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Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

Sometimes clothes come out of the washer with strange grease or oil-like stains on them that were not there before washing. This is a guide about mysterious grease stains on 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
November 15, 2010

When my wife washes my t-shirts they come out with stains on them. The stain looks like a light kind of round oil stain. We can't figure out where these stains are coming from. They are on my white and colored t-shirts. All of them go in clean and come out stained. We even got a new washing machine.


By Luke from Anaheim, CA


November 15, 20100 found this helpful

Since you have a new washing machine, it might still be under warranty. Call the store where you bought it and explain the problem that you're having. They just might send someone over to take a look at it and fix the problem.

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November 23, 20100 found this helpful

Maybe it's something in the dryer. Try checking it every time before you throw the clothes in. I say this because I had a tiny puddle that appeared in the bottom of the drum during humid weather. I noticed it before anything happened but would have had mystery stains, too, if I hadn't accidentally seen it.

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June 29, 20130 found this helpful

I stopped having this problem when I stopped using dryer sheets. Not sure if it a coincidence.

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November 27, 20140 found this helpful

It's your drier sheets :( Boohoo! Idk if you know, drier sheets are full of nasty toxins. Use white vinegar in your final rinse. The smell will be gone when the clothes are dry and will still smell good, like your soap. Way cheaper! I rarely use products from the store, the Internet is full of much safer diy 'recipes' that you'll be pleasantly suprised work As well or better, and cost substantially less :)

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July 26, 20160 found this helpful

How do you get the dryer sheet stains out?

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November 15, 20100 found this helpful

I just bought a new washer and some of my clothes come out with what looks like discoloration or grease spots all over them. Not everything, just 2 or 3 things. It is a GE. Has anyone had any kind of problem like this? I thought it may be fabric softeners or laundry soap, but it isn't. I've tried rewashing and using stain remover and it is there to stay. I think it is coming from the washer somehow.

By Pam from Canadian, TX


Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

Ditto here. I have a GE too, and it was leaving dark blotches on a number of items with every wash. Repeated washings did nothing to clean the stains.


I've done two things that I think have helped: Started using a cup of vinegar in the washer (instead of bleach), and stopped washing anything greasy (kitchen towels and potholders) with the whites. Greasy items get soaked in ammonia in the sink, then get hand-washed and rinse. These items don't get to go in my washer and dryer anymore.

FYI: I also reduced my detergent down considerably but I don't think that had anything to do with the spots.

Hope this helps. (08/21/2010)

By Nextbatterup

Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

Ladies, you have cleared up a mystery for me. I have had the same kind of problem (I also have GE) and started noticing these spots on my husband's white briefs and my kitchen towels. I tried everything under the sun to remove these discolorations and nothing has worked. I ran my washer full of water and Clorox and let it go through the wash cycle. I also started adding vinegar to each wash load. This was driving me crazy trying to figure out the problem. All I knew was that I had never had this problem before with my old Maytag washer, only with the G.E. (08/21/2010)


By indianlady

Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

When I got those grease marks the repair man said that it was my transmission leaking. (08/21/2010)

By erinj

Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

After the stains started showing up I figured it was time for a new washer/dryer. Before I went out to invest in a new set, I did some research and I switched my laundry detergent to Charlies Soap (a more natural soap) with 1/2 cup of Arm and Hammer super washing soda (not baking soda), which I can only find in the grocery store. After about 3 washes and following the instructions, I am happy to say no more stains! I also let the water oscillate for 5 minutes before I add the clothes. I don't know if it was the soap or the the soda or the combination of the two, but all I can say is that it worked for me! No more ruined expensive clothes. (09/15/2010)

By usmcwife02

Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

I have a Kenmore top loader. Take the softener dispenser cup out of the machine by pulling straight up - hard! You will see a small disc that keeps moisture out of the agitator. Pull the disc out and clean it and the outer gasket. Check that the housing cup came out of for clear, white, brown, black or brown greasy globs. There are 3 or 4 tiny holes in the sides of the agitator that actually dispense the softener. Check these for build up too. I use Dawn and an old rag, and Q-tips to clean all. Let dry. Snap the disc back into the agitator. Be sure it is snapped in all the way around. Next, run the dispenser cup under hot water for a while to help melt the build up. Then unscrew the cup top from the bottom. This will be very hard to do. Keep up with the hot water until you can unscrew the cup.

