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Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

I keep getting "grease" marks on freshly laundered clothes. The stains aren't there when I put the clothes in. I only notice them when the clothes are dry and I am about to iron them. They are always round dark coloured spots that look like grease. Machine is top loader and two years old.


Seasider from Australia


Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

This used to happen to me all the time. Do you use liquid detergent and pour it on top of the clothes? That's what was doing it to me. Now, the first thing I do is start the washer and as it is filling up I pour in the soap and let it mix with the water and then start adding the clothes. I have never had the "grease spot" problem again. Hope this helps! (05/05/2008)

By Tara

Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

I had the same problem and discovered that it was the washing machines small drain holes on the side of the bowl. Because I always wash in cold water, apparently body fats don't dissolve. My washing machine instructions say you should regularly put hot water through machine to dissolve fats. Augh. Anyway, it did work for me. (05/06/2008)

By Dhanielle Pink

Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

I have too been plagued by the grease stains on my clothes. I was just recently told this is a common problem with Maytag machines (mine is not a Maytag) and that it is caused by a buildup somewhere in the machine. I was told to put 1/2 to 3/4 cup of dishwashing powder, where you put the laundry soap then run it EMPTY on your highest temperature, largest load. Try this 3-4 times then see if the spots are removed in subsequent loads. I have just tried this so here's to hoping this works. (08/10/2008)

By Plagued by Grease Spots

Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

I have had this problem for years and discovered the answer (for me anyway) one day by accident. I accidentally poured the liquid laundry detergent right on a good shirt and those drip marks remained. I have never been able to get them out! If anyone knows how to get out liquid laundry detergent stains, I would like to know. I am going to try Dawn dish soap. (08/27/2008)


By Janis

Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

Just read this at - I was thrilled to find a solution. They say their Spectrum Cleaner and Degreaser gets these stains. I'm going to order and see if it works.

Dryer Sheet Stains

Dryer sheets can leave a stain on dark colored clothing - this looks like oil spots and only show up after drying. This seems to be caused by the chemicals reacting with material. Spray a heavy mixture directly on spots, thoroughly working it in, then wash garment. To aid in preventing this, try turning the clothing item inside out. (09/21/2008)

By Andrea

Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

I read one or two of these postings out loud to my wife, and she suddenly said, "I know what it is! It's the concentrated detergent!". She believes we started seeing grease-like stains around the same time that we started using concentrated detergent. Seems to me like that just may be the culprit! (10/04/2008)

By Mark in AL

Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

I just moved to an apartment and started using the washing machines when I started getting dark / greasy spots on all my clothes - white and colors. I'm beginning to think it's the fabric softener, because there used to be a separate slot for fabric softener in the previous machines I used. With the older washing machines in the apartment, you have to pour it directly on the clothes. I've probably been adding too much also, resulting in stains all over my clothes. What I'm wondering is whether these stains will come off in time..hopefully. (10/04/2008)

By Elie

Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

Dawn worked for me. Not the liquid fabric softener as we have never used it. Will try smaller loads. (11/02/2008)

By Lynn

Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

If the washing machine is HE (High Efficiency) it is most likely the detergent. Many of the name
brand detergents are made with animal fats and these do not dissolve completely in the HE machines. As a result, oil stains end up on the clothes and towels will have a musty odor.

I recommend the HE detergent from Amway because, it is not made with animal fats and dissolves completely in the new machines. It has worked for others I know with HE machines. (12/02/2008)

By Sue

Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

After 2 years I finally solved my greasy stain problem. I tried everything I see posted here. nothing worked. Finally, I removed the liquid softener dispenser that sits directly on top of the agitator and was amazed at the accumulation of lint, hair, and other debris that had accumulated in various parts of the dispenser. It took an hour with a toothbrush, q-tips, etc. to clean all the buildup out. These little balls of gunk were absorbing the softener and would throw this residual softener onto the clothes as a result of centrifugal force in the spin cycle. I ran a load right after I cleaned the dispenser, and lo and behold, no more grease spots. (12/10/2008)

By Paul D.

Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

I have the same problem try putting a product called Goo Gone on the stains and then washing. Sometimes I have to wash them twice but it always gets them out. (12/28/2008)

Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

One of the major causes of this is ordinary grease. When you get grease on clothing, it tends to sit on the surface of the clothes and not spread out. (It is all about temperature and surface tension and absorption of dry fabrics). In a nutshell the problem is that HE machines either don't have enough water to liberate all the grease and/or the HE detergent doesn't have enough oil liberating agents. They are called surfactants; they are what cause suds for the most part.

The grease can come from cooking, your body, and millions of other routine activities including other clothing in the wash and the washer itself. Usually natural fabrics, specially cotton, are the worst for this. It is something that all the "green" folks don't bother to tell you. You will often have to wash things twice, wasting more electricity and the same amount of water as your conventional washer.


Because detergent manufacturers haven't done anything to fix this problem, they apparently are happy with us using twice the detergent. Some people have said that you can use lye and/or borax (borax makes hydrogen peroxide when mixed with water) to assist in removing oils but I have no experience with that, so based on my experience, besides living with it you only have the following remedies:

  1. Add or use a detergent with a very high amount of "grease fighters". Dish soap being one example. Problem with this is the extra suds may void your warranty and/or wreck the pump on your machine. This may not work since water can only "hold" so much grease and if you pass that threshold, no more grease will come out of your clothes.

  2. Wash things that have grease stains again applying a spot-treatment, like Spray-N-Wash to each of the stain locations.

  3. Switch your washing machine back to the non HE variety.

  4. Get rid of all your "natural" fabric clothing and only go with synthetic fabrics (nylon, Lycra, rayon, etc.)

By Robert

Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

We've discovered that government water tanks here are so contaminated that they had to close it down for maintenance for two weeks. That's where the dirty spots came from, greasy water!

I've also boiled these clothes as our washing machine does not have a warm water function and they have all disappeared. Do your washing machines have hot water cycles? (02/13/2009)

By Elle

Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

My original post on this subject was back on 12/6/2008. During the past month, I have been washing ALL my clothes in warm water (warm water/cold rinse). It might be my imagination, but it seems like this has helped the problem. My guess is that the warm water helps to dissolve the soap better. I'm very careful when doing colors in warm. I make sure to wash all the blacks and reds together and the light colors in another load. So far, my clothes have turned out fine. I would love to find out if this works for anyone else. (02/26/2009)

By Parkesse

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