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What Causes Orange Stains on Clothes After Washing?

clothes with orange stain

You’re not the only one fed up with orange stains on your clothes after using the washing machine. This widespread problem can, thankfully, be found and fixed with some investigative work.

There can be several things that are causing these mysterious orange marks, but rust is the most prevalent cause of orange or brown stains on clothes after being washed. Iron and oxygen combine to form iron oxide, or rust when water acts as a catalyst in the chemical reaction. As washing machines retain water from time to time, rust can easily form inside of them.

It may not even be the machine itself, rust can come from any part of the plumbing system. There are also other possible causes, from deodorant stains, to some alien objects mixed in with your washing.

Rusting Components Inside Washing Machine

Everyone knows that water causes metal to rust, and washing machines are made of metal and are exposed to water, so naturally, some components will succumb to rusting.

While stainless steel and plastics are used more frequently in the production of modern machines, rust is less likely to be a problem in these appliances.

Your washing machine will need to be checked over by a specialist if these orange stains are appearing with every wash load, as this could be a sign of rust inside the machine.

You may need to get a new washing machine if the rust problem is severe enough to cause stains on your garments. This can get pricey, but there are a number of excellent equipment available nowadays.

Dirty Water

Commonly, when people think of rust, they picture rust on old metal, however, iron oxide can also be present in water supplies in minute amounts.

As water can include rust particles while still looking transparent, this source of rust can be harder to notice than the first two.

We advise buying a water test kit if you believe this may be the reason for the orange stains on fabrics. When soaking, the included strip of paper reveals the chemical makeup of the tap water.

If the iron oxide is discovered in your water supply, the best approach to get rid of it is to install a water filtering system, which might be costly.

A water-softening system is less expensive, but it will only work if your water has very little rust in it.

Even though iron, calcium, and magnesium are typically removed from city water through municipal treatment, the process is often ineffective. Water treatment facilities typically only use chlorine or chloramine, which can reduce or remove iron levels in the water, to purify the supply. Unfortunately, it does not work on calcium or magnesium.

Even if iron is removed during the treatment process for city water, it typically re-enters the supply after leaving the treatment facility. This is due to the fact that the water in many areas still travels through rusty, iron pipes before arriving at your washbasin.

Little pieces of iron fall into the water as the pipes corrode and wear away over time. Construction-related disruptions to water lines can potentially increase the volume of contaminated water that flows through them.

Related: Type of Water for Steam Iron and Steam Generator Iron

Because of this, you should see if the iron content of your water is high because of the age of your pipes. A professional plumber can check your pipes and verify if your neighbours are experiencing the same problems. If other people in your area are also experiencing this, it’s likely due to an issue with the local service lines.

Hard Water on Your Clothes

dirty washing machine heating element

Both calcium and magnesium, which are found in high concentrations in hard water, do not contribute directly to the formation of rust stains but could cause stains from limescale buildup in the machine.

A solid, sticky substance is produced when laundry detergent is combined with calcium and magnesium. This orange curd-like substance doesn’t remove dirt from garments; rather, it clings to them and keeps them dirty.

This residue can discolour the clothes and leave them feeling stiff and dirty even after washing. Fabric fibres can break and holes can form in clothing washed in extremely harsh water. Check your water hardness and your washing machine for any limescale buildup.

Orange Stains from Deoderent

We’ve all seen those orange stains under the armpits of tops and t-shirts from antiperspirant spray, but some people spray antiperspirant across the entire top for the smell – big mistake. Proteins in perspiration react with aluminium and other compounds in antiperspirants to create unsightly orangy stains.

On its own, sweat has no discernible taste or appearance. You have two types of sweat glands, eccrine (located in your palms) and apocrine (located in your underarms), which create various types of perspiration on the body. Sweat from the apocrine gland, as opposed to the eccrine gland, contains lipids and proteins that can cause discolouration and a foul odour.

Most antiperspirants, both over-the-counter and prescribed, contain aluminium. Sadly, a stubborn yellow stain forms under your arms when perspiration and antiperspirant combine.

Rust Inside Pipes

Last but not least, rust in your washing machine could be caused by something that has nothing to do with the machine itself.

The rusty pipes that bring water to your washing machine could be to blame. Rust particles will be sucked in with the water and eventually accumulate in the machine’s drum.

This is more common in older homes, but it’s still worth investigating if a water test kit shows no rust and there are no signs of corrosion in the machine.

The rust buildup will only become worse with time, therefore unfortunately new pipes will have to be installed.

Finding and replacing any rusted main pipes will require the expertise of a professional plumber.

Forgen Object in the Washing or Pocket

Eventually, everyone washed an article of clothing without first checking its pockets. This can be done with little effort and rarely results in any complications.

On the other hand, if you have any metal objects in your pockets, they may become caught in the washing machine and rust over time. Every time you wash your clothes, this rust seeps into them.

The good news is that rust in the washing machine can be easily remedied by eliminating the presence of any foreign metal objects.

Checking for objects in the washing machine:

Open the appliance’s door, turn it off, and use a torch to peek inside.

Paperclips, keychains, and keys are common metal things that might be found in machines; remove them.

When you’ve emptied the machine of debris, give it a good cleaning to get rid of any lingering rust. You can accomplish this by substituting apple cider vinegar or lemon juice for the laundry detergent in an empty wash cycle.

I’ve seen orange kids candy and makeup left in pockets and washed in a machine, only to cause a mess of stains, so always check the laundry load.

Are Orange Rust Stains Permanent?

Clothes stained orange by the washing machine are bothersome, but they can be readily removed with the appropriate cleaner.

Many individuals use bleach to get rid of stains on white garments. In spite of the fact that it works wonders on most stains, you shouldn’t use it on rust because it will only make the iron more oxidised and the stain even more noticeable. You should use one of the three alternatives for cleaning that I’ve listed here.

Fabric Stain Remover

cleaning orange stains

Rust removal treatments are widely available and can be used to eliminate the orange discolouration caused by rust.

The following are general guidelines that apply to the majority of cleaners but should be read in conjunction with the specific instructions included in the package:

  • Saturate the stained area with stain remover.
  • Wait a few minutes to see if the cleaner has penetrated the fabric.
  • Simply use regular detergent and let the item air dry.

The White Vinegar

These are several homemade options you might try if you don’t like using store-bought cleaners. White vinegar is our initial suggestion. Since this is a common household item, it can be used as a quick-fix solution.

Use these instructions to get rid of the rust spots for good:

  • Soak the discoloured area in white vinegar.
  • Use a cloth to very gently blot the stain
  • Just run it through your regular wash cycle in the washing machine.

The cause of the yellow brown, or orange staining you find on clothes that come out of the washing machine will require some investigation. With the ideas and solutions above, you should have no trouble getting to the bottom of the issue.