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Blue Stains Showing Up on Washed Clothing

It can be hard to figure out why there are mysterious blue marks when your clothes come out of the washer. This is a guide about blue stains showing up on washed 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
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


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.

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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.

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April 19, 20100 found this helpful
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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.

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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.

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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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By 0 found this helpful
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?


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.

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January 27, 20180 found this helpful

Do it

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February 16, 20100 found this helpful

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.



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

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)

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 Sarah

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November 7, 20080 found this helpful

Does anyone know what causes those "blue stains" on laundry when they are washed and dried? I don't know if they are coming from the washer or the dryer. I have ran things through the wash for the first time and get blue spots on them and then viola!, they are stained for life and ruined. I heard it can be caused by fabric softener or dryer sheets, but I don't know if that's the case. Can anyone help me?

Frank from Louisville, KY


Stains Use Shout Color Catchers in Washer

When I wash several differ color tops, I use shout color catcher in washing machine, with good results. Put shout it out on stain first then put shout color catcher in washer, let washer fill up and then put clothes in washer. (10/02/2006)

by Sue

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

I hear it is from using too much detergent, I have this happen all the time but since I have been using less detergent I have not had it happen at all! (10/02/2006)

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

I have that happen a lot, I asked my in laws, who own a dry cleaner, they said I am using too much detergent. I have been using less and have not had the blue spots return. (10/02/2006)

By Linda

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

This had me curious and I found this on the cleaning 101 website.

Problem: Blue Stains


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.

Preventive Measures:

Add product first, then clothes and start washer.

Dilute fabric softener before adding to wash or rinse cycle, or to dispenser.

By Mary

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

I've had this a few times. I happened to be using Liquid Tide at the time. Also we have very hard water. I tried vinegar to get them out, but no luck. I don't use fabric softener so my only thought is that it had to do with the reaction of the Tide to our hard water. I've been using powdered detergent from Costco and have had no problems. (10/16/2006)

By Robin

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

Well I have to say, I have read all of the comments written here, I have the same problem, and I'm all the way in Perth Western Australia. and have come to the conclusion, that for me its NOT the dryer, I don't use one, Its NOT the fabric softener, I dont use that either, so I'm down to trying less powder in the machine, wish me luck!- Carol (10/28/2006)

By Carol A Holliday

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

I read some info on this site and I can't believe it worked! I have ruined many articles of clothing or so I thought. The blue spots are from too much laundry detergent so I cut it in half. I haven't been getting spots anymore. Then I proceeded to soak some of the clothes I had previously ruined in a cup of vinegar to a half gallon of water and they came clean! I couldn't believe it but am so happy to know you can find answers on these types of websites. (11/01/2006)

By Jill

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

If you have found that softener is causing your blue spot problem, switch to white vinegar. One cup at rinse cycle or just put in your rinse dispenser, & your clothes come out nice & soft. Plus your towels will be more absorbent after your shower or bath !

I also put 1 cup of vinegar in my wash cycle w/very little detergent. You really only need about a third of the "recommended" amount anyway. They just want you to use more to buy more! Then about every 10 washes I use only Borax, or something like it, & the vinegar, to get all the built up soap residue out.
Good luck all! (12/04/2006)

By Nanci-San Diego

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

*POSSIBLE EXPLANATION* I have been finding blue spots randomly all over anything white that comes out of the laundry. Straight away i assumed that it was my washing machine which worried me as it was practically new. I had a peek on this forum and noticed that everyone seemed to have one thing in common - that they used "Tide." As they do not produce Tide in the UK, where I live, I checked out who the manufacturer was and it appears to be a company called Proctor & Gamble (P&G).

I use Fairy Non Bio and surprise surprise, the manufacturers appear to be... wait for it... Proctor and Gamble. I have listed all Proctor and Gamble products below, so you may want to avoid using these products in future!
UK Products: Ace, Ariel, Fairy, Bold, Bounce, Daz, Dreft, Lenor
US Products: Tide, Bounce, Cheer, Downy, Dreft, Era, Febreze, Gain, Ivory.

Karen (02/12/2007)

By Karen

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

This is not our washers or dryers! It is something new they are adding to the detergents. It may be that bleach alternative chemical they use now. It happened first with Cheer, I switched to Tide, happened again, switched to a cheap store brand and it happened again! But, I found something that took my blue stains out, long after they showed up too.

Best of all, it will cost you only a dollar at Dollar General, or perhaps other dollar stores as well. It is called Brawn Oxy Burst Multi-Purpose Cleaner. In a blue spray bottle. Works wet or dry, may take more than one application (I soak the fabric with it), may take overnight with more applications the second day. But I got results on everything that had been stained. Also used the same stuff on coffee stains on floor mats, took them out as I watched it soak in. Great stuff! Hope it helps you all too! (02/25/2007)

By Lyn Croasmun

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

I have found it to be the liquid fabric softener. I have a front loading washer & when I would use the liquid softener in the dispenser it would leave blue stains. I had the repair man out for the washer & he said it was the liquid. I didn't believe him until I quit using it & the stains quit showing up! I was using blue liquid downy. (03/03/2007)

By Stacy

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

I am so glad that I am not the only one that has experienced blue stains. I thought at first just like everyone else it was the fabric softener so of course I stopped using it and the stains still appeared. What I have found that takes it out is the detergent by Ivory for babies. I actually called Downy and that is what they recommended. (04/25/2007)

By 4tothesand

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

I asked a friend about it, she said she uses Gain, I tried it several weeks ago, I love it, the clothes are clean, they smell great and NO BLUE SPOTS. I not going back to Tide. (06/10/2007)

