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White Residue on Clothes After Washing? Here’s Why

Washing machine leaving white residue and marks on your clothes? Here are some reasons why along with how to get rid of them in a few easy steps.
White residue left on freshly laundered clothes is a common problem.
This phenomenon can be inconveniencing and time-consuming, especially if your washer leaves a white residue on black clothes, as you’ll need to run the clothes through the washer repeatedly to get them clean.
So what causes this problem, and how can you prevent it?

Common Causes of White Residue on Clothes

Body Soils Interaction

The interaction of body soils with laundry detergent may result in a white residue on clothing, especially between the folds and wrinkles. This phenomenon may get worse when using warm or hot wash cycles.
These handy tips may help reduce this, depending on the wash cycles available on your washing machine:
  • Avoid gentler cycles, such as Casuals and Delicates
  • Select Whites, Heavy-duty, Power-wash, or Deep-water-wash, wash cycles
  • Select cooler temperatures for fabrics
  • Select higher soil levels for fabrics
  • Choose the extra rinse option
  • Use the correct amount of high-efficiency (HE) detergent

Excessive Lint

Using shorter wash cycles and a dryer can also help remove most of the excess lint.

Using Too Much Detergent

Using too much laundry detergent may prevent it from dissolving properly, leaving white residue on clothes, which appears as white clumps.

Rewashing these clothing items and running them through the dryer will help remove these clumps. In the future, using the correct amount of detergent should help eliminate this residue.

Using Non-High-Efficiency (HE) Laundry Detergents

HE washers are designed for use with HE laundry detergents only. Using non-HE detergent in an HE washer can result in white residue or “clumps” on your clothing. These clumps of unused detergent can be removed with an additional wash or dry cycle.

Not Running the "Clean Washer" Cycle

Periodically running the “Clean Washer” cycle with washing machine cleaner monthly helps prevent white residue on clothes.

It also eliminates excess detergent buildup.

Washer Water Is Too Cold

If you live in a northern climate and use powdered detergent in the colder months, chances are your washer may leave white residue on black clothes and other garments.
The water temperature may be too cold and may not correctly dissolve detergent, resulting in white “clumps” of undissolved detergent on the clothing.
To avoid white residue on clothes, you can:
  • Ensure your washing machine is regulating the cold water temperature as it should
  • Rewash the clothing with a cold water wash (60°F–80°F/15°C–26.7°C) to properly dissolve the detergent and then run the clothes through the dryer
  • Run hot water in the sink near your washing machine to ensure that hot water runs through the water line adjacent to it
Always check and follow your appliance use and care instructions and for more information related to the cycles on your washer.
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