Solutions for Dingy Clothing

Category Laundry
Dingy clothing is a common complaint and one that can often be resolved. This is a page about solutions for dingy clothing.


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May 30, 2011

I have a Bosch front loader (about 5 years) and recently most of my whites and light colored shirts are coming out dingy and with stains under the arms. I have tried using less detergent, more detergent, pre-wash solutions, baking soda paste, just about everything and they still come out with the stains. Is there a filter or something in this thing? The manual doesn't say anything about it. I do have three dogs that shed a lot and I wash their bedding in it. Possibly something is clogged? Help!

By RKS from Grants Pass, OR


June 1, 20110 found this helpful

I am just learning about front load washers, so I'm not sure this will help, but have you tried really hot water and bleach, or blueing liquid, or vinegar?


I've just remarried (at 54, and after 13 years divorced) and my husband has a front loader-everything white or light comes out dingy at my house, too, so I'm trying to figure out how to use the blueing, I guess where I'd put fabric softener.

It works on top-load machines, but I don't know yet if it will work for a front loader.

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June 1, 20110 found this helpful

I do not use a front loader or have under arm stains but I have discovered if I take a bucket a put in 2 gallons of hot water and a cup of Lemon ammonia and soak my dingy items in it and throw them in the washer and the bucket of ammonia water then let it run through it cycle with laundry detergent amazing how clean they are, 1 thing I do is check the rinse water or if it's still quite dirty I throw in more laundry detergent and reset it to as a new load in other words 2 watch cycles and 1 rinsing that usually does the trick.


But what ever you do, do not add bleach.

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June 2, 20110 found this helpful

Are you using homemade laundry detergent or store bought? Homemade always seems to leave whites a little dingy. If you are using homemade soap, buy detergent and use only on your whites.

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June 2, 20112 found this helpful

How to Use Bluing For Dingy White Clothes

Bluing is an "old-fashioned" product that helps make whites appear to be whiter. Manufacturers use it in the finishing process of white goods because a blue tint makes white appear brighter. Unfortunately, the bluing wears off after repeated washings. The good news is you can add it back by using liquid bluing. It can be used for white clothes or on blue jeans that you wish to darken.


Here's how:
Always dilute bluing (it is concentrated) in cold water before adding to the washer. Never pour it directly into the machine because it can cause spotting. To whiten whites, if adding to the wash water, use 1/4 teaspoon diluted in one quart of water. Add the solution to the wash water. If adding only to the rinse cycle, use 1/8 teaspoon in a quart of water. Do not use an automatic dispenser for bluing.

For blue jeans, more can be used, up to 1 teaspoon, in the diluted solution depending upon how dark you want your jeans to be. Bluing can be used with detergent but should not be used with bleach, fabric softener or any other laundry product.

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June 5, 20111 found this helpful

I had a front loader for years and loved it. The causes of some problems may be


1. Putting too many clothes in at a time. I had a friend with a top loader and wondered why her clothes were grey only to watch her cram it full of clothes. It is like taking something really dirty and trying to wash it in 1 cup of water...
2. You may have a build up of detergent. To check it wash a load of clothes with nothing in the water and check the window for suds.
3. I always use a second rinse and vinegar in the rinse cycle.
4. If you get too many suds generously pour vinegar in to cut the suds. Then rinse again. I never had problems with dingy clothes especially because I use a double rinse and vinegar

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September 13, 20160 found this helpful

If the rinse water in your machine is dirty-something is very wrong with your machine. I laundered farm clothes and mechanic's clothes and kid clothes for years, and never ever saw dirty rinse water. Anyone else have this problem?


And I use bleach always for whites, and never had a problem. Dingy usually means cheap detergent, or something home made-sorry, not an advocate of bad detergent. It shows.

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September 13, 20160 found this helpful

It's tempting to stuff your big tub front loader with all those grubby clothes, and I guarantee they will come out not so clean. If you don't care, say old work coveralls or coats, ok, but for all the rest-just do normal size loads, and good detergent and additives. For really dingy clothes, maybe an overnight soak in a bucket with Oxyclean or ? might help. Then a good bleaching. Still dingy? wash with Iron out, but do be very careful and don't breath this stuff. THEN find some bluing, use a bit, diluted in water.

