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Blue Stains Showing Up on Washed Clothing

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All of my white cotton clothes have started turning an aqua shade of blue after being washed in my washing machine. I also have this same color in my tub and shower. A neighbor told me it's the copper water pipes that cause the discoloration. CLR gets the tub and shower clean, but nothing I've tried (bleach, Oxi-Clean, Borax) gets the stains out of my clothing!

By Marcy from Aberdeen, NC


Recent Answers

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By Becky09/20/2010

Any kind of detergent, chlorine bleach, ammonia, borax, or oxygen cleaner binds the copper blue in the water to fabric in the laundry. If you fill the tub with water and detergent and agitate to mix before adding the laundry, things will get a uniform bluish cast, rather than dark areas where the water runs onto concentrated detergent on the laundry. The loger you wash a load, the more copper is laid into the fabric. Even the products (white vinegar, Calgon) suggested by a university extention site did not work. THe ONLY thing that did work was an old bottle of The Works (not the one put out by Clorox) but by HomeCare Labs. THe active ingredient was phosphoric acid. THe formulation has been changed now and it doesn't work as well. THe old formula completely removed the blue from a colored linen/rayon blouse and did not damage the fabric in any way. I don't know where you can get phosphoric acid for home use, but I suppose it's been replaced because of environmental concerns. We're renting an old house while ours is being built. I'll have to toss our copper laced towels, sheets, underwear, socks, etc when we move. Bummer!

By elcocopeli06/16/2010

The linking factors for blue clothing seem to be:
1) Tide liquid detergent (or P&G liquid detergent products)
2) Soft water
For what it's worth, I've noticed more immediate blue staining on brand new synthetic white fabrics than older cotton whites.

By courtney04/19/2010

I am going to go with the fact that it is laundry soap. In the past I have had problems with this. For months I've been using Purex free & clear detergent, and the other day I had my husband pick up some laundry soap and he brought home just some regular Purex that is blue. Well, of course loads later when I go to pick out clothes I notice these horrible stains. Ooooh, it makes you so aggravated! I'm going to try the Vinegar and water solution to hopefully remove the stains. I think running an extra rinse cycle might help as well as not putting in as much detergent. I know I'm going to go back to the Purex free & clear and never look back.

By Sarah02/23/2010

I have posted before and still have blue water, but no longer get spots in my laundry. I changed the anode rod in the hot water heater and the blue dots went away. I still have blue water, but the anode rod must be taking the 'edge' off the copper level. The City of Raleigh tested my water at multiple points inside and out and the report said the copper levels were normal. I had an electrician test the grounding on the house and that was fine (bad grounding can cause electrolysis of copper pipes and create the blue water). I had a plumber check for mixed metals at faucet housings and I didn't have any of that.

Now I know in a few years to change the anode rod again or the blue spots will be back. The anode rod costs about $50 for my hot water heater. Also, try not to add Oxi-Clean and other items that create oxidation in the water. That makes the blue dots worse because blue release from the pipes comes from oxidation, so adding these items to the laundry exacerbates the water condition.

By Louise B. [4]02/21/2010

Just a thought, if CLR gets the stains out of the tub, why don't you try vinegar in the wash? They are both acids; it may do the trick, and you can use it all the time.

By Pamela Moore [3]02/21/2010

Get some Rid color remover and use it to get the color out. I've used it several times on all colored clothes that had stains like that. Another thing I found when I wash my clothes on gently cycle is to add another rinse cycle. Sometimes liquid detergent will not completely come out with just one rinse.


Here are questions related to Blue Stains Showing Up on Washed Clothing.

Question: Blue Spots Appear on Pink Clothing When Washed

When I wash pink or coral clothing, even separately, dark spots often appear on them; the spots look blue or back in color. Why? How do I remove the spots?



Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

Archive: Blue Stains Showing Up on Washed Clothing

I have blue stains on light clothing, washed with Tide and Downy. These are pieces I wear regularly and am a bit devastated at the thought that they seem ruined. Is there any way to remove these stains? They are not white. One is yellow, one lime green, and one peach. Will Biz or Clorox 2 work? Please advise.


RE: Blue Stains Showing Up on Washed Clothing

I used Gain. One person said that took it out for them, and it didn't for me. I'm going to try the less detergent and no fabric softener and adding some vinegar. I agree with the one person who thinks it's the well water. I have the blue spots but sometimes mine are just a darkish spot. I have used crud cutter from Walmart but it's a little costly. It does remove the spots, but I didn't find that adding it to the entire load stopped the spots from ruining my clothes. (11/29/2008)

By Laurie/ Florida

RE: Blue Stains Showing Up on Washed Clothing

It is possibly caused by failure of a blue coloring in detergent, laundry aid, or fabric softener to dissolve or disperse. If caused by a detergent or powdered laundry aid, add 1 cup (240 ml) of white vinegar to 1 quart (.95L) of water. Use a plastic container. Soak item for one hour; rinse.

If caused by fabric softener, rub stains with bar soap, wash. (01/17/2009)

RE: Blue Stains Showing Up on Washed Clothing

I have the blue stains intermittently like everyone. No blue detergent, no fabric softener ever used, have not used toilet cleaners in 20 yrs, no well water (all city water), spots show after the washer (dryer is no different), happened on old and new washer (washer hoses only 8 mos old). I use TIDE FREE HE and previously TIDE FREE 2x and had the problem. The City of Raleigh says my water PH is 8.7SU.

I've had the anode (that is the device that pulls heavy metals from your water so it doesn't wreck the H/W heater) checked in the hot water heater and it appears to be working fine (only 7 yrs old). The white top that got the stains had very little contact with my skin when I wore it so I don't think it is a chemical reaction to something on me. Every time I try to recreate the problem testing with hot, warm, cold water, Tide, no Tide, I cannot recreate the problem, it just happens intermittently until...

Then it happened while hand washing a white garment in 2 gallons of warm water with a Target brand of mild soap (like Woolite) and had sprayed spots with Spray 'N' Wash. There they were, those blue dots. The city of Raleigh is testing my water for copper and lead feedback yet. I now have little blue stains on the metal of my white washing machine. I had wet kitchen dish cloths sitting there when they were dirty. I also tend to lay cloths out on the top of washing machine when I spray them with Spray 'N' Wash.

So now I have ordered a replacement for the anode rod in the hot water tank. The hot water heater manufacturer says maybe the anode rod is used up because it is very, very pitted. Hopefully, that will take care of it. There is some chemical reaction going on that's making these blue dots on cotton and metal washing machines! (08/17/2009)

By markssj

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