Why Are My Clothes Coming Out Of The Washer Stained?

Ideally, dirty clothes should come out clean of a washer. However, it doesn’t always work that way because sometimes, your clothes can come out of the washer stained, and you might not even know why.

If your clothes come out of the washer stained, here’s how to deal with them.

6 Possible Reasons That Make Clothes Get Stained In The Washer

Dirty drum

clothes stained in washing machine

Sometimes, the drum in your washer has some greasy residue that might have accumulated from a recent wash load. This could smear the next laundry set with grey or black oil stains.

To rectify this, try cleaning the drum with a cup of white vinegar or even bleach. Some products are specifically for cleaning greasy residue in your washer drums.

Fabric softener

why do my clothes get stained in the washer

Another reason your clothes come out of the washer stained is the improper use of fabric softener. While a fabric softener is great for your clothes, it can stain your clothes if not correctly applied.

Fabric softener is spread evenly over the clothes to get the best results. Using too much fabric softener causes the excess to clump and cling to specific areas in your drum, smearing your laundry.

To prevent your fabric softener from creating lumps, make sure to reduce the amount you use or ensure that it is proportionate to the amount of laundry in the load for gentle washing without any stains.


why does my clothes get stained in the washer

When you use too much powdered detergent in a wash load, it forms lumps in the clothes that may not fully dissolve. Using too much powdered or liquid detergent causes “detergent spots” on your clothes.

The suds from the detergent usually don’t rinse out well, hindering the washer from washing your clothes properly and redepositing dirt on your clothes in the form of white patches.

[5 Methods To Get Detergent Stains Out Of Clothes]

Overloading the washer

washing machine leaving black marks on clothes

When you overload your washer, water and detergent won’t get to every part of the laundry because it is stuffed. An overloaded washer leaves little to no room for dirt and soil particles to be washed out.

Even if you want to save time and money, avoid overloading your washer. Doing this damages both your clothes and the washer. Remember that your clothes need enough room to move around for water and detergent to spread.

Clogged water pump

washer leaving stains on clothes

If the filter above the water pump of your washer is clogged, all the dirt, soil, and undissolved detergent will be redeposited on your clothes, leaving stains on them.

Ensure that you always check the filter to remove clogs like lint, detergent, buttons, and coins.

Plumbing issues

why is my washer leaving stains on my clothes

In some cases, the stains from your washer are by the pipes carrying water to the machine. If your pipes are old and rusty, the water flowing into the washer might also get rusty. This rusty water leaves stains on your clothes.

How To Ensure Your Clothes Don’t Come Out Of The Washer Stained.

black grease marks on clothes from washing machine

  • Fix your washer. Many of the stains on your clothes are caused by your washer malfunctioning. Once you notice any technical fault, get a maintenance specialist to check what’s making your clothes get stained in the washer. Whether it’s grease from the drum, old pipes, a broken pump, grease from the door seal, drive belt, or ball bearings, etc., ensure you get it fixed immediately.
  • Don’t use too much detergent and fabric softener. If you’re using cold water and powder detergent for a wash cycle, first dissolve the detergent with warm water. Don’t also put detergent on dry clothes in the washer.
  • Clean out the wash drum with a damp cloth and hot water to remove any clumps of fabric softener.
  • If the water that goes directly into the washer is hard and causes rust, it is recommended to get a water softener. Wash the clothes with the hottest water the clothes can tolerate and add four times the normal amount of detergent and one cup of water conditioner
  • Always wipe the rubber seal on the washer door after every wash cycle to remove any grease. The grease stuck on the washer door leaves stains and marks on your clothes.
  • Try to leave the washer door open when not in use to allow ventilation, avoid bad smells, and prevent mold or mildew growth.
  • In cases where the paint in your washer is chipping off, repaint the affected area. You can also apply paint over any rusted area to prevent stains on your clothes.
  • Avoid using chlorine bleach with hard water. Hard water contains iron which, when mixed with chlorine bleach, causes rusty stains on clothes.
  • Use a rust stain remover specifically designed for appliances to remove rust-causing stains from your washer.
  • Clean your washer regularly, like after every wash cycle, weekly or monthly. Once in a while, run hot water through your washer, clean out the drain above the water pump and remove any lint or detergent residue from the filter. All these can cause slow water drainage, leaving marks and stains on your clothes if left unattended.

