Dear Home-Ec 101,
I have been using my new front load washer for over a year now and now all of my towels are ruined. It doesn’t matter what color they are or were, they now all have large spots that look like I used chlorine bleach on them. Can you help? I have not changed detergent or softener. I have always used Gain or Tide for cold water and Downey softener.
I would like to buy new towels but don’t want to waste my money!
Bleached in Blean
In all honesty, I think front load washers are getting blamed for mystery bleach stains when the culprit may not even be in the laundry room. While it is certainly possible that bleach from one load is unfortunately getting into the next, there are simple steps you can take to reduce the occurrence of bleach stains from a front loading washer.
Wash your clothing from whites to darks. If you run a load of whites with chlorine bleach, make sure the next load is light colored fabrics and go ahead and fill the bleach dispensing cup with water to flush out the dispenser. The concentration of bleach should be low enough to not damage colorfast fabrics. If you want to be extra cautious, follow a white load with a load of rags or an empty load and add water to the bleach dispenser. Running an empty, hot load load is actually good for your washer and should be done occasionally.
Bleach and bleaching agents have been creeping into our cleaning and personal hygiene products. Do you happen to have a teen or preteen in your household? If so, I’m willing to bet that the culprit is their face wash or acne medication.
Speaking of unfair, that’s the culprit in my house. How the heck am I 33 and still dealing with this crap? If grey hair shows up before I grow out of acne, I quit. I just quit.
If no one uses acne products, do you have whitening toothpaste? What about mouthwash? Any of these products can easily be transferred to your towels. The trouble is the stains don’t show up immediately, they often take hours before any noticeable change appears. It usually goes something like this, apply acne medication before bed, wipe your hands on the towel, which then gets thrown in the hamper. The hamper is unloaded right into the washer which then takes the blame.
Before replacing your towels make sure everyone in the home understands that these products can and do stain. Personally, I’ve given up on “pretty” towels for the foreseeable future and have just gone with functional.
Submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.