GE Appliances Clears the Air on Smelly Front Loaders

GE’s UltraFresh vent system draws in fresh air after the wash cycle to keep the Microban-infused interior dry.

By Alan Wolf, YSN

Let’s be frank – doing laundry is a smelly business. And for some consumers, their front load washers can add to the funk.

Indeed, according to a poll by GE Appliances, 46 percent of respondents said that mold or odor is their top frustration when considering front load washers.

As a consequence – and despite the fact that front loaders use less water and energy, have more capacity and are gentler on clothes – some 50 percent of owners ultimately return to top load models due to smell and the inconvenience of having to leave the door open to prevent the growth of odor-causing bacteria.

 “Consumers are searching for solutions and coming up with ways to put a bandage on the issue, like cleaning the washer after each use, wiping down the gasket and most commonly propping the door open,” said Peter Pepe, Vice President, Product Management for laundry at GE Appliances.

But believing that the onus should be on the manufacturer rather than the consumer, GE spent two-and-a-half years sniffing out the problem and has finally shut the door on front-load odor. It’s new UltraFresh Front Load washer, available in January, employs the three D’s to stamp out stink: drain, dry and defend.

To allow the unit to fully drain after the wash cycle, GE developed a wider gasket that’s also angled to better remove residual water. It also developed a new UltraFresh vent system with OdorBlock that draws in and circulates fresh air after the wash cycle to keep the door, gasket and basket dry without leaving the door open. In addition, GE has infused the gasket, dispenser and pump with an exclusive Microban antimicrobial technology that can defend against the growth of odor-causing bacteria in parts of the washer where moisture could linger.

The result, said Pepe, “is the first [front load washer] in the industry to solve for the issues that lead to stink, making care and maintenance along with laundry chores much easier for the consumer.”

Beyond passing the smell test, the new UltraFresh front loaders also appeal to the eyes with two new matte finishes, Satin Nickel and Sapphire Blue; feature reversible doors to accommodate different laundry room configurations and new balancing technology to keep the cycles quiet; and have loads of onboard smarts for releasing the right amount of detergent automatically and to connect to the Internet to permit remote starts or adjust the dryer’s cycle settings based on the last wash cycle.

GE said the new washers will be priced to hit a suggested retail range of $899 to $1,199, based on size and features.