps get rid of soap and lime buildup.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 7:23 PM on November 23, 2009

Have you checked the drain pump filter? It is normally found on the bottom front of the machine. There is usually a method to drain the water out of it before you remove it (check your manual).
posted by ssg at 7:27 PM on November 23, 2009

To add to what ssg says, this is the first thing you should check. Have a whole bunch of towels to put down in front of the machine when you open the filter. The water that is in the machine is going to go onto the floor. Clean out the gunk (at our house it is dog hair) that you find in the filter. This might be the only problem.
posted by Old Geezer at 10:14 PM on November 23, 2009

Response by poster: I checked it last week; lots of fun with a washer full of water. Indeed, there were sticks and hair and coins hidden within.

What leads me to believe that it's a sud problem is that it will actually operate as intended if left to sit for 30 minutes after it goes petulant on me.
posted by pwnguin at 12:05 AM on November 24, 2009

Best answer: If the detergent is made for front loaders and you are using the correct amount, it shouldn't suds up.

Either someone put the wrong kind of soap in (I have had that nightmare with a dishwasher and regular soap...), or the machine isn't working right. I would wager that the pump has ceased to pump correctly, and is instead whipping the soapy water up like whipped cream. Figure out why.
posted by gjc at 3:36 AM on November 24, 2009

Best answer: Washing machine pumps go bad. Replacing them is fun, and not too difficult, and you save a bundle. Front-loaders have a heavy weight on top of the drum, so you may need help tipping it over to get at the pump (which is on the bottom). NOT that I know that's your issue, just in case.

Soap build up is most likely to happen due to the vast amounts of filler they put in some laundry detergents. So-called concentrated detergents are those with less fillers. They dissolve better. I don't know this "HE" term.

I would suppose, but don't know, that soap build up may also come with hard water. I've never seen honest-to-gosh hard water anywhere in America. In Europe, it's a horror. So I never run my washer without Calgon, and never have a build up problem. Actually, what I do see building up is residue from fabric softener.
posted by Goofyy at 11:37 AM on November 26, 2009

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