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February 10, 2009

I moved and the washer I am using is leaving my colored clothes dingy, I can't get them clean. I read to use Iron Out on whites. Can you also use it on colored clothes? What would be best for soaking my colored clothes? They are mostly my 4 year old daughter's clothes.

Cass from KS


February 10, 20090 found this helpful

My daughter HATES to do laundry! I used to do it for her so
my grand kids had clean fresh clothes! Then I decided to let her
do her own, I had my own to do. Then she taught the kids to
do their own. But that's all they did not hers (I don't blame them)
Her clothes looks dingy cause they stay dirty too long. She
used to say that doing laundry was like going shopping,cause
she saw clothes she hadn't seen for so long. How lazy is that!
I should be ashamed to type that, but I guess it makes me too mad to be ashamed! Grrrr at her!

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February 11, 20090 found this helpful

I need to add, my reason isn't because I waited too long to do laundry. I recently was inspecting my washer to make sure it was running right, I noticed that during the wash cycle it isn't rotating the clothing. It shakes as if it is so I didn't know it wasn't working properly. So now that I know it the washer, once I replace my washer. How do I get the ding out of the colored clothes?? I tried soaking the whites in lemon, and I also tried the cascade trick. Neither worked.

Any help would be great..

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February 12, 20090 found this helpful

Since your problem is a washer that is not working properly, I would just try washing as usual when you get a new washer or have this one fixed. It may be that they come clean with a good wash cycle.

If not, try one of the many things suggested until you find one that works. I would start with the baking soda, maybe Borax if that didn't work. good luck.

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April 5, 20160 found this helpful

I would try some Clorox 2, it's safe for colored clothes. I'd also put a little white vinegar in the rinse cycle. Not enough to make the clothes smell like a pickle, just a half cup or so. It helps get all the soap out, brightens a bit, and does help a little with static. I think too much fabric softener builds up in the washer. Borax is good for whites but I wouldn't use it for colors. Hope this helps.

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April 23, 2010

I washed a yellow t-shirt in cold water with dark colors. It is now looking a little dingy. I was wondering if there is a way to get it back to it's original brighter color.

By Doug from Pompano Beach, FL


April 23, 20100 found this helpful

I buy a generic brand of Oxi-Clean at the dollar stores. Soak your shirt in a solution of water and Oxi-Clean for several hours and it should remove the dingy color. Then wash the shirt again with regular detergent.

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April 23, 20100 found this helpful

And in future, wash the shirt with only light colors. If this whole oxi-clean soaking business is too much for you, you could just try washing the shirt with the light colors for the next couple of times. It may be that the dinginess will wash out in regular detergent.

I always wash my yellows and pale pinks with the white load.

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April 24, 20100 found this helpful

Clorox all fabric bleach is another good alternative. Dry in the sun. Should be good as new. Make sure you don't use the regular clorox bleach. Use the one that is safe for colors.

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September 10, 2016

How to do I get the greyness out of my coloured towels. I have soaked them I bleach and nothing seems to work. Does anyone have any ideas of what I can use?

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I have some off-white hand towels that while they are still in great shape, have gotten dingy looking over time. I was ready to throw them out because even straight bleach (as well as other cleaners) didn't seem to make them look clean again.

However, I decided to try a combination of Soft Scrub with bleach, Clorox bleach pen, and Vivid. I put all three products on the problem area and used a little scrubber brush to work it into the fabric, I let the towel sit overnight and then washed it.

On the worst towel, I had to do this several times but it now looks like new! I love the towels and now I don't have to buy new ones to replace them.

By Carol from Iowa


January 25, 20100 found this helpful

Oxyclean is all I use on my dish towels and they are bright white all the time. Even the blue and green ones are bright. Just make sure you use really good hot water and then I let them soak for a while then through in the detergent and the rest of the towels. They all come out beautiful.

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July 27, 2013

I noticed after several years our towels and wash cloths are more than dingy. I've washed in hot and cold water, no change. I guess after electric dyer the stains are set in.
Is there a remedy for this?

By Lee M. from Magnolia, AR

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June 14, 2013

I have a man's suit jacket that is now a dingy white (with rhinestones on the collar), and I am wondering what the best approach to whitening it is?

