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Black Streaks on Laundry

Submit an Entry: Your Laundry Questions and Answers

By Robin Parker

Black Streaks on Laundry

Black streak on sheet

Black Streaks on Laundry

Black streak on t-shirt

My Laundry Question

Black streaks on white laundry

Share a Little Background Info

I have an older front loading HE washer and a gas dryer - both are about 5 years old. When I wash and dry (I can't tell which appliance is the culprit) white/light clothes some of the clothes in the load come out with small black streaks on them. It doesn't matter if it is a white t-shirt, pillowcase or my husbands tidy-whities. I have reduced the washer spin cycle from maximum to medium and reduced the dryer from cottons to permanent press/easy care cycle. I use HE laundry detergent and Clorox bleach and Snuggle dryer sheets.

Lessons Learned

  • reduced the spin cycle on the washer
  • reduced the heat cycle on the dryer

Fabric Content of Item (if appropriate)


Mary Marlowe Leverette, About.com Laundry & Laundry Rooms, says:

Unfortunately, I feel certain that you have a mechanical problem with your washer or dryer. It's time to grab a flashlight and a screwdriver and do a thorough check of each to determine which is the culprit - hopefully, not both!

Start with your washer. Remove the back and check for any "spray" of oil. If you see a splattering around the bearings, the oil may be leaking into your washer drum. If so, you can look up the model of your machine and get replacement parts or consult a repair person. If it is oil, you should be able to remove the stains following these tips.

Now inspect the dryer drum. Move the flashlight around the drum where it seals to the front and back of the appliance. Look for a gap where clothes - particularly thin cotton material - can get caught. If you see a gap, the clothes are getting streaked with the metal shavings that have accumulated because the dryer drum is out of balance. The shavings are coming from the drum rubbing on the rollers or support glides that hold it in place. Again, you may be able to do the repairs yourself of call a repair person.

If you have lost your appliance manual, you may be able to find it online here.

To remove the metal shavings stains, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (Clorox 2 or OxiClean) and warm water. Allow the stained items to soak for 24 hours and then wash as usual. Good luck!

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