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

In most cases the blue stains on whites in laundry is caused by oxidized copper sloughing from the copper pipes in your home. The increased copper release can be caused by several things: increased water flow, water temperature changes, water chemistry changes, etc. One way to help avoid the staining on whites is to add some sequestering agent with the wash; such as Oxyclean, or clear vinegar might help. Most of the time the blue stains are not caused by colored detergents or other additives. (08/17/2007)

By Dave

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

I believe it is Tide. I had the same problem for a very long time, I changed to Gain about 3 months ago and have not had one stain since. (08/17/2007)

By Sellington

Blue Stains from Tags on new clothes

I just had this happen to a new cream colored sweater. I have not had this happen for about 10 years. My sister says it happens to her all the time, and she thought it was the fabric softener for sure.
I know she was disappointed because it always seemed to ruin new clothes. I noticed this happens a lot with NEW clothes...even in this thread. Ever wonder why manufacturer's put dark colored tags on light colored clothes? I think the blue stains come from the tags on new clothes. (01/23/2008)

By Sandi

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

Okay, here's another idea. Do any of you use powdered mineral make-up? I just washed a load (didn't dry it yet) and found more spots on a white sweater and entwined with two of the spots were tiny, little pieces of black "bristle" (like the little pieces of "bristle" my make-up brush that came with my powdered mineral make-up often leaves on my face when I apply the make-up). I pulled these little pieces of bristles (1/16-1/4") right out of the blue spots! One spot was even the same length and shape as the bristle that came from it. This would explain why the spots are almost always on my clothes and almost always on the fronts of my clothes! (04/19/2008)

By Jan

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

I seriously don't think it has anything to do with the kind of washer you use. My washer and dryer are both a good 15 years old. I've had this problem on and off for several years using mainly Purex with bleach alternative. We recently switched to the concentrated Purex and its really awful. My white towels, socks and lights are the worst. I'm convinced its the newer super-concentrated blue detergents. I'm going to use vinegar in my f.s. dispenser when I put the detergent in I'm going to mix it into the water with my hand thoroughly. That stuff just lays there in the water when you put it in. (05/11/2008)

By Jana H.

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

I got a white logo golf shirt in a place that I'll never be going to again - a valued memento! The first time I washed it - YES in Tide 2x - the dreaded blue botches were present before it was dried. There was no softener, just Tide 2x. I tried all the tricks on this blog, Yahoo answers, etc., with little luck. Oxy-clean paste and soaking had a small effect. Getting more desperate - Clorox bleach pen (carefully rinsing after each application) reduced but didn't eliminate the blotches. I noticed that the Clorox-bleached areas were yellowish and seemed to have a substance in the fabric even though not blue any more.

CONCLUSION: There is something in the new clothes, like sizing, and Tide is using a bluing that permanently colors it.

SOLUTION: How much do you want these items white again? I put the damp shirt on a hanger, took it out to the wash line and sprayed it all over with good-ol' bleach from a spray bottle (carefully avoiding the precious logo). After five minutes I used a garden hose with a pressure nozzle to wash it out again. Spraying full force from the inside actually dislodged the sizing, which had turned purple from the bleach even in areas without the Tide blotches. After three repetitions the blue and the purple spots were gone so I put the wet shirt into the washer for a rinse and spin. Now that I understand what's going on, I think it might have worked even better if I'd pressure washed some of the sizing out before bleaching.

PREVENTION: Never use a P&G product again if I can help it. They've been pestered about this for years and won't even admit it happens, when they could be helping people get their clothes back to being wearable. Wash new clothes with dye-free products for a while. Mix blue products into the water before adding clothes. (05/17/2008)

By Mika

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

Is it possible that some chemical from an individuals body is interacting with either the chemicals in the detergent and or the water that is causing the stains? Like for example some mineral or vitamin or medication (like an antibiotic) that might be excreted by the skin, then absorbed into your clothes fabric? Isn't that the most likely scenario?

That some chemical from your body, gets into the clothing fibers and interacts differently and only occasionally with some other chemical; and in only certain circumstances, such as...temperature of the wash, certain acidity of the water that day, or copper piping, and some ubiquitous or common chemical in a detergent.

We need a chemist or a biologist, or maybe a doctor, or someone familiar with skin chemistry to make a guess at this. This seems exactly like the kind of problem that lags on and on, until someone puts the pieces together. (07/26/2008)

By adrianw

Blue Stains Showing Up On Washed Clothing

I sent an email to SC Johnson & Company because they make a product called "Color Catcher". The light pink tee shirt that I had purchased was made in Guatemala was 100% cotton, carried the White Stag Brand and was sold at Wal-Mart. There were no special care instructions with it. As you will see, SC Johnson mentions "imported 100% cotton".

Apparently this has been going on for some time because why would a manufacturer like SC Johnson create this product? They realized that there was a problem and therefore would be a demand for it.
Here is SC Johnson's answer:

Thank you for asking about Shout® Color Catcher. Our product has been around since 2002 to absorb and trap loose dyes in the wash.

Many garments today are "non-colorfast", with label clues like: wash in cold water, wash separately, wash with deep color dyes, imported 100% cottons or silks. We recommend you carefully read label directions before laundering any items, and especially those labeled as above.

For more information on our product, we invite you to visit Please let us know if we can help you in any other way.

Regards, Carolyn

Consumer Relationship Center
SC Johnson, A Family Company

Toll Free Number: 1-800-558-5252

By Betty from WCH OHIO

Blue Stains Showing Up On White Wash

Almost everyone except one entry is on the wrong track. Blue-green stains are cause by water that has too low a ph factor. Do a lot of you have well water? I'll bet that is true. I do and I have been getting blue-green stains not only in my white clothes wash but on my shower walls. Unfortunately the only real answer is to get ph correction in your system. (09/19/2008)

By Bob A

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October 1, 20060 found this helpful
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