You should have a creepy mess on the inside. Clean with Dawn and hot water until clean. I use rubber gloves because it is so awful looking. After the mess is cleaned up, I clean it with Windex, dry it and reassemble it. Snap the cup back in place by pushing it down onto the agitator until you hear it snap in place. Check the inside of the washer lid and the collar that keeps the socks in the tub and clean with Dawn also. I then run an empty load with a tiny amount of detergent and some Clorox. I have to do this about 4 times a year to keep the stains away. (10/09/2010)

By kbar1965

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August 17, 20100 found this helpful

I would like to know how to remove black grease stains from my white clothing. It appears after I have washed them.

By Joyce from IN


Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

When I have grease on my clothing by rubbing up against something like your car or something. I dampen the area with eucalyptus oil and then rub the area of clothing together and then I stuck it in the wash and the grease came right out, so give this a go. It should work for you. (03/11/2010)

By pussinbootsere

Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

This is a maddening problem, but thanks to all of your suggestions, I think I may have found the solution for me. I have a front loading Kenmore and it's been doing this ever since I got it 7 years ago. So last week I went out and bought HE detergent and some OxiClean. I put the OxiClean powder in the drum of the washer, start filling it with water and then put the liquid HE detergent in the dispenser while it's filling. I then put the clothes in and voila. So far, so good. What a relief. (05/13/2010)

By bogiesmom

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March 10, 20100 found this helpful

All my whites are coming out with dingy brown spots. Looks somewhat like oil spots.

By Elsie from AZ


Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

Check out the door seal on your washing machine. Gunge tends to build up there. (02/13/2010)

By skinnyjinny

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February 9, 20100 found this helpful

I have a Maytag Neptune front-loading washer that is about 4 years old. In the past 2 years, I've noticed greasy/oily looking spots on some of the darker colored clothes coming out. I've been through every possible remedy, even the ridiculous tablets Maytag said I should use, to no avail. I only use detergents for HE machines, and the smallest amount possible. I do not use liquid fabric softener at all.

I have run the machine empty with hot water and bleach, with hot water and vinegar, even done 2 cleanings in a row, even though the thought of wasting that much water totally did not sit well with me. But at the same time, I have some articles of clothing that don't get worn, just washed over and over because each time I wash, old spots might go away but new ones appear.

Anyone else have the same problem? What are some other solutions? I'm really at my wit's end with this stupid machine.

By Valorie from Arlington, WA


Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

Are you on city water or a well? When I had a well, my laundry used to get mysterious oily spots. Don't know if it came from the water or possibly the well pump. (04/19/2009)

By vguy

Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

I have used a Kenmore front load washing machine for over six years without any problems. I recommend these machines for various reasons. They clean well without using too much water or electricity. The first week I used it, my family actually noticed how much cleaner their clothes looked. The dark clothes were actually brighter and the whites were whiter. This was a big deal for me since, as in most families, husbands and kids do not usually make comments about things like this.

But it is used differently than a top load machine. It's not difficult, just a different way of thinking. You have to avoid too many suds. Suds do not clean clothes. You have to take into consideration the bulk of the clothing or the way the clothing holds water when wet when loading the machine, not the size of the load.

You should not mix heavy clothing and light clothing together. For example, heavy jeans and light nightgowns together, this is not even distribution. The jeans hold more water than the nightgowns. This will cause imbalance in any washer. Read the manual from the manufacturer to fully understand how the front loader works.

Since the front load machine doesn't have an agitator, it holds more than what it appears to. I have a small machine but can fit king size bedding into it.

