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Mystery Stains on Laundry

Submit an Entry: Your Laundry Questions and Answers

By gloria4575

My Laundry Question

I keep getting stains on my husband's dark colored tee shirts. The shirts do not have stains going into the wash, but they do coming out. I now use liquid detergent which is added as the tub is filling. I do not use fabric softener and once the stains are there, I can't get them out. I have tried everything including hydrogen peroxide.

Share a Little Background Info

The stains seem to happen after I wash them. The stain almost looks like an oil stain. It is a darkening in spots. It only seems to happen on the tee shirts. I have tried putting a stain remover on it and rewashing it, but the stain persists. One shirt was rubbed and washed so much, it now has a small hole. I thought the fabric softener was the culprit, but I have stopped using it. I do put the shirts in the dryer - maybe the spots are coming from the dryer.

Lessons Learned

  • I have tried rubbing the stain with various stain removers.
  • I have tried hydrogen peroxide.

Fabric Content of Item (if appropriate)

Usually cotton

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

Your stains do present a mystery. When I first started reading your question, I was thinking that you had spotting from undissolved detergent or fabric softener in the washer. If you have a detergent or fabric softener dispenser, make sure that it is completely clean and that no product is dropping into your wash/rinse water.

I also thought about dryer sheets which can leave a oily-looking spots on clothes. However, these are usually simple to wash out with regular water and detergent.

One other thing to check is the condition of your washer and dryer drums. Use a flashlight and really look over every inch. Be sure that there is nothing hiding under your washer agitator and that there are no greasy spots on the inside drums. If there are, clean the area well and determine if you need a repairman.

Now, about the stains. Usually an enzyme-based pretreater will take care of oily stains. Be sure to follow directions and allow the solution time to work. You can also mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (OxiClean, Tide Stain Release, Clorox 2) and warm water and allow the shirts to soak overnight. Then wash them as usual.

Good luck and let us know if you are successful.
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