There’s nothing more annoying than pulling clean clothes out of a washing machine only to see that they’re still soiled and ridden with what looks like dirt! It can be very disheartening – especially when you need that one special dress for your night out…
But there’s usually a pretty good reason why your clothes leave your washing machine with gunk on them.
Check out the list of causes and solutions below, so you can eradicate this chaotic affair from your life right now!
Why Do Washing Machines Leave Gunk on Clothes?
There’s a whole load of reasons why your clothes are not being cleaned correctly by your washing machine.
You can read about the causes of this issue below so that you can find a solution to your mucky problems:
Cause 1: Putting too much detergent into the washing machine
This is the most likely culprit on this list, and it’s one that we’ve all done at some point during our washing routines… Yes, I’m talking about adding lots of detergent to the wash!
While you might think that extra dirty clothes need an extra helping of detergent to get clean, you’d actually be wrong.
Too much detergent, in fact, can cause the opposite effect, and it can leave clothes with lots of ugly stains on them after being washed!
It’s not a good look, especially when you’ve got these marks over colourful clothes. But lucky for you, there’s a really simple solution.
Solution: Follow measurements on the packaging
If you’re using too much detergent to wash your clothes, and this is resulting in your garments coming out of the wash soiled, just use less detergent.
It’s really as simple as that!
If you’re not sure how much detergent to use for the job, read the packaging on the bottle/box. And remember, less is best if you’re really overwhelmed by the measurements. You can also read our guide on how much washing powder to use.
Plus, the less detergent you use the healthier your bank balance will be because you won’t need to buy so much detergent all the time.
And finally, it’s worth pointing out that new washing machines, especially ultra-modern ones, use less water to save on pennies and to help the planet.
So, you’ve got to consider putting in less detergent because you might not have as much water as you think in the appliance in the first place. Too much detergent in this case would ultimately be left behind on clothes.
Cause 2: Using powdered detergent at very low temperatures
While using too much detergent is one way of not using it correctly, there are actually lots of other ways you can misuse detergent, including washing washing with powdered detergent at a temperature that is too cold.
Powdered detergent doesn’t always dissolve when it’s very cold, so it might leave marks on your clothes if you use it at lower temperatures of 20 or 30 degrees Celsius. While most modern washing powders are designed to work at these temperatures, you will usually get better results from a liquid detergent.
If you’re washing on a very cold day and you’re going to use a cold wash, you should dissolve the powder in a cup of warm water first.
Then, you just add the ‘warmed up’ liquified powder into the washing machine, and start a washing cycle as you normally would. Ultimately, you could change to a liquid detergent, but this isn’t for everybody!
Cause 3: Filter is clogged up
If you don’t keep up with cleaning your washing machine’s filter on a regular basis it will eventually become clogged up. While this may not be a massive problem to start off with, it can be very inconvenient!
What do I mean by this?
In a nutshell, if water and dirt aren’t getting out of the washing machine, and it’s getting trapped inside the appliance, then the dirt will naturally find its way back onto your once clean clothes.
You’ll then end up with mucky clothes that will need to be rewashed – and that’s not fun!
Solution: Clean it
The simplest solution to this problem is to locate the filter and clean it!
Check out our post for tips on how to clean out a washing machine’s filter here.
Cause 4: Overdoing it with the fabric softener
Some people like to go overboard with detergent and others just want silky soft clothes all the time, so they add in gallons of fabric softener when they clean their clothes.
Again, adding lashings of typically thick, fabric softener to your washing machine isn’t actually going to make your clothes feel any smoother. And it may, in fact, cause goo to form on your garments.
Solution: Consider the 4 solutions below
There are a couple of things you can do to rectify this issue:
- Only use an appropriate amount of fabric softener in your washing machine.
- If you like to put lots of fabric softener into your washing machine the chances are that this wee compartment in your washing machine’s drawer is filthy and ridden with slime – so wash it out. This can sometimes result in dirt finding its way into the drum and onto your clothes. Not sure how to clean this area out? Check out our post for advice on this here.
- Don’t even consider pouring fabric softener onto clothes – this will stain them and this is a whole new problem for you to sort out!
- Consider using white distilled vinegar to soften up your rough towels/cotton clothes. You can read more about using vinegar in the washing machine here.
Cause 5: Washing machine itself is actually dirty
It’s always easy to assume that an external force beyond your control is causing your gunky situation, but have you ever considered that the answer to your issue could be very simple…
Your washing machine is full of crud and you need to clean it.