I mix one box each of washing soda and Borax together, and add 1/4 cup or more, depending on the load, to the bottom of the drum. This was recommended by the manufacturer. I use 1/4 cap or more, again, depending on the load, of any cheap liquid clothes detergent.

I pre-treat any oily type of stains with Greased Lightning, a degreaser, bought at Wal-mart. This will take out oil stains even after being dried in the dryer. The treatment may have to be repeated once. I add a mixture of half vinegar and water as a rinse about once a month.

I use hot water for sheets, towels, and cotton whites. The rest of the clothes are washed in warm water. I always rinse in cold water.

On occasion I will use diluted bleach. When I feel any load needs some extra cleaning, I will let the washer get the clothes really wet and then turn it off for about one-half hour or more. I then restart the washer.

This method works for me. I feel every household has different laundry issues. If you have kids, you have different types of dirt, depending on what type of job you do, your clothes may get dirtier than others. Also, the type of water you have makes a big difference in how you may have to wash clothes.

Since I have city water and our water is hard, I use washing soda and Borax together, this helps soften the water, and boosts the laundry detergent's cleaning ability. You have to use more detergents/cleaners when you have hard water. I have used soft water and hard water, and there is a big difference.

I must mention that I think any clothes washer should have the lid/door kept open when not in use. I keep the dispenser drawer open on my front loader. This will help to prevent mildew/mold.

I am a big advocate of keeping anything in the house as dry as possible. Bacteria causes mold/mildew, it grows in moist/dark places. Circulation in any room is important. My husband jokingly says he feels he lives in a wind tunnel at times.

I realize some front loaders are not made all the same, and may have some manufacturer defects. My advice is to contact the company and be persistent if you feel that it is their responsibility to fix it. I have had major appliances fixed by the manufacturers when their warranties were up. One was a dryer that stopped working after only 18 months of use. The other was a defective air conditioner which was actually still under warranty, but the manufacturer (GE) did not want to honor it. They offered me a $50.00 rebate for a $230.00 air conditioner. This is a long story and I have already written enough, but in the end, I was given a complete refund.

Sorry this is so detailed and lengthy, but I am hoping someone will benefit from my over thirty years of experience of running a household. As you can tell, I like giving advice. (04/23/2009)

By mkymlp

Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

Don't buy a new washer. I had this problem with our seven year old Neptune and tried everything I could think of to get rid of the spots. We finally decided it must be the bearings or a seal that was leaking oil. I bought a new LG two months ago. Things were okay for the first couple of weeks. Then the spots started showing up again. They are the worst on my kids' red school uniform shirts.

I have tried several different detergents, running the tub cleaning cycle, adding degreaser the detergent, adding water softener. Nothing works. I think the spots are actually worse when I use the water softener. I also wash their shirts in hot water using the extra water setting. Still spots. Also, I tried diluting the detergent before adding it to the machine. I am going to try running some CLR soap scum remover through the machine. I have to think that detergent is building up in the lines that deliver it to the tub and that chunks of it dislodge and end up on the clothing. I'm at my wits end and am very mad that I went out and bought a new machine for nothing! (05/19/2009)

By lakjo

Mysterious Grease Stains on Clothing

About three times in the last five years, my 25 year old Maytag has started getting black grease spots on my clothes. I have been able to remove the grease stains with elbow grease, a toothbrush and Wisk. I was not sure from where in the washing machine they were coming from, but thanks to the posts here, I am sure it is the seal on the transmission as others have mentioned. My Maytag washer and dryer have not needed one single repair in 25 years. I guess it is about time. It doesn't get any better than this. Since they quit making quality products in the US sometime ago, I am sure the next one will be a different story! (12/23/2009)

By ashleyda55

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April 19, 20090 found this helpful

I keep getting 'grease' marks on freshly laundered clothes. The stains aren't there when I put the clothes in.

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May 2, 20080 found this helpful

I was wondering what causes grease like stains on our clothes.

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January 28, 20070 found this helpful

At first I thought that it was our washing machine that caused the little "grease" spots on my shirts.

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