Blotchy laundry
June 18, 2007 1:40 PM   Subscribe

Laundry filter: A lot of my clothing comes out of the washing machine with white blotches.

It looks similar to when your deodorant hasn't dried properly and leaves marks. The white comes out if I rub the dried clothes vigorously with a wet washcloth. All my Google searches result in "your powdered detergent isn't dissolving properly, switch to liquid." The thing is, I am using liquid detergent. I usually wash in either cold or warm water, if that makes a difference. Any ideas on how to wipe out the white?
posted by Oriole Adams to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Fill the entire "tub" of the washer with water mixed with your liquid detergent. THEN put your clothes in. I suspect that the spots are the liquid detergent splashing on your clothes.
posted by k8t at 1:46 PM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've had this problem when I've used too much detergent, it doesn't completely rinse out well, and spots where it concentrates get this after drying. Also, because I use a common machine in an apartment complex, sometimes I've found chunks of dried detergent under the edge of the rotator.

Another possiblity is that you might have really hard water, and your detergent isn't fully integrating with the wash water, have you tried different brands?
posted by pupdog at 1:46 PM on June 18, 2007

also, make sure you don't overfill your washer with clothes.
posted by nimsey lou at 1:53 PM on June 18, 2007

try using less detergent. also, don't pack the washer with clothes--everything needs to move around freely to rinse properly.
posted by thinkingwoman at 1:56 PM on June 18, 2007

We have this problem too, especially on dark clothes, and have tried all the above, none of which really solved the problem.

The only thing that's worked for us -- and Lord help you if you have this problem as bad as we did -- is switching to one of those Oxy-Clean detergent balls, rinsing dark clothes twice and then letting them spin in the dryer for 10 minutes or so. (We let most of our darks hang to dry, hence the 10-minute spin. If you dry yours, just let 'em bake.)

As always, YMMV. Good luck.
posted by Work to Live at 2:49 PM on June 18, 2007

N-thing the "don't put too many clothes into the machine" comments above.

Also, try running an hot wash cycle (without clothes) and tip a packet of Epsom salts in - this will remove any build-up of soap residue either in the tub or pipes (it'll also remove any "old soap" funk from the machine).
posted by ninazer0 at 3:31 PM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you have hard water it may be contributing to the problem. Hard water can make it difficult for your detergent to work as it is designed, and can cause things to be deposited on your fabrics that would normally be suspended in the detergent. There are additives you can put into your wash water to soften it, usually called "water softeners" or "water conditioners". I think Calgon makes one.

Doing a rinse with diluted white vinegar cures a lot of ills that befall dark fabrics.
posted by Mozzie at 5:17 PM on June 18, 2007

Your washing machine may not be filling all the way. Try turning it on with no clothing inside, wait til it starts agitating and check the water level.

Effective rinsing depends partly on the spin cycle. If your clothes are coming out of the washer heavy, your spin cycle is probably not working very well, and you need to try leveling the machine before calling for service or replacing it.

If this has been going on for a long time, your dryer has deposits of dried detergent inside it which can be picked up by your clothes when they are wet. Wipe the inside of the dryer out with wet towels until you can no longer feel the slickness of detergent on them.

But before you do any of that, please make absolutely sure you are adding only the recommended amount of detergent to your loads.
posted by jamjam at 6:56 PM on June 18, 2007

Adding baking soda when using powdered detergent prevents this. I've never had this problem with liquid detergent, but it might help. Also, make sure the washer isn't too full, the clothes should be in a loose pile that will be completely covered by the water. Don't use too much detergent, usually you can get by with about 3/4 of what they tell you to use for lightly soiled clothes.
posted by yohko at 9:07 PM on June 18, 2007

Thanks for all the responses. I didn't know that packing the clothes in the washer could cause this; I'm afraid I'm guilty of overstuffing. I will try smaller loads and see what happens.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:05 PM on June 18, 2007

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