Maytag and Mold

My last post about my new Maytag Neptune washer and the class action suit against Maytag yielded a lot of comments. Like most folks on this thread, I can't say that Maytag has been really responsive to my requests for information. In a way, this is a classic marketing problem -- what do you do when you have a product that your customers are telling you is defective, but you either can't prove it internally or don't want to take the hit (image and monetary) of admitting it and fixing it. The general solution that most marketing classes offer is to admit that there's a problem, make the customers as happy as you can without going out of business, and move on. What's interesting is that Maytag doesn't seem to be taking that path. Maybe they can't find the problem themselves or don't have a good solution. But the absence of any information on their Web site about this seems weird.

In any event, I did some research into mold, wondering if there were a home remedy (or in my case, something I could do to avert mold growing in my new washer). I found that mold grows best between 50 and 100 degrees F. That it likes damp spaces. That it needs something to feed on. there are many things that kill mold: bleach, UV-C light, ozone, and others. I also found that it's just about impossible to avert mold in a washing machine because you're providing what it likes: warm water, an enclosed, dark space, food (in the detergent and the stuff that comes from your clothes when you wash). So I decided that I'd take the light bulb out of the door on the Neptune and leave it open all the time so that it can dry out. I also decided that the second I smelled mold growing, I'd run through a load of hot water with a lot of bleach in it. I also decided that both of these would probably be fruitless.

My next course of action will be to invite over some of the smartest folks I know who have a mechanical aptitude (Chris Anderson, Mike Zintel, Jason Zander, maybe a few others) and have an anti-mold party. We'd look at the design of the Neptune and see what we'd do differently and what we can do within the existing design to prevent the growth of mold. I'll consider it an engineering test.