Cyndi has asked for help with dryer oil stains on fabric, which are a mystery stain to her
I'm not really sure where this stain comes from, but it's on dark clothes. I wash and dry my clothes with no stains, but then I pull them from the dryer to hang them and they sometimes have a small spot stain - it can be anywhere on the shirt (seems like it's always a t-shirt too).
It's maybe the size of a quarter in general and it looks like an oil stain maybe...I have tried treating and rewashing to no avail.
I use powdered laundry soap (commercial, 2 T), vinegar for a rinse all in a front load dryer. And no dryer sheets in the dryer. There are not other greasy oily clothes in the wash.
I can't seem to figure out how to get the stain out - or what it's from - any ideas?
Cyndi, I'm stumped.
When I first started reading your problem I thought you were going to tell me it looked like a rust spot, which can happen in hard water, especially if you use chlorine bleach.
An SR101 reader wrote in to help Cyndi with her dryer stains.
SR101 Reader says:
I had a similar issue. I asked my repairman what it could be and he said it could be the transmission seal leaking and causing the stains, which makes sense.
Not too much longer the transmission went out. Now we got a new one and no stains, but trying to find out how to get rid of the stains from the old washer.
Thanks for the help, and sharing what happened to you.
You make a good point -- there are some stains that come from the washing machine itself, and you just don't notice them until you've put the clothes through the dryer too, and are taking them out to fold.
Therefore, a good step in identifying where these mystery stains are coming from is to make sure if they're really coming from the washing machine or the dryer.
Later I realized my dryer had gradually gotten more noisy. I found that the "glides" supporting the drum in front were worn out.
They have a backing of cork material, which I think gets burned, breaks off in little bits, and goes into the clothes.
I won't know for sure until I have a stain-free half year, but since I've replaced those glides I haven't had any more stains since.
Thanks so much for this tip Philip.
I will confess I had no idea what dryer glides were into you mentioned them, and so I did a bit of research. I found the photo shown above, which shows a do it yourself home repair of the drum glide and main bearing.
In addition, here's a video from Whirpool which shows how to replace this part, which can hopefully help you identify it better to see if this is the problem causing your own mystery stains in the dryer.
I'm Having The Same Issue Too And I'm Completely Stumped
by SR101 Reader
I got this comment from an SR101 reader responding to Cyndi's problem with her mystery dryer stains.
SR101 Reader says:
I have been having the very same issue and am completely stumped.
With twin boys, stains are pretty common but this is happening to shirts that are not stained before I wash them!
I use Country Save detergent with Borax and I check every shirt for fugitive stains before I put anything in the dryer.
Then, once I pull the shirts out of the dryer, some will have tiny spots that look like grease on them. I did have a bit of success with Oxi Clean Power Gel but it didn't work every time it has happened which only deepens the mystery!!
Sorry to hear you are also having troubles. This seems, unfortunately, to be a common issue.
I know at least one reader (above) said they thought the stains were really coming from the washing machine, and I think that can be the problem sometimes. On the other hand, in your case since you specifically look for the stains after they come out of the washing machine that doesn't seem to be your issue.
That means these darn stains are most likely caused by a multitude of things! I'm still doing research on how to deal with it. I know another reader (see below) had some luck with a different laundry stain remover, so maybe you could try one of these and see how it goes! Good luck!
I'm Getting Straight Dry Brown Marks On Clothes From My Dryer
by SR101 Reader
An SR101 Reader wrote in to share the problem she's been having with her dryer staining her clothing.
SR101 Reader's Question:
I wash and dry my clothes and they come out of the dryer with long brown stains on them.
They don't look greasy at all.
I thought the dryer burnt my clothes but I used Biz and some scrubbing and they came out just fine.
But, the marks are on everything now. I've tried heavy loads, light load and half dry loads but still getting marks on everything.
Before putting anymore clothes in your dryer check and see if they are already stained, just to make sure the stain is not coming from the washing machine.
Assuming it is coming from the dryer, it sounds to me like something may be stuck on the inside of your dryer drum that is causing these marks and the clothes rub across it.
I would inspect it carefully, and also use a damp cloth with just a little soap and water and rub the inside of your dryer drum thoroughly seeing if you can see or feel anything that would be causing the problem. You can get some tips for dryer cleaning here, since exactly what you need to do may vary depending on what is inside it.
If that is not the problem for you, I am pretty stumped, since you say it doesn't look greasy or oily at all.
Anyone else have any suggestions of what she might need to do? Have you experienced anything similar before? You can share your cleaning tips here.
I Figured Out What Was Causing My Brown Streaks -- Needed To Replace Felt Gaskets In My Dryer Drum
I too was having a problem with brown "streaks" on random pieces of laundry when taking them out of the dryer.
After inspecting inside the drum (with a flashlight) I discovered there were small gaps between the felt gasket and the back of the drum. The gasket is kept in place with a yellow-brown glue. Over time, because of clothing rubbing on the felt as they are tumbled, the felt begins to pull away from the metal drum.
The marks on the clothing are made from getting caught in the gaps, whether from the glue or rust I'm not sure.
I had the felt replaced and the problem stopped. Until a year or so later, after inspecting the inside of the drum I found the same problem again.