5 Ways To Clean Your Washer-stained Clothes

why is my washer leaving black marks on clothes

The most effective way to get rid of the stains on your clothes is to rewash them after you’ve eliminated all possible causes of stains in the washer.

Wash the stained clothes using a little detergent and fabric softener, and hot water. Don’t overload the washer. Here are several ways to rewash your stained clothes:

  • Wash with vinegar: Add one cup of distilled white vinegar to the water to help in relaxing the fibers and removing the residue from the clothes. After this, let the clothes soak in the vinegar solution for about one hour, and then rinse the clothes thoroughly.
  • Use bleach: To rewash with bleach, you should first fill the drum with warm or hot water before adding a cup of bleach. Leave the stained clothes submerged in this solution overnight, and then wash using little or no detergent.
  • Use lemon juice or rust stain remover: For rust stains, you should use something mildly acidic such as a rust stain remover. The rust stain remover you choose must be safe for your clothes and colors. Alternatively, you could use lemon juice or sometimes vinegar, remove the stains.
  • Use bar soap for fabric softener stains: To remove stains caused by fabric softener, scrub the affected area with a bar of laundry soap and a soft cleaning brush. This will loosen up the residue from the fabric softener and allow it to work on the fibers of your clothing. After doing this with your hands, put the clothes back in the washer and launder normally without adding any more soap, making sure to rinse thoroughly. Feel free to repeat the process till the stain is finally gone.
  • Wash with baking soda: another way to remove the stains is to rewash using baking soda. Instead of detergent, you use baking soda. Put the clothes in the washer normally and add a half cup of baking soda to the load. After doing this, wash normally without detergent and rinse out properly.

Follow This Step-by-step Guide On How To Clean Your Washer So That Your Clothes Won’t Come Out Stained.

stains from washing machine

  • Cleaning your washer is one important way to avoid the build-up and redeposition of soil, dirt, and lint. You should do this after every wash, monthly, or twice a year.
  • Before every load, check the pockets of your pants for coins, keys, paper, or tissue. All these stray items in the washer block the filter above the water pump, damage the drum, or generally wreak havoc to your machine.
  • Always double-check to avoid leaving behind any clothing items, which may begin to smell and cause mold and rust in the drum.
  • Wipe down the rubber seal on the door to clean off mold and detergent deposits that build up inside the washer. These deposits are called scrubs and can be cleaned with hot soapy water.
  • Use a toothbrush, small cloth, and vinegar to scrub any detergent residue from the detergent dispenser and other smaller parts of the washer.
  • If your dispenser isn’t removable, pour a cup of heated white vinegar into the dispenser and let it soak for about 15 minutes to remove any residue before you scrub.
  • If the dispenser is removable, submerge it in a bucket filled with hot water and one cup of heated white vinegar. Allow it to soak for about 15 minutes, and then scrub using a toothbrush or a small bristle brush to remove any lingering residue.
  • To clean the drum, pour four cups of white vinegar and one cup of baking soda into it, then use a stiff nylon brush to scrub the inside.
  • Always clean out the washer’s filter as often as possible to ensure no soil, buttons, coins, lint, or detergent residue is on it. Cleaning experts recommend you do this after every wash load.
  • Run an empty cycle filling the washer with hot water and adding four cups of distilled white vinegar or chlorine bleach. Allow the washer to run through the largest and longest complete cycle of washing, rinsing, and spinning. You could do one more wash and rinse the cycle to eliminate the bleach or vinegar.
  • If you always use only cold water to run your wash cycle, you should run a hot water wash cycle once in a while to reduce any build-up of detergent and fabric softener.


There are quite some reasons your clothes come out of the washer with stains. Most problems are solvable if you’re intentional with cleaning and caring for your machine.

Incorporating the tips above when doing your laundry would make your clothes come out of your washer fresh and spotless while preventing damage to your machine.

washing machine staining clothes

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