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white residue sitting on top of a clothing garment

White Residue on Clothes After Washing : Top 10 Causes

Why Do My Clothes Have a White Residue After Washing?

It is important that our clothes are clean when they come out of the washer and are ready to go to the dryer. When you pull an article of clothing out of the washing machine, the last thing you want to see is a white residue.

What Causes White Residue on Clothes?

A white residue on your clothing after washing may be caused by a number of reasons and there are a few ways to prevent it from happening again. Ten common culprits are outlined below.

1. An Excessive Amount of Detergent

Using too much detergent per load, especially if the water isn’t hot enough for it to dissolve, can cause a white residue. The appearance of this type of residue might be clumpier than others. 

2. Dirty Washing Machine

Washing clothes in a dirty washer can lead to numerous problems, from smelly odors to white residue. Taking a damp washcloth and cleaning the inside of your washer regularly is a good practice. Keeping your washer clean with affresh® may also help eliminate excess buildup.

3. Reactions From Body Soils

As a result of detergent interaction with certain body soils, a residue may form that is different from lint, but appears similar to undissolved detergent. Often, this type of residue accumulates in fabric folds and wrinkles and can be widely distributed throughout the fabric load and on individual garments. 

It is possible for body soil residue to become more prevalent when using warmer water, compared to typical undissolved detergent residue. This type of residue is also more likely to form in mixed loads (such as cotton mixed with synthetic garments), where synthetic fabrics may inhibit mechanical action due to their lower friction.

4. Undissolved Powdered Detergent

When using powdered laundry detergent, it may not dissolve completely. Before loading clothes, pour powdered detergent into the empty washer first. This will give it the best chance of dissolving completely.

The powdered detergent may not dissolve completely in cold water, especially in cold weather. Be sure to dissolve the powder in hot water first, or switch to liquid detergent.

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5. Clogged or Failing Water Pump 

In a slow-draining washer, lint, undissolved detergents, and soil can collect on clothes.

New washers allow you to access the filter right above the water pump through a small door at the bottom. Older washers require cleaning the pump area from the back.

It is likely that the water pump is failing if you have cleaned the filter and the washer is still slow to drain. Consult your washer’s user guide or schedule an appointment with a Certified Technician for assistance.

6. Using Non-High-Efficiency (HE) Laundry Detergents

It is recommended that you use only HE laundry detergent in an HE washer to avoid white residue or “clumps”. These clumps of unused detergent can be removed by washing or drying the item again.

7. Overuse of Fabric Softener

It is important not to directly apply fabric softener to wet clothes, and to use the smallest amount recommended. Clean your automatic dispenser if you have one on a regular basis.

8. The Washer is Overloaded

It is easy to save time by washing a full load of laundry, however, cramming too much into the washer makes it difficult to remove soil and residue.

9. Not Using the “Clean Washer” Cycle

Using the “Clean Washer” cycle in your washing machine regularly can help prevent white residue on clothes as well as excess detergent buildup.

10. Washer Water Is Too Cold

When the water temperature is too cold, detergent may not dissolve correctly, leaving white “clumps” on the clothing.

Affresh cleaning product

How Do I Remove White Residue on Clothes?

Rewashing your clothing items may be necessary to remove white residue. 

We also recommend using the “Clean Washer” cycle with affresh® once a month as this may help eliminate excess detergent.

If you’re still noticing white residue on your clothes, our Certified Technicians can help. Schedule an appointment or call us toll-free at 1-833-585-7767 (PROS)

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