I'm going to look at new dryers and see if they too use felt gaskets. It's not feasible to replace the felt gasket every year, it has to be done by a technician.
I find that it's almost always on the FRONT of the shirt and almost always on t-shirts or polo shirts, which makes me think it's not so much the dryer doing it.
It's frustrating, but Dawn does the trick. When I'm hanging up the clothes and I spot one of those...well, SPOTS...I douse the spot in Dawn (if it can degrease an oil-spill penguin, it'll degrease a mystery spot) and set it aside until I run laundry again. It always comes out fine after that. It's just irritating!
I too am from Iowa and get the same things on my dark T-shirts. I have observed and find they can go into the washer with NO SPOTS and come out of the dryer WITH spots.
I have found that scrubbing the spots with a small scrub brush after dousing the spot with the original blue Dawn liquid dish detergent (NOT dishwasher), and re-washing with warm water will get the dumb things out.
But, I also keep my eye open for the next time around. So frustrating. I think it's the water - it smells and tastes real chlorine-y too.
Thanks for sharing your tip for removing these stains Carrie and Tina.
After Much Trial & Error We Believe It Was Water From Our Water Heater
We've had the same mystery grease stain problem too! We've been fighting it for a few months with tears and total frustration, but I think I have the cause!! So these stains appear only on dark clothes and only on cotton (not blends, but 100% cotton). They would mostly appear on my kids' clothes because they're the ones that wear Tshirts in my house.
I first figured they must be fabric softener stains. So I stopped liquid fabric softener. Still there.
So I figured it must be my stain removers that I use so I stopped adding Borax, stopped treating with Shout Advanced (eliminating one at a time to try to find the problem). They'd still appear.
So then I switched to an all clear, natural type detergent and stopped using all dryer sheets. They were still there.
So then I read online and people said that it was probably motor oil leaking from the machine. Since I had eliminated all other possibilities, it had to be this. So even though we have no extra money to throw around and even though our washer/dryer set wasn't that old, we got rid of them, got new ones (well almost new from a family member). So now, the stains would have to be gone... yeah, still happening! (I cried so hard)
Since it wasn't the machine, we gave the washer to my Mother-in-law. She was not getting any stains.
The only thing that was the same was the water we were using. It had to be the water. So that meant either the water softener or the water heater. Since the softener is cheaper, we had a fella come out and check it. He ran water tests and everything was normal. (I cried again)
So I called a plumber and he explained that in the Madison (WI) area with American Standard water heaters, they were actually "gelling up." We didn't anyone come check it, but we thought we'd drain our water heater (which you're supposed to do every year and we never had and nobody else does either). So we drained it, expecting some gel to come out. Well the water came out a little dirty looking at first, so we put some in a glass to observe but were totally stumped and disappointed because it appeared to not be our problem.
The next day my husband went to dump the glass out and the nastiness had totally separated and the water was on the top and on the bottom was this greasy, milky stuff. Not exactly gel, but some greasyish stuff that sure could probably cause some grease stains!
So we bought a new water heater (right before Christmas, we're really excited about that bill). So hopefully life will be easier again. In case you want the science, my husband has been doing all this research, and this is what we've pieced together: In the center of the Water Heater there is an "anode rod." If they're made with aluminum (which many are) sometimes the minerals (stuff) in the water can break down the aluminum (or chemically reacts, I guess I don't know the verb), but it creates "aluminum hydroxide," which is the stuff you find at the bottom of your tank if you drain it. It isn't the more like metal/calcium looking chunks that are normal when you drain your water heater. It is impossible to get rid of in the water heater because it coats the tank and it makes your water heater less efficient (which is how many people find out they have it, they call a plumber because their water heater isn't working super great anymore, in our case, we found out this way.
If the stains persist, I will repost an update, but we really think our horrible mystery is solved (a million dollars and tears later)
I really hope this helps someone because it feels like we are the only people ever to go through this!
Jen wrote in to share that she was having a similar problem with dryer stains, and also responding to Cyndi's question.
I am having the exact same problem! It is always on my dark clothes and it seems like an oily stain.
I have front load washer and dryer, I always use liquid Purex, sometimes use dryer sheets, but there doesn't seem to be any consistency with the spots.
Luckily, after I notice them I can spray them with a stain remover (I use Shout) and re-wash. Sometimes it takes a few washings, but it always comes out. How strange.
I was just doing an internet search to see what I could find and stumbled upon your question. I thought about contacting Whirlpool (the brand of my machines) and see what ideas they might have. Good luck!
Thanks so much for sharing your experience too Jen.
It really sounds like you may be getting a fabric softener stain because it shows up more on dark colored clothing and you can remove it with a laundry stain remover. However, if you also get them when you don't use dryer sheets, that may not be the problem.
Remember though, just like I told the reader above, sometimes these stains are just noticed once you remove your clothes from the dryer, even though the stains themselves may come from the washing machine. You may need to check some of your clothes as you put them in the dryer to try to figure it out more.
I would love to hear from even more people who have mystery dryer stains, or washing machine stains, to hear what has worked for you in removing them, or figuring out what caused them to hopefully help more readers. Unfortunately, this can be a pretty common problem, but there are lots of potential causes of it that have to be investigated. You can share your own experience here.
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