Review of Affresh Washing Machine Cleaner

A Cleaner That Contains Boric Acid

Box of Affresh Washer Cleaner.
Karen Peltier

Affresh products are made by Whirlpool Corporation, which is one of the leading manufacturing and marketing companies of appliances worldwide, including well-known brands, such as Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amana, Brastemp, Consul, Bauknecht and more. Other products in the Affresh product line include washing machine, stainless steel, cooktop, and kitchen cleaners.

Affresh washing machine cleaner is easy to use and does a great job deep cleaning washing machines and eliminating odors, but it contains boric acid—a dangerous chemical often used as a pesticide.

About Affresh Washing Machine Cleaner

Affresh is a scent-free tablet sold in sets of six tablets for about $6.00. It contains sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate, sodium carbonate, and boric acid.

Pros

  • effectiveness: Removes odors and residues very well
  • environmental friendliness: Biodegradable product and packaging
  • price: Competitive price; approximately $1 per cleaning (based on price for 6-tablet package)
  • sizes: 6-packet pouch currently available; 3-packet box coming soon

Cons

  • certifications: None
  • company transparency: Ingredients are not fully revealed on product packaging
  • ingredients: Boric acid is a safety concern

Product Directions

This product is quite easy to use and is recommended for monthly maintenance. In an empty washing machine, simply place a tablet directly in the machine, not the detergent cup, and run the machine on "normal" using the hottest water possible. If your machine has a "clean washer" cycle, use that setting instead. For machines with particularly bad odors, the manufacturer suggests running three consecutive cycles using one tablet per each cycle. When the cycle is complete, wipe away any remaining residue.

Product Effectiveness

This product is a breeze to use and is very effective at reducing mineral and soap scum build-up leaving the interior of the washing machine clean, shiny, and odor-free. It may be effective at removing or reducing mold.

Health & Safety

With regard to the ingredients—which are not fully listed on the product label, but are on the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) — boric acid stands out as a safety concern because it is considered of moderate acute toxicity. Unfortunately, whether it is a highly concentrated ingredient in the product or not is difficult to tell. The other two ingredients don't raise any red flags with regard to safety and health effects.

Under normal usage, this product does not appear to have any adverse health effects according to the product MSDS. However, upon direct contact with the eyes, it can cause redness, burning, and watering. Repeated contact with the skin can cause problems, such as a skin rash. In addition, breathing in dust from the product can irritate the respiratory tract resulting in symptoms, such as coughing. Also, the MSDS notes that ingesting the product may be harmful.

First-aid measures noted on the MSDS and the product label differ slightly in some cases. If eye contact occurs, the directions on the packaging note to flush the eyes with water for 15 minutes. In addition, the MSDS notes to contact an ophthalmologist. If swallowed, the MSDS recommends drinking two glasses of water or milk immediately and then seeking medical attention. The label doesn't mention anything about drinking liquids but suggests to immediately contact a Poison Control Center or doctor. If skin contact occurs, rinsing well with water is recommended on the product label; whereas the MSDS suggests using soap and water and then a moisturizing cream if needed for dryness. If any irritation persists, seeking medical attention is suggested. Finally, the MSDS notes that if excessive amounts of product dust are inhaled, to get fresh air and seek medical attention if a cough or other symptoms develop. Vomiting is not recommended.

The MSDS states that once this product is decomposed, what remains is much less toxic to fish than the product itself. Also, it does not bioaccumulate in the environment.

This product is safe for septic systems according to the manufacturer.