Washing Machine Making Clothes Dirty
July 17, 2010 9:01 AM   Subscribe

LaundryFilter: Why is there linty crap all over my clothes just from the washer (NOT the dryer)?!?!

Let me preface this by saying I haven't changed my laundry habits in 5 years in terms of how I sort my laundry, wash it, etc.

I moved into a new rental apartment with my gf two years ago. Since then, we have noticed that when we wash our laundry, regardless of whether we put it in the dryer or hang it to dry (thus eliminating the dryer as the source of this problem) we get a TON of lint on our clothes. And its a weird type of lint...it is so rubbed into the clothing that it appears the clothes have black stains on them.

A thorough rubbing with a lint roller and rubbing some water in usually take care of it, but this is time consuming. We've been dealing with this silently since we moved in and just sucked it up but the thing that just pushed me over the edge was when I washed my off-white hoody and it came out an entire shade darker with patches of even darker areas that is all lint and I have no idea how to get it clean now--I'll probably have to hand wash it in the sink.

Neither of us have ever had this issue with a washing machine in places we've lived before and I'm wondering if there is some sort of lint trap equivelant in the washer that needs to be cleaned or something to prevent all this shit from ending up on our clothes.

It is frustrating as hell, especially since we both have a ton of hang dry delicates that end up looking nasty after we wash them.

FWIW we usually wash our stuff in cold water delicate cycle with Woolite.

The machines are shared by several other units if that makes any difference but in my old building that had many times more tenants using the machines, I NEVER had anything like this occur.

I would talk to our land lord about it but he is somewhat stubborn and hard to deal with and so I'd like to at least come to him with some suggestions/thoughts on the matter rather than just saying "its dirty, fix it" because he will likely tell me it is something with the way I'm doing my laundry as he assumes that whenever there is a problem its because the tenant doesn't know what they are doing.
posted by Elminster24 to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Are you putting in black towels of a particular cotton plus some artificial fibre mix into the wash? that's what led to my having the same problem with all my clothes out of the washer
posted by infini at 9:09 AM on July 17, 2010

Response by poster: No black towels are going in there. We occassionally put black towels and sheets and such in with the permanents load and into the dryer but have never had issues with that.

I'll repeat that I have washed that stuff together before in a past residence and NEVER had this issue so I seriously doubt that my towels and sheets, both several years old, have suddenly developed a major lint problem.

There is no fibre mix being added either.

We do mix light and dark colors and basically just split it up into delicates and non-delicates, both are done in cold water. And now I'm sounding like a broken record but I've done my laundry like that for years before living here and not once had an issue like this.
posted by Elminster24 at 9:17 AM on July 17, 2010

Best answer: Just as an experiment, you might try doing all-white loads once or twice, to establish that the lint isn't just being somehow rubbed off from your own dark clothes. I know this didn't' happen at your old apartment, but it's possible that this washer agitates more, that the water is harder and doesn't rinse as well, or whatever.

It also does appear that washing machines have lint traps, so you could try cleaning those out, as well.
posted by Bardolph at 9:22 AM on July 17, 2010

Our similar problem went away when we changed the lint trap.
posted by desjardins at 9:30 AM on July 17, 2010

And it could be that someone else has been leaving those black fibres behind in the lint traps
posted by infini at 9:31 AM on July 17, 2010

By the way I change the lint trap at least every few months, and I am only doing laundry for two adults. Two years is a really excessive amount of time. They're like $1 for 2 at Walgreens.
posted by desjardins at 9:31 AM on July 17, 2010

What kind of washer, front loading or top loading? If it's a top loader have you looking in the center column and around the edges for a trap to empty? What about the drain line, is it easily accessible?
posted by Rhomboid at 9:38 AM on July 17, 2010

Response by poster: Machine is a top loader.

I've looked all in the rim, in the center spindle (tried unscrewing it and everything) and checked from what was visible of the hose out the back and I can't find anything that resembles a lint trap or any piece that is easily removable or anything of the sort.

This is a pay machine but I can't imagine why they might hide something like that. Any other places to look? Or should I just call my land lord and say "I think the lint traps in the washer need to be cleaned and I can't find them."
posted by Elminster24 at 9:48 AM on July 17, 2010

Does the washer outlet hose empty into one of those tall pipes, rather than a washtub? I wonder if the pipe could be clogged up with lint, and that's hindering the proper rinsing of the clothes, similar to what happens when a lint trap gets clogged. (For me, clogged lint trap means there's still suds in the clothing, but its really just evidence that the machine is not rinsing and emptying properly.) You could try shining a flashlight in there, I guess.
posted by cabingirl at 10:03 AM on July 17, 2010

You could search for the model of washer online; the name should be under the lid. If the trap isn't easily accessible to you, then I'd call your landlord.
posted by desjardins at 10:05 AM on July 17, 2010

Best answer: It could also be the case that it wasn't installed properly -- maybe the drain hose is the wrong diameter, or it has too tight a turn radius, or an external trap was supposed to be installed but wasn't; regardless of the details the next step is to call the landlord and get someone qualified out there to look at it. I totally get where you're coming from with needing something concrete to complain about, but you have all the proof you need with your hoodie: no garment should come out several shades darker. If you want, do a load with a single white towel and nothing else and show it to them, or tell them that a single white thing came out all dark and that is not operator error.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:21 AM on July 17, 2010

Have you tried wiping down the inside of the machine with some white rags or paper towels to see if you can find any residue in a specific area that might help tip you off? I wonder if it's some sort of rubber seal degrading in there somewhere and getting in the water.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:47 AM on July 17, 2010

Bouncing off Lyn Never's response, we had a similar problem with weird lint, then found a gross ring developing inside the washer. Had the washer cleaned out, had the water tested...then eventually realized it was goo from a new lotion we were trying...basically transferring off the skin, getting on the clothes, gooping up the surfaces of the washer, catching the lint. Nasty. Quit using it, and now washer and clothes are clean again. You didn't mention seeing a ring in the washer, so maybe there's not a similarity!
posted by mittens at 12:06 PM on July 17, 2010

I've heard that high levels of manganese in the water can cause black staining to laundry. Did you move to somewhere with a private water supply?

The only kind of black staining I've found personally from laundry was due to a problem with the door seal on a front-loading machine, but that was causing isolated marks rather than any all-over discolouration.
posted by Lebannen at 5:24 PM on July 17, 2010

Someone else in your building is washing their work clothes in that washer.
posted by gjc at 6:32 PM on July 17, 2010

Response by poster: Quick update...

Spoke with the landlord and he at first thought it was my clothes mixing (as I predicted) but I laid out the evidence for why that likely wasn't the case. He is a pretty experienced mr. fixit type owning and managing ~28 different units/buildings and he had never heard of a lint trap in a washer before so that was a little concerning.

He did have one point though in that since these are just fairly cheap commercial washers, that they might not have lint traps as that could just be something on nicer, more expensive units.

Any way, he's going to give the company behind them a ring and see what they say.
posted by Elminster24 at 8:10 AM on July 18, 2010

Its always a pain trying to explain to landlord. We used to have a clogged insinkerater for our kitchen drain and it took month before the landlord send a repair man to our place. And he still wanted to charge use for the repair, because he thinks its our fault, while indeed it was just because the sink have not been cleaned for years.

Regards the dirt - you might want to check the water pump and see if its clogged. I had mine before and the problem was fixed that way.
posted by olia02 at 9:08 PM on October 27, 2010

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