Is this the reason why your HE/front loading washing machine is staining your clothes?

Sometimes I’m amazed at what threads are popular on this blog and which ones are not.  Seems everyone is having a lot of problems with their HE/front loaders staining. Things were going along smoothly with our HE machine for the last few months and then the dreaded stains appeared on my clothes too. What happened and what are the things you may want to know…

Separate your colors very carefully – Since the HE/front loaders use less water you have to separate your colors more carefully because of the dyes in the clothes themselves.  With your old washer the dye would let out of your clothes, but since there was more water to dilute the dye it didn’t stain your other clothes during the washing process. With HE/front loaders one rogue red sock accidentally mixed in with your whites can cause havoc.

New clothes – Should be washed separately the first few times.  New material/clothes (especially cottons) are more susceptible to dye leaking from them the first few times they are washed and can stain your other clothes.  

Stripes or clothing with more than one color on it.  Different colored stripes or different colors on one piece of material can leak different colored dyes at the same time.  If you are wondering how a one plain colored piece of clothing ended up with multi-colored stains on it this can be the reason why.

Fabric softener stains.  Try another brand of fabric softener and look for ones that do not have blue or colored dyes in them.  A lot of repairmen do not recommend liquid fabric softener for HE/front loaders period. I use dryer sheets instead.  Since I have a large capacity HE washer/dryer I use two dryer sheets when I’m drying a large load and two dryer sheets when I’m drying towels as they turn out much softer that way.

Detergent stains – Use a cycle that uses more water, add a second rinse cycle, try less detergent or a different brand of detergent. My own observation after trying several kinds of HE detergent is that the stronger smelling ones stained clothes more readily than the weaker smelling ones. I also was told to dampen the detergent stain with water and use ivory bar soap to remove detergent stains.

Other stains – Your HE/front loader may not be able to clean certain stains on its own. You may have to pretreat the stains beforehand. There are various stain removal guides available on the internet.  Click here to see one.


Certain types of materials are more prone to dye leaking from them than others.  This includes cotton, rayon, silk, wool and linen.  Nylon and spandex can let dye the first times you wash them too. Acrylic, polyester and fleece generally don’t leak dyes, but if they are blended with other types of materials they may.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. coconews
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 09:49:56

    Have you had problems with your HE/front loader staining? Did you manage to figure out the problem and remove the stains? Are you ready to throw out your front loader out the door because your stain removal techniques have all failed?

    Sound off here!

  2. Phil
    Dec 03, 2008 @ 12:42:50

    I bought the Whirlpool Duet washer and dryer. The dryer is ok but the washer is horrible. It seems that a front loading washer cannot make clothes come clean because of the small amount of water it uses. This washer and dryer are just about 1 year old and I am so sorry I bought them. Looks should be a much later second thought when buying an appliance that is used so much as a washer. I had a top loader before this and there is no comparison. The truth is a top loader cost less and works better… last comment is dont ever ask an appliance salesperson which is better because none of them no SH*t from Shineola.

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