Washer and Laundry Troubleshooting Guide

Is washer ruining clothes

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As with many tasks, when washing clothes there is a mechanical factor and a human factor. Washing machines that are not operating correctly mechanically can dramatically affect the cleanliness of our clothes. But there are also some human errors that prevent washers from producing the best results.

If you are noticing less than stellar results from your washer, here are some tips that may make your clothes look better.

Problem: Clothing is covered with lint or pet hair.


  • After washing pet bedding or extremely dirty items, clean the washer completely before washing the next load of laundry.
  • If dirty laundry is heavily covered with hair, soil, or lint, add an extra rinse to the cycle.
  • Use less detergent to reduce suds that can redeposit soil and lint on clothing.
  • Add one cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle. The vinegar will cut through detergent residue and help release any hair or lint trapped to the clothes.
  • Do not overload the washer. Clothes must have room to move around and room for rinse water to remove detergent and soil. Learn how to judge the correct size of a laundry load.

Problem: Clothing is extremely tangled when the cycle is over.


Problem: Clothes are not getting clean and stains don't budge.


  • Clothes will not come clean if the washer is overloaded. Water and detergent must reach every surface for complete cleaning.
  • Adding detergent improperly can reduce effectiveness. If you do not have automatic dispensers, the detergent and any additives should be added to the washer tub before clothes are loaded. Pouring the detergent on the top of the load reduces its effectiveness because some areas get too much product and others get very little.
  • Washers with automatic dispensers can become clogged with detergent. If clogged, not enough detergent will reach the clothes and reduce effectiveness. Clean the dispensers by pouring heated white vinegar in the dispensers and run a hot water cycle with the washer empty. Or, remove the dispensers and clean with a soft brush.
  • If you use too much detergent, the suds can keep the washer from working correctly. The additional suds do not rinse out well and actually redeposit soil onto clothes.
  • There are different cycle settings on your washer for a reason. Heavily-soiled clothing needs more time in the detergent solution to achieve cleanliness. It is also important to select the correct water temperature for the type of laundry and use the right type of detergent.

Problem: Clothes don't smell clean.


  • Odors can be transferred from an unclean washer to the fabrics. Clean your washer thoroughly.
  • Don't overload the washer. Clothes need room to move around and allow detergent and water to reach all surfaces.
  • Too much detergent redeposits soil and odors back onto fabrics. Cut back on the amount of detergent you are using and add one cup baking soda to help neutralize odors.
  • Add one cup of distilled white vinegar to the final rinse to help cut through any remaining detergent and let the rinse water pull it away.

Problem: Clothes go into the washer looking fine but come out with stains, rips, or holes.


  • Bleach stains: Chlorine bleach should never be poured directly onto fabric. If adding chlorine bleach, mix it with a quart of water before adding to the washer. Bleach dispensers can drip at inopportune times and deposit undiluted bleach on garments. This can happen even after the final spin cycle.
  • Ripped Clothing: Sashes, jacket strings, and thin straps can become entangled and even rip away from clothing. To prevent damage, remove loose embellishments or tie them closer to the garment. Wash delicate items on a delicate cycle. Always mend loose buttons or small seams before washing. The agitation in the washer can cause small rips to become much larger.
  • Holes in Clothes: Sharp items left in pockets can cause holes. Even zippers can tear fabrics. Check all pockets, zip zippers, and snap or hook fasteners before loading garments into the washer. Snags or holes can also be caused by a rough spot along the washer tub wall. Use a flashlight to check the washer drum for chipped finishes and repair promptly.
  • Rust Spots on Clothes: If rust spots appear on your clothes, there is probably a chip in the washer basket. The exposed metal will rust and stain your clothing. Again, use a flashlight to carefully inspect every inch. When you find the chip, use washer drum repair paint to correct the chip. Check the outside of your washer and dryer to be sure that rust is not getting on your clothes as you load and unload them. Follow these tips to remove the rust stains.
  • Black Spots on Clothes: The black spots could be mildew if you have allowed clothing to sit in the washer too long. Always remove wet clothes promptly. The black spots could also be grease if you have a problem with the washer motor. Open the back of the washer and if there is any spattering of grease on the washer case, repairs must be made. Follow these tips to remove the mildew or grease stains.
  • Grease Stains on Clothes: The grease spots that mysteriously appear are probably deposits of undissolved fabric softener or detergent. Clean dispensers and do not pour products directly on clothes. Follow these tips to remove the stains.