What Causes Those Mysterious Stains on Your Clothes That Appear Only After Washing?

Updated on February 16, 2018

What causes stains on white clothes? What causes yellow spots on white clothes?

Commonly used laundry, skin care, beauty, and personal hygiene products can cause stains and color changes in white or yellow garments. Toothpaste, perspiration and facial soap along with deodorants and hair sprays are often the cause of stains on garments.

Strong perfumes with alcohol and even rain (acid rain especially) can leave spotty stains if it has picked up impurities from the air. All these stains may eventually dry up not causing any visible stain however, age and exposure to heat will cause them to reappear.

What causes yellow spots on clothes after washing? What causes pink stains on laundry?

Your clothes are just out of the washer or just home from the dry cleaners and you spot a stain. You remember looking at the garment before it was washed or before it was taken to the cleaners and you did not see any stain. How did the mysterious stain get on your clean clothes?

Each year, the International Fabricare Institute analyzes thousands of garments with mystery stains in the laundry.

Spills that dry clear cause a great number of unknown stains. Common invisible stains are soft drinks, corn syrup, some fruit juices and honey. If the stain is not pre-treated before the garment is laundered or dry-cleaned, it may oxidize into a yellow stain from the heat from the cleaning process and the stain may be set.

Water soluble dyes used in garments can stains to appear after a garment is washed or dry-cleaned. Dye transfer can occur in both expensive and inexpensive items. Price does not determine colorfastness. If a garment is cared for as stated on the label and there is a dye transfer, return the item to the store.

On the day there didn't seem to be time to check the pockets before doing the laundry, that's the day you will find crayon or lipstick stains on white garments. If the crayon or lipstick gets into the dryer, the drum may be stained. Use a spray cleaner, a laundry pre-treat product, or a mildy abrasive cleanser. After cleaning, tumble a load of wet rags or dry towels on regular temperature for at least three minutes. There may be signs of the stains on the drum, but they will not transfer to future loads.

For items stained with crayons, rewash in hot water as hot as possible with an all fabric bleach and detergent. If the stains are from lipstick, use a solvent-based cleaner on the spots and add cleaner to the wash water.

Some stain removal solutions can cause more problems than they solve.

Club soda is only useful if applied immediately before certain stains have set. It is not effective on oily stains and may cause problems on fabrics sensitive to water such silk and rayon.

Alcohol from hair spray is what removes some ink stains, but it can also remove some fabric dyes. Be safe and use rubbing alcohol and test in an inconspicuous area.

Your grandma may have told you to hang clothes out on a bright sunny day to get the clothes white. This practice of our grandmothers was effective in making their white clothes whiter long before manufacturers would add optical brighteners to fabric softeners to enhance the whiteness of white clothes.

Today hanging the clothes out in the sun may in fact cause garments to turn yellow. This is due to the optical brighteners used in many fabric softeners and detergents today. These brighteners actually break down in sunlight which can cause a yellowing of the garments which could cause those mysterious stains on clothes.

Type of substances that can leave ugly stains on your clothes

  • Ink
  • Blood
  • Red wine
  • Mud
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Ketchup
  • Tomato sauce
  • Fruit juice
  • Grease/Oil
  • Grass
  • Perspiration
  • Chewing gum
  • Rust

Questions & Answers

    © 2011 Zee Mercado


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    • WAHmom profile image

      Zee Mercado 7 years ago

      Hi Marie, thanks for the welcome message. Do i need to sign up for that hubmob site?

    • MPG Narratives profile image

      Marie Giunta 7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Welcome to hubpages WAHmom and you are doing well already with 4 hubs. If you do want more info about hubbing visit the learning center or for more of a challenge why not join a hubmob, http://hubpages.com/info/hubmob. Topics change weekly so choose one that interests you. Enjoy being part of this great writer's site, cheers Marie, member of hubgreeters team.