By Heather W.

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June 29, 2012

Everything, white sweaters, blouses, etc. becomes dingy.This happens even though I wash whites only loads. What can I do to whiten them again?

By Phyllis from Newark, NJ

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July 13, 2018

This is a page about hard water leaving laundry dingy and gray. The minerals in hard water can be tough on your clothes. If you are finding that hard water is ruining the color of your clothing, try some of these tips.

Woman holding a hamper with dirty laundry.

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

January 25, 2010

I recently bought beige towels and wash cloths for my main bathroom. My problem is; after just a few uses and washings the wash cloths are becoming VERY dingy. I would appreciate any suggestions as to how to brighten them back up again. They were so beautiful, I didn't think of practicality... OOPS!

Judy from Birmingham, AL


Dingy Towels

Same in Rifle CO. So, I did what Mom did - plain white vinegar in rinse water. Wash the dingy towels in hot water, any temp rinse water and 1 cup + a good slosh of vinegar. It worked for my G.I family all over post WWII Europe in 1950-59. Luck (08/13/2006)

By JK Finnell

Dingy Towels

I add borax and it seems to give everything a lift. (08/15/2006)

By Mary

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February 10, 2009

My 10 year old front loading automatic washing machine finally died and I replaced it with a twin tub washer. I make my own laundry powder using baking soda, borax, washing soda and grated laundry soap mixed together in equal quantities. The trouble is, my whites are looking very dingy which never happened with my automatic.

Do I need to change the formula of my detergent or am I doing something wrong? I always wash with very warm water - not too hot - so that the detergent will melt properly. PLEASE HELP! The water here is hard but I've never had problems before. I can't afford to buy another machine so I have to sort something out.

Cettina from Malta, Europe


Why Is My Laundry Dingy?

When I made homemade laundry detergent I thought it worked great-at first. Then the same thing happened to my laundry. It started to look gray and dingy. Now I say heck with homemade-I buy the regular detergent at the store and only use 1/3 of what it says to use. No more problems! (04/17/2008)

By Cindy

Why Is My Laundry Dingy?

I used to use well water; but found that it made my problem worse. Now I use water from the mains but they are still dingy. I think Cindy has the right idea. It's fun to be frugal, but you want good results. I think for my type of water - hard, with limestone deposits, using store bought detergent and washing soda or bleach or borax to boost it, is the best idea. I can't change my water. It's the same all over the island where I live. Thanks for all your suggestions. Being frugal is good but you have to be sensible and adapt to situations. (04/18/2008)

By cettina

Why Is My Laundry Dingy?

I also have to agree that Iron Out works great on whites, but be careful using it on colors. My water is well water and turns everything orange or yellow. (04/19/2008)

By nancy

Why Is My Laundry Dingy?

I have used the homemade laundry detergent recipe for years and it is a lot of fun using it. The problem though that you are having and most all I know who use the homemade laundry detergent is, that Homemade laundry detergent does not contain anuyoptical brighteners like commercial laundry detergent. When you read about optical brighteners, they sound awful really as it is a glowing dye they use on your clothes to make them appear brighter and whiter than they really are. You could add a product to your homemade laundry detergent that has optical brighteners in it, of course that would bring the cost up to making it. You can also try using store bought fabric softener as this has optical brighteners in it. I have tried to find a "natural" product to have this effect without the dye and chemicals, and I myself have not found a solution yet. Many of my friends who use the homemade laundry detergent, will wash their clothes in store bought detergent every now and then to prevent them from looking dingy.

One time I grated an entire bar of Ivory soap and put it in my whites and they looked bright and clean. But using a whole bar of soap on 1 load of laundry is not very cost effective. (08/16/2008)

By Tabby

Why Is My Laundry Dingy?

I never had a problem until I bought a front loading washing machine. So far it seems to be mainly the wash clothes and towels that look dingy. You can easily see it on both colored or light ones, although I do not think that the shirt collars are getting as clean as before. I am afraid to try the above mentioned remedies after all that is said about using special HE detergents only with my machine. Any suggestions, or is someone using the Borax with a front loader? (11/23/2008)

By karla

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April 15, 2008
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