Blue Stains Showing Up on Washed Clothing

October 1, 2006

Picture of a red striped shirt in a washer.I have a mystery that perhaps someone else has discovered the answer to.

Periodically when I wash a load of clothes, some of the clothing will come out with blue dye stains scattered around. No pen in the load. No blue item that could have bled.


I changed from the blue fragrance Downy to a green fragrance and nothing changed. The only other thing I could find in common was that I was using Era detergent, which is blue. So I changed to a Tide detergent that is clear. I assumed I was free and clear of this period hassle.

But nope. I just found a fairly new light blue blouse with the same blue stains randomly scattered all over it.

I'd appreciate the answer if anyone has one.

Jubi from Nebraska


Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

That has been happening to me to. Do you have soft water? I never noticed it before I did, but it causes a lot of clothes to bleed, even if they are supposed to be colorfast. You could try flushing the fabric softener dispenser, if you have one on your machine. I don't use fabric softener, but they can collect pigments, and leftover soap, and such. I hope this helps. Good luck! (02/10/2005)


By annabelle

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

Sounds like something is "behind" the tub part of the washer. I'd call an appliance store and ask them how to check behind it. Hope this helps. (02/11/2005)

By Diana

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

I've had that happen too and realized it was the fabric softener (which was a light blue liquid), which did not distribute properly -- not a fun discovery when doing a 'white' load. (02/12/2005)

By SDfriend

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

This might be mineral deposits. My boyfriend has his water coming from a well. No real filtration. I put a scoop of Oxyclean in every load of laundry. It costs a little more but with the kind of money I spend on my clothes it is a real savings in the long run. He was amazed at how clean and bright his towels and t-shirts look. Even his dad after suffering with this for thirty years is amazed at the look of his white linen table clothes (antiques). (06/23/2005)


By Sunny

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

You most likely have copper water pipes and this is causing the green\blue stains. We have the same problem.
We have found that if you soak the stained clothes in vinegar and water the stains will come out. We are looking into a small water softener system just for the washing machine. (11/20/2005)

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

I have lost at least $800 in clothes in the last 3 years. Many times it will not occur for weeks or months and then 1 load will be loaded with the blue stains. My 3 year old dryer has evidence of the blue stains burnt onto the drum.

I heard a rumor that the problem could be caused by the BLUE automatic toilet bowl cleaners. The claim was that as these tablets dissolve, some of the blue dye seep back into the plumbing if the seal for the incoming connections to the tank were not tight. The blue stuff settles down to lowest part of the plumbing and then the next water draw would carry this stuff to that location.


It sounded like a long shot but I was willing to try anything so I stopped using the blue tablets and it seemed that the problem subsided. However recently I have started to see the problem again even though I stopped using the Blue cleaner for more than a year.

I use a water softener and have a whole house filter to accommodate my hard, iron-rich well water. I am now thinking that this problem is related to the water composition or corrosion in the pipes. I plan on installing some type of inline filter just in front of the washing machine in order to purify the water just before it enters the machine. At least I should be able to see what gets picked up in the filter. (02/23/2006)

By victorb

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

I believe that the blue staining is from the dryer. When I see the blue stains on clothes after a dry cycle I put them back in the washer and they are gone but when I dry them again they appear again. The dryer drum has a blue stain on the it and I believe that its from washing the blue jeans over the years. Blue jeans give off a dark blue dye especially when new and I think that after a few years the dye eventually bakes onto the dryer drum and every so often transfers onto a load of clothes in the dryer.


I've heard that you can soak some old white towel with 1 or 2 cups of bleach and the rest with water to soak up the towel and run it in the dryer, repeating the process until you don't see the blue dye on the towel anymore. I've had my dryer for about 4 yrs. and just recently started to notice the problem so I've been researching for a solution. I haven't had the chance to try this yet, but I plan to asap. Let me know if anyone else tries and the result. Thanks, hope it help me & you. (03/22/2006)

By Anna

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

I think my husband and I may have found the cause tonight. We've had this exact thing happen at our house for years - random blue streaks and stains in our clothing. Sometimes I can get it out with Clorox 2, or at least lighten it. We've been stumped because we use white powder Tide, no fabric softener in the wash, we have a water softener, city water, blah blah. I always have used powder detergent because my mom said that liquid always gave her clothes blue spots so tonight my husband suggested it might be Shout spray.


