Common staining problems

Everyone of us has seen at least some staining problems. The can range from yellowing, graying, or general discoloration to white streaks on jeans, or to greasy-looking spots. This page provides an overview of causes of some very common staining problems.

White streaks on dark clothes

Undissolved detergent not being completely rinsed out is a common cause of powdery streaks on dark clothes. This problem can be also caused by nonphosphate detergents depositing mineral residue in streaks formations. If this is the case, this problem can be remedied by changing detergents or by adding detergent to the wash water first, then adding clothes, and then starting the wash machine. Usually a repeat rinse cycle remove these white streaks too.

Rusty looking stains on collars

Rusty looking stains on collars, towels, pillow cases, sheets can be caused by the benzoil peroxide used in cosmetic products. Benzoil peroxide acts as bleach and is insoluble and hard to rinse off the body. Benzoil peroxide can permanently change colors of some dyes. The only remedy to this problem is its prevention by not using cosmetic products containing benzoil peroxide.

Greasy-looking spots

Greasy-looking spots can be caused by fabric softener. Fabric softener sheets can deposit softener unevenly which causes greasy-looking stains. These stains are common on silk-like polyester and blends of cotton/polyester broadcloth. You can notice this type of problem on medium-colored fabrics such as khaki and medium blue. This problem can be avoided by adding a fabric softener to the final rinse.

Yellowing, graying, general discoloration

Yellowing, graying, and general discoloration can have many causes, such as using insufficient detergent, washing in too-low water temperature, when too much detergent is used. Insufficiently rinsing out the detergent can cause this issue too. Yellowing on silk, spandex, or wool may be a result of fiber alteration due to improper use of chlorine bleach.


White streaks on blue jeans

White streaks on blue jeans are often caused by uneven abrasion of the jeans fabric. As the wash machine spins, the edges where the fabric is folded get more abrasion and rougher treatment. This causes the dye to bleed more from these areas as they are washed. This problem can be lessened by turning jeans inside-out before you put them into the wash machine. This will result in more even fading of jeans. Polyester/cotton jeans marked as colorfast retain their color better than cotton-only jeans.

Stiff, coarse textures, dull colors

Freshly laundered fabric being stiff and feeling harsh can be caused by nonphosphate granular detergents when they combine with hard water. This problem can be avoided either by using phosphate-based detergents, heavy-duty liquid detergents, or by adding a softener to the wash. This problem can be eased also by adding a nonprecipitating water conditioner with the nonphosphate granular detergent.

For common staining problems related to carpets, see our guide on how to clean carpet.
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