Solution: Follow our guide to cleaning a washing machine
While it’s easy to assume that your washing machine must be lovely and clean because you’re using lots of lush, and fragrant, products to clean your clothes, but you’re actually barking up the wrong tree!
Washing machines are dirty if they aren’t maintained properly. And this filth will eventually find its way into and onto your clothes and it will set up a new home there.
So, keep your washing machines clean! Follow our step-by-step guide to cleaning a washing machine and your clothes will be filth-free in no time.
Cause 6: Too many clothes/items in the washing machine
We’ve all been in a rush to get clothes washed and we’ve added way too many tops and jeans into one wash. It sounds like a good idea at the time – you’re only doing the one wash, you’re saving time and money on products.
But it doesn’t quite work out right…
You see, adding too many items to one wash cycle means that clothes don’t have enough time and space to get sloshed around and washed. This means that some clothes will be washed to an ‘okay’ standard and others will remain ridden with gunk.
As it happens there’s a solid gold solution to this problem!
Solution: Don’t overload your washing machine
The simplest answer:
Don’t overload your washing machine with too many clothes. Do separate washes! Yes, it may take more time but your clothes will come out of the wash free from gunk.
Cause 7: Hard water
If you live in a hard water area you need to adjust your washing sessions to suit the type of water you’re going to be using.
What do I mean?
Basically, if you live in a hard water area, the water that will be used in your washing machine to clean your clothes will have a higher level of calcium and magnesium in it.
These minerals react with detergents that are used to clean clothes, and they can sometimes leave little marks on the garments.
It’s not hard to overcome this problem, all you need is some time and patience. Check out the solutions below.
Solution 1: Hotter wash and more detergent
If hard water is your problem you need to add more detergent to your washing machine before a cycle starts. This way you’ll have a good amount of detergent in the machine to clean your clothes and some of the detergents can be sacrificed to the hard water.
It’s preferable if you use a branded liquid detergent that is known to work well with hard water.
Solution 2: White vinegar
Another solution is to allow your soiled clothes to sit in a white vinegar and water mix for a few minutes.
Simply add 1 cup of white distilled vinegar and 4.5 litres of water into a bucket. Test this solution on an unseen piece of clothing and carry on with this method if all is well.
Next, pop your clothes in and wait around 30 minutes. Then you need to rinse the clothes and wash them in the washing machine again. This should remove any deposits that have been created.
Solution 3: Install a water-softening system
A more expensive option is to install a home water softener. This will pass the hard water through a cylinder that retains the minerals and leaves the water in your pipes softer.
How Can You Quickly Get Rid of Gunk Left Behind on Clothes?
If you just want a quick and easy solution to get rid of any messy deposits that have been left behind on your clothes, you can try these options:
- Wash your clothes again with no detergent in the washing machine. This should pull out extra detergent from the clothes. And a high heat setting will also agitate any stains (but obviously make sure your items can be washed in hot water before you do this).
- Add 1 cup of white vinegar to the fabric softener compartment in your washing machine’s drawer and start the hottest cycle that is suitable for your garments. Detergent is not required during this method. Remember to test the vinegar out on your clothes before you use it.
Stopping a problem from happening in the first place is always the best solution. So, think about these few points when doing your laundry:
- Use an appropriate amount of detergent in your washing machine.
- Use goods properly in the washing machine – detergent and fabric softener.
- Clean your washing machine regularly.
- Put the right amount of clothes into the washing machine.
- Think about your water.
- Use white distilled vinegar to clean your laundry instead of relying on detergent and thick fabric softeners.
Washing Machine Gunk FAQs
I have blue streaks on my clothes, what is this caused by and how do I get rid of them?
So, blue streaks are typically caused by overusing detergent and/or fabric softener in the washing machine. This problem is not uncommon but it will take time to remove these kinds of messy stains from your clothes.
This is what you need to do: Fill a large bucket with warm water and add in oxygen bleach. Don’t overdo it with the beach, follow the guidance on the back of the bottle.
Next, do a patch test on your clothes to see if the bleach marks/ruins them. If all is okay, pop your clothes in the bucket and leave them to soak like this overnight. (Keep similar colours together).
The next morning rinse your clothes well and wash them in the washing machine again. A small amount of detergent can be put into the machine if you think it’s needed.
I have brown dirt on my clothes, what is this?
Brown dirt on clothes is likely caused by a build-up of dirt in the machine. This problem can be cured very quickly by giving your washing machine a good and thorough clean!
Follow our steps above for tips on how to do this correctly – suitable for both front loading and top loading appliances.
Bethan has a passion for exploring, reading, cooking and gardening! When she’s not creating culinary delights for her family, she’s concocting potions to keep her house clean!