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Why Do Rust Spots Occur When Doing Laundry

Submit an Entry: Your Laundry Questions and Answers

By bunears

My Laundry Question

Rust Stains

Share a Little Background Info

I have a new stainless steel-drum washer but sometimes I find orange stains (rust?) on the washed clothing. I use Tide 2X Ultra liquid detergent. This problem has happened with my previous washers also. To REMOVE these stains I have tried Shout, Simple Green,Lysol 4-in-one cleaner with bleach, without good results. Our city tells me that our city water is soft water and we use no other water softener device.

I would like to know how to PREVENT these stains from happening.

Thank you.

Lessons Learned

  • I clean out the washing machine hose filter from the wall spigot to the washer

Fabric Content of Item (if appropriate)

I mostly wash clothing that is 100% cotton or is cotton/polyester

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

Since you are on a city water system and have a new washer, my best thought is that you have iron/rust deposits inside your water heater or water pipes. The rust occasionally breaks loose, causing rusty water to flow into the washer. This can also happen when city or household water lines are disturbed (e.g., moved, replaced, back flushed or repaired) and rust breaks loose from old pipes. Low water reserves and accumulated sediment in the lines may also cause rust. Such incidents generally cause yellow, orange or brown stains to be deposited on clothes.

Iron stains that occur on clothes during laundering in rusty water can be easily prevented. Simply check the water for discoloration before doing the laundry. Start filling the washer with water before putting in the clothes to be washed; if the water is discolored, don't put clothes into the washer. Instead, without a load of clothes, let the washer fill and run through the wash and rinse cycles to clear the water lines. Check your water heater and if you have rust stains on sinks and toilets, you probably have a problem in your home.

If you notice rust stains on freshly washed clothes, NEVER put them in the dryer or use chlorine bleach. High heat and the chlorine will set the stains and make them very difficult, if not impossible to remove.

Follow the tips for rust stain removal for those items that have spots. Good luck!

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