Dawn asked: Why do my dark clothes come out with spots and how can I stop it? It’s generally my husband’s and baby’s clothes, the darker materials. I wash them in warm water, but after drying, they have oily-looking spots on them. If I then spray them with Spray ‘n Wash and rewash them, my husband’s shirts usually come clean. However with my baby, I’ve used Spray ‘n Wash and added some Biz to the load, but they still look oily!
Oily spots on laundry can be caused for a variety of reasons. Look through our reasons below to help identify a possible source of the problem. Following that there is a list of guides that will help remove the stains.
Possible Causes of Oily Spots on Laundry:
- Sometimes the problem lies in the washer itself. The transmission begins to leak oil and leaves spots all over the laundry pieces. Unfortunately, the only solution is a new transmission. This is a costly repair, and it may be cheaper just to get a new washing machine.
- Dirt and oils can become trapped under the agitator (in top loading machines). If possible, remove the agitator to clean the inside as well as the portion of the tub that is covered by the agitator.
- Liquid detergents can become built up on the outer edges of the tub. As it is drained through the holes, the detergent begins to build up. This can leak back into the laundry and result in spotting on the clothing. Use a Washer Cleaning Product, or simply run the washer on empty on the largest load setting and add either a can of Coca Cola or a cup of white vinegar (and nothing else).
- If there are oily rags or cloths (even kitchen cloths and towels can be the culprit) in the laundry, the grease that is removed from the cloths may be transferring to the other clothing. Always wash these separately, and if possible, pre-wash them by hand in the sink with some dish liquid.
- Reactions between laundry detergents and fabric softeners can leave spots on the clothing. If the spots come off with a simple hand washing, this may be the problem. Skip the fabric softener for a few loads to see if the problem persists as well. White vinegar can be used as an alternative to commercial fabric softeners, just add a splash (about 1/4-1/2 cup to a large load) to the rinse cycle.
- One site user wrote in (Thanks!) to say they had this problem and it turned out the spots were mineral deposits from hard water, which they were able to remedy by adding a water softener to their laundry.
Removing Oil Spots from Laundry:
Here’s how to remove the spots that led you to this guide!
The easiest and most general method is to re-wash the items (after solving the cause of the issue) and add a can of Coca Cola to the washer instead of detergent. Be sure to let the washer fill before adding the soda so it is diluted in the water right away rather than poured direcrly onto the clothing. If you aren’t comfortable using coke, use a cup of white vinegar instead. This method is much faster that treating each spot individually and can be especially helpful in case some of the spots are hard to find so they don’t get missed. It would be best to air dry the items until you are certain the oil stains have been removed. If the stains remain or you would like a different treatment option, use of these guides:
- To remove general oil spots, such as from food products or body products, see the guide How to Remove Grease Stains.
- To remove spots caused by engine oil, see the guide How to Remove Engine Oil and Grease Stains.
- To remove chapstick grease spots from clothing, see the guide How to Remove Chapstick from Clothing.
Additional Tips and Advice
- If the oily spots are appearing in the dryer, check for a tossed lip balm or other oily product that may have accidentally found its way to the dryer. An easy test for this is to place a clean, spot-free, damp cloth in the dryer. Check it for spots after it’s dried.
- Sometimes the spots are only noticeable on dark fabrics due to the light colored stains produced by grease. They may still be present on white clothing, but not as noticeable.
- As an additional stain removal method, some have had success soaking the affected items in OxiClean and then washing.
- If you have trouble finding the oil spots, you can put the shirt under a blacklight to be sure if its clean.