6 Reasons Clothes Look Dirty After Washing

6 Reasons Clothes Look Dirty After Washing

Tired of dirty laundry that fights back? We explain why fabrics come out filthy and how to prevent it from happening again. 

Laundry can get dirty inside the washer or fail to come out clean. The reasons include washer problems like a faulty machine or a drum. Laundry mistakes also contribute. The most common mistakes are not cleaning the drum, overloading, and using incorrect amounts of fabric softener or detergent.

Doing the laundry is thankless and hard work. You can avoid repeating this chore by learning all about the common reasons why clothes are soiled after washing.

The Top 6 Reasons Why Clothes Appear Dirty After Washing

Laundry does not always come out looking lemony fresh. Sometimes, we open the washer and the clothing are smeared, got gunky stuff on them or the stains are still there. Are you cursed? It might feel that way but relax. There is no hex on your washing machine (we hope). 

Below are the most common reasons why laundry fails happen:

  1. The washing machine is faulty.
  2. The washing machine contains dirt from a previous load.
  3. The drum is rusty.
  4. Using incorrect amounts of detergent.
  5. Using too much fabric softener.
  6. Overloading the washing machine with clothes.

The Washing Machine Is Faulty

If your washer is sick, there will be other symptoms besides failing to clean clothes. Your washing machine could show these signs:

As with all large appliance, the best option is for a qualified and trusted person to diagnose the problem. If your appliance is still under warranty, do not hesitate to contact the manufacturer for advice, repairs or a possible replacement.

The Washing Machine Contains Dirt From A Previous Load

6 Reasons Clothes Look Dirty After Washing

Urg. Another chore. Correct – if you do not clean your washing machine, things can get dirty. Literally! Luckily, there is some good news. If you add a load of laundry to the machine and it is not particularly dirty, then the chances are that you do not need to clean the washer before using it again. 

However, if you wash a particularly dirty batch, then residues will remain behind. If not removed, they will cling to the new load and cause the laundry to become dirty. It is important to clean the washing machine beforehand and save yourself from having to wash the laundry all over again.

Save yourself a heap of trouble and try these 10 top tips on how to do laundry perfectly every time.

How To Clean A Washing Machine

  • Always keep the detergent slots clean.
  • Wipe the inside of the drum with a damp cloth after every dirty load of washing.
  • Run a cycle with vinegar or baking soda. 

The Drum Is Rusty

You will know that this is the case when the blemishes on the laundry are brown or reddish. If you cannot find rusty spots, then there might be another problem and you need to call a plumber to check the water quality and the machine. 

But should you discover that the drum itself is rusting, then it will have to be replaced. Once again, this is something a professional repair service must deal with. Some people try to lengthen the lifespan of their rusty drum by applying homemade pastes that include lemon or baking soda and scrubbing the spots. But this only lengthens the inevitable. 

Using Incorrect Amounts Of Detergent

6 Reasons Clothes Look Dirty After Washing

There are two ways to use detergent the wrong way – adding too much or too little. 

When you use too little, that explanation is pretty simple. Your laundry does not have enough detergent to become clean and that is why they are still full of stains at the end of the washing cycle. You can normally fix this situation by closely following the instructions that come with the detergent or add a little more next time.

When you use too much, that is when you might notice any of the following signs:

  • The washing machine has developed a bad odour. (You can read more about why your washing machine smells and how to fix the problem).
  • There is mould or mildew on the clothes or inside the machine. This is a hazard to anyone in your family who suffers from allergies or asthma.
  • Soap scum tarnishes the clothes instead of cleaning the laundry.
  • There are inexplicable stains and marks on the laundry.
  • At the end of the cycle, the clothing is wetter than normal.
  • Your washing machine develops problems with its pump and motor.

As you can see, too much detergent can damage the washing machine. Always stick to the recommended amounts or when the “correct” amount triggers these signs, reduce the detergent until you see an improvement. 

We have all wondered why laundry powder or liquid is so bat-crazy expensive. In case you are interested, we compiled the top 5 reasons why laundry detergent is expensive

Using Too Much Fabric Softener

We totally get it. Fabric softener can make certain items of clothing fluffy and wonderful to wear. But the product is not without its flaws. Similar to laundry detergent, it can also soil clothing and cause irreparable damage to a washing machine. 

This does not mean that you should not use your favourite fabric softener. If you use the correct amount and sparingly, then your clothes and washing machine should survive. Follow the same principle as with laundry detergent. Only use the amount of softener indicated on the bottle and when this soils your clothing, reduce it a little and see what happens. Keep this up and you will soon find the right amount of softener for the best results. 

There is also a concern that using too much fabric softener is actually bad for your health. Organizations that support natural living claim that the chemicals can harm you and the environment. You can read more about why you might want to stop using fabric softener.

Overloading The Washing Machine With Clothes

Every washing machine has a weight limit. The most common limits include 7 kg and 12 kg loaders. But whatever the limit of your appliance, never go beyond it. Overloading causes strain on the machine itself, especially with the turning mechanism and drum. The detergent and fabric softener also cannot properly do their job. 

You will add years to your washer’s life if you respect its capacity. Just do a quick check before you add the laundry – weigh yourself twice, with and without the laundry. Subtract the two numbers and you will know the weight of the bundle about to go into the wash!

A Quick Summary On Why Clothes Are Dirty After Washing

  • It’s never normal for clothing to be dirty after washing – something has gone wrong.
  • The problem can be mechanical or a laundry mistake.
  • Mechanical problems include faulty washers and rusty drums. 
  • Laundry mistakes include using incorrect amounts of detergent or softener, overloading the washer or not cleaning the inside of the drum. 
  • A washing machine can clean clothes for a long time if it is properly maintained and operated within its limits.

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About the Author Harry Thompson

Involved in home renovations throughout his life, Harry is an expert in everything to do with home and garden DIY. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and tending to his garden.