My Washing Machine Leaves Spots on My Clothes

Sarah Emerald

Your washing machine is supposed to clean your clothing, not stain it. Combat unsightly laundry stains by figuring out the source of the problem. Sometimes a simple addition to your laundry soap is enough to get your clothing truly clean.

Cut down on laundry angst by identifying and removing potential problems.

Try to identify the type of spots -- are you seeing little round dark spots or an overall dinginess? Different stains can have different causes. Most laundry issues are easily solved once the culprit is identified.

Hard Water

If your laundry has large, dingy gray stains on it, hard water may be the culprit. Overall gray patches on light-colored textiles can be an indicator of hard water. Use detergent instead of soap when you clean clothing in your washer, and add a cup of salt to condition the water before you add your clothing. Simply softening the water can eliminate the dingy spots and keep your laundry looking its best.

High Iron Content

Adding bleach to water with high iron content can actually trigger rust stains. Avoid using bleach if you are seeing rusty areas on your light-colored clothing. If you see an allover rusty circular pattern on your fabrics, there may be too much iron in your water. The longer the laundry sits in the washing machine, the more likely it is to develop rust stains. Add a half cup of baking soda to every load to soften the water, and remove laundry the instant it is done to eliminate these spots.

Foreign Objects

If you don't normally have spots on your laundry and suddenly have a full array of dark, bright or colorful stains on your clothes, look for a foreign object. If a crayon, marker or other writing implement has accidentally been included in the laundry, it will get all over the clothing that is included in the load. Treat the stains, and rewash the items to try to remove the stains. Some stains, like permanent marker, will be more difficult to remove than others. Run the washing machine empty a few times to ensure that it is free of crayon, ink or debris before washing additional clothing.


If you have washed an item and it has come out of the washing machine with stains, do not place it in the dryer. Drying the item on high heat will permanently stain the fabric. Instead, use a laundry stain stick and promptly rewash the item, adding baking soda, salt or water softener to the water as needed to prevent further staining. Several dye brands offer rust and color removers designed to fix washing machine errors. If a stain fighter doesn't work, one of these specially formulated mixtures should.