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What Causes Yellow or Brown Stains on Laundry After Washing?

Submit an Entry: Your Laundry Questions and Answers

By GirlgotQuestion

What Causes Yellow or Brown Stains on Laundry After Washing?

Circles show untreated stain; other spots being treated

My Laundry Question

I keep getting large random yellowish brown stains on my white laundry. I notice them after I take the clothes from the dryer. What are they?!?

Share a Little Background Info

It is a stain, but I have no idea how it's getting there.....It goes in the wash normal and comes out with large yellowish brown spots.

I don't know if it's the washing machine, the water, the pipes, the detergent or fabric softener, the temperature of the water or the dryer.

I've washed clothes for 20 years without these problems. It only started when I moved to my current house 10 months ago. I have a gas dryer, which I've never before had.....not sure if that is the problem.

I've also tried adding vinegar to the wash cycle to see if that would help. It doesn't.

Lessons Learned

  • I have tried switching everything I can think of.....I have tried multiple detergents and fabric softeners
  • I have used bleach, then removed all use of bleach (thinking I was causing bleach stains)
  • I changed sunscreens thinking something in the sunscreen was causing the stains
  • I called the water company to check for hard water. They said they provide "normal water" and have no problems with hard water.
  • I have had the washing machine repairman come look at the washer even though the washer is only 10 months old. He said the machine was fine.
  • Nothing works to get rid of the yellow brown spots.

Fabric Content of Item (if appropriate)

This mostly happens on white, cotton articles like laundry mats, white shirts, white baby blankets.

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

Since the spots only happen on white bed linens, we need to narrow down the cause. I feel it could be one of two things. It may be on other clothes and laundry but you just don't see it.

Cause #1: Water quality. If there is iron bacteria or rust in your water source or pipes, this could be the problem. Learn more about rusty water here. To eliminate that as a cause, purchase some distilled bottled water and try it on a new garment. Or, find a friend who doesn't have this problem and get the water from them. If the laundry comes out with no spots, then your water is the problem.

If it is rust from pipes, you can remove it using these tips.

Cause #2: If you are using a powdered detergent, it is possible that the washing powder is not dissolving completely washer and is causing the discoloration. If you are using a powdered laundry detergent, dissolve the powder in hot water before adding to the wash. Be sure that no chlorine bleach is added. If it is true rust, chlorine bleach will permanently set the stains. Oxygen-based bleach should be no problem.

I hope this will help you determine what is causing your stains and how to treat them.

Good luck!

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