It's blue, it's liquid, we rub it into stains, and we only use it occasionally. Tomorrow I'm going to find a clear stain remover and hopefully the problem will stop. It's really frustrating to have this keep happening on school and work clothes, so I hope we have found our solution. (04/09/2006)

By Jenny

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

Sadly, we have the same quirky problem. Things I know for sure... It happened in our old washer and dryer and now we have a new dryer and washer and yet the problems persist. We do not use any blue toilet bowl cleaner. It happened in our old house with a large metro city water supply as well as our brand new house with a small town city water supply. One common thing I see... Tide detergent. Here's an incident to deepen the mystery. Today, after several months in a row with no blue splotches, they reappeared. They were WORSE on the INSIDE of the shirts than the outside of the shirts. I hope someone solves this mystery soon. I can't afford to keep buying my family new clothes. (05/05/2006)

By Jan

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

I am so glad to hear that we're not alone! This is such a frustrating problem. I really think it is the dryer because I can rewash clothes or soak them and the stains come out. We have a water softener, don't use fabric softener, changed from Tide to All, and don't use blue toilet bowl cleaner and yet the problem persists. I think the dyes from laundry build up on the dryer drum and need to be cleaned periodically. I have tried wiping the drum out with a white rag and the blue comes off on the rag. If I do that after a load of dark colors, I don't have a problem on the next load. (05/25/2006)

By Monica

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

Could be acidic water (water w/ pH <6.5). I have the same problem and I have well water. Oxyclean works well, though. (05/28/2006)

<p class="art">By guest

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

We are extremely frustrated with the blue stain problem. After reading all of the feedback, it sounds like most people have water softeners (we do) and have high mineral content in their water (we do). It also sounds like oxiclean might help. I'm going to stop using blue detergent, clean out my dryer drum and use oxiclean. I'll let you know how it goes. Blue stained show up about once every 2-3 weeks - of course only on white clothing and towels. (05/31/2006)

By June Moncrief

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

I had blue spots on my clothes and I narrowed it down to being the washer. I put stainless steel hoses on the back where it connects to the faucets. No more blue spots! (06/19/2006)

By guest

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

IT'S THE SHOUT. Seriously. I just figured it out reading all these posts and looking at the blue stain that ruined my favorite pink shirt, wondering about where these occasional horrid blue stains come from and then it hit me, I recognize the pattern. IT'S SHOUT. We have a water softener. Maybe the two together produce some bad effect, we use arm and hammer and we use borax for washing, that is is. SHOUT! (07/06/2006)

By hpike

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

We had this problem and finally figured out it was coming from the dryer drum being stained. Every so often khaki pants, colored and white clothes would come out with blue streaks and we could not figure it out until we saw the inside of a new dryer and noticed that it was white. Our 7 year old dryer was blue. We figured it out. So we tried goof off, which worked but was too strong and toxic. Plus we figured it might catch on fire if we used too much.

So we next tried clorox clean-up, fantastik heavy duty cleaner and window cleaner. None worked. One day while at Sears buying hoses for our washer we asked a representative if she could help with our dryer dilemma and she recommended using Cleaning Cream for Smooth Top Ranges. It worked, with a little elbow grease. My hubby is doing most of the cleaning.

We recommend doing small sections at a time. We just started yesterday and we are almost finished. When we are done we plan to clean it often especially after washing dark clothing. Hope this helps anyone who has not found a solution yet. (07/30/2006)

By tee472

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

I have found the only time I have this problem is when using downy fabric softener. I stop using it and the problem stops. (09/12/2006)

By Lisa

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5 Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

February 16, 2010

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


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February 21, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

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.

February 23, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

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.

April 19, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

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.

June 16, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

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.

September 20, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

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!

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January 21, 2018

I have a front load washer and extremely hard water. I just recently started using borax in my washer. I have had 2 or 3 white under tee shirts that have this crystalized blue powder on the shirt.

I ruined the first shirt trying to pull the shirt apart and placed a hole in it. What is this and what should I do?


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January 26, 20180 found this helpful

I have a question, well, a couple of them if I may.

Did you use any fabric softener also in the washer's dispenser?

If so, it sounds like the crystalized blue powder on the shirt, is
the borax that didn't dissolve, mixed together with the fabric softener - possibly?

And at which point did you add the borax?

I just read something about this, not that I have the answer, but,
it could or might be the reason. What I'd read was to add the borax into the washing machines tub (before adding clothes) and to use warm or hot water for your wash, as cold water could or might not dissolve the borax powder as efficiently.

I hope something here can help you figure this mystery of
how the crystalized powder got on the white tee shirts to begin with.

January 27, 20180 found this helpful

Do it

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

February 16, 2010

I have blue stains on light clothing, washed with Tide and Downy. Is there any way to remove these stains?


November 7, 2008
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