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Washing Machine Staining Clothing

A woman looking at a stain on a shirt.
Trying to identify the cause of mysterious stains on laundered clothing can be frustrating, especially when they weren't there before washing. This is a guide about washing machine staining clothing.


Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
August 6, 2009

I have a 2 year old Kenmore Oasis top load washer. Over the past year or so my husband's white tee shirts and shorts have been coming out of the wash with mysterious light brown stains, like oil stains. I don't use bleach on them, even though the label says I can use non-chlorine bleach. I wash them with Arm and Hammer liquid. I always put the soap into the dispenser.


I would think if the soap were the cause the stains would be blotchy. While there are a few blotches, there are also stains that appear as though the staining agent had been drizzled on the shirt. The stains will not wash out. Last week my husband put seven tee shirts, all less than a year old, in the rag bag because they were too stained to wear. I don't believe it is the water because we have a water softener.

By leep1 from Lake City, FL

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
June 4, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

This has happened to me twice over the years and both times it was oil leaks from the washer and it needed servicing. It was the oil seal that needed replacing.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
April 17, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

Yes, I too have been very confused as to what my husband does with his beautiful white singlets. They look like he has wiped his dusty car down with them. Turns out it is commonly known as "SCUD" which builds up inside you washing machine, usually because of using fabric softeners. I have tried all the treatments recommended, but alas, nothing really seems to work. The SCUD is way down in parts of the machine you cant get to and results in these brown stains on your white clothing. I am buying a new machine and never using fabric softener again!

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August 6, 20090 found this helpful

Take one of the rag bag shirts and try "Bar Keepers Friend" on the spots and see if it comes out. I make a paste of the stuff and rub it on the stain. If you rinse it out and the stain is gone - it's rust. It's sold with the powered Comet and type of products. If it's rust then you have to start looking at the washer. Good luck!

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January 18, 20100 found this helpful

This is caused most likely by fabric softener. I have a top loading Maytag and I noticed there is a buildup of black gunk in the fabric softener dispenser in the top of the agitator. It happens only when I used the hot water cycle. I ran a vinegar/baking soda solution through the machine and it appears to have cleared up. I was stymied for a year trying to find out where the black smudges were coming from on my white laundry, which is what I mainly wash with hot water.

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December 18, 20130 found this helpful

I can't believe someone else has the same problem. My husbands white t shirts and dress shirts come out with brown spots usually on the front or back of his shirts. You can't get them out. No one can explain why this is happening. I don't use softner in my washer. My washer is top load. I use Arm & Hammer, but that doesn't mean anything because previous name brand soaps do the same. It doesn't show on colored clothing...very perplexed. I haven't seen an answer yet...waiting!

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June 17, 2016

I'm hoping someone here can help me with a solution to my washing machine issue! I've had it a few months and ever since day one it's been leaving random marks/stains on my dark colours.


They look like bleach marks to me, but I don't use any in the machine. I've tried to lower the temperature, not use the built in dryer, and now have thrown out my old liquid to try another brand. But still the stains appear and as you can see they ruin my clothes.

I'm out of ideas, can anyone here give me any insight into my problem?

Thanks for any help.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
June 17, 20160 found this helpful

Did you get it new? Is it under warranty? What is the maker?

I wonder if you can't contact the maker and ask if they've ever heard of this and what to do.

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June 17, 20160 found this helpful

It's an Indesit machine I purchased new from AO so it should be under warranty. I've sent Indesit an email and am waiting a reply.

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June 18, 20160 found this helpful

Okay. I just never heard of that, if you've never used bleach in it. Because that does look like bleach. Maybe somebody else here has had this problem.

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June 18, 20160 found this helpful

I've been using the Eco mode on the machine and I've been told this may not been rinsing the clothes enough, so will try using the full wash to see.

Thanks for the replies.

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July 11, 20130 found this helpful

I have a 2 year old top loader washing machine and lately I have noted that I get what appear to be bleach spots on clothing without using bleach. I use Omo powder and I pour it in the fill nozzle. Can you help please?

By Virginia

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
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