You might be wondering why sometimes clothes get stained even after using detergent to wash them. Are detergents not meant to remove stains from clothes? Yes, they are, but due to the type of detergent or water quality, detergent can stain your clothes too. However, these stains don’t have to be permanent.
As long as you take action fast, detergent stains aren’t permanent. However, you need to know what detergent stains are and what causes them.
What Are Detergent Stains?
Detergent stains are residues from dissolved detergent or detergent mixed with hard water. They spot your clothes but aren’t so difficult to either prevent or get rid of.
What Causes Detergent Stains?
Naturally, detergents are made to remove dirt from your clothes, not stain them. But if they do, you need to identify the reasons so that you can prevent a recurrence. Below are some causes of detergent stains.
The quality of water used in mixing detergent for laundry determines if your clothes will have detergent stains or not. Hard water contains a high amount of dissolved minerals like magnesium and calcium.
As such, your detergent reacts to these minerals and becomes residues that stain your clothes, dishes, or any other thing you wash. You’ll know if the water you’re using is hard if it takes a long time to foam after adding a sufficient amount of detergent.
If you don’t stir or mix the detergent well with water, it might not dissolve. Instead, it’ll become a series of small residues, making it difficult for the water to foam and eventually stain your clothes.
Too many clothes at once
Under no circumstances should you rush to do your laundry. You don’t have to spend all the time in the world with it, but still, rushing won’t get the job done correctly. An instance of rushing is overloading your washer with too many clothes at once. There’ll be no space for the detergent and water to mix well, leaving spots on your clothes. Asides detergent stains, your clothes might be at risk of color bleeding, etc.
Your clothes don’t need all the detergent in the world to be clean. Just a little is enough, especially if the detergent foams quickly or if the water is soft. Most times, just half of the recommended amount of detergent is enough.
Finally, a dirty or faulty washer won’t wash your clothes properly. For instance, if the washer is clogged or the water pump fails when washing, your clothes would pay for it. If the washer is dirty too, your clothes would be cleaning the machine instead of the other way round.
5 Methods For Removing Detergent Stains From Clothes
Removing detergent stains from clothes is easy, as long as you follow due processes. There are quite a few ways; it’s left to you to make your choice.
1. Liquid dishwashing soap
You can use liquid dishwashing soap to remove the detergent stain from your clothes. You should go for the one that works well for grease removal. Soak the affected fabric in warm water first if it’s not against the instructions on the care label.
Then pour a bit of the soap on the spot and rub with your hands or a soft-bristled brush. Rinse and check if the stain has gone. If it hasn’t, repeat the procedure until it does. After, wash the cloth without detergent and air-dry.
2. Rubbing alcohol
Soak the clothes in warm water first before applying the rubbing alcohol on the spot of the stain. If the clothes aren’t warm-water tolerant, use regular water instead. Work the alcohol into the stain and rinse. Only stop the process when the stain has gone. Then, launder the fabric without detergent and air-dry.
3. Baking soda
Set your washer to wash and put the affected clothes. Then, add ½ cup of baking soda to the washer. Don’t use any detergent or hard water. After washing, check if the stain has gone. If it hasn’t, repeat the process. After, rinse the cloth and air-dry.
4. Bar soap
There’s a place for your bar soap too! Bar soaps are usually mild but effective, so you can be sure they’ll do the trick. After soaking the fabric in warm water, rub the affected spot with the bar soap and hand wash gently. Rinse with regular water and air-dry.
You can expect the multipurpose vinegar to come to the rescue of your clothes! Soak the affected clothes in undiluted vinegar for about 20 minutes but no more than 30 minutes. After, rinse and air-dry.
Ensure the stain has gone before you air-dry. If you don’t have enough vinegar to soak the clothes, you can dilute the little amount you have with water. But if vinegar seems too strong for you because of its smell, you can try other options.
All these methods are suitable for removing detergent stains but might not work well for the stains that are set already. For such stubborn detergent stains, you need to soak them overnight using one of the methods above, except vinegar.
Can You Avoid Detergent Stains On Your Clothes?
Yes, you can. You don’t have to go through the stress of removing detergent stains from your clothes when you can avoid them in the first place. Check these foolproof ways to do so!
Mix the water and detergent well
Don’t dump your clothes into the water unless you’ve thoroughly mixed the detergent in it. After pouring the detergent into the water, use your hands to stir the mixture until no residues are left. The powder must blend well with the water; you shouldn’t be seeing it.
Use the right type of water
The type of water you use is very important. Hard water is a major cause of detergent stains, but does that mean you shouldn’t use it for your laundry? No. However, you can only use it with liquid detergent. Powdered detergent dissolves poorly in hard water but works well in soft water.
Use a clean washer
Your washer needs to be cleaned as well. Make it a routine to clean the dirt, grease, residues, etc., in your washer. This way, your clothes won’t be washing the machine when it should be the other way round.
Ensure you follow the appropriate steps when cleaning your washer. If it’s a front-load washer, open it when it’s not in use to allow airflow. Check this video for more information on how to clean your washer:
Don’t overload your washer with clothes
Overloading your washer with clothes never ends well. Your clothes might have detergent stains, bleed on one another, the washer can develop faults, etc.
Besides, the cleanliness of such clothes can be doubted even after taking them out of the washer since water and soap didn’t penetrate them well. Sort your clothes into batches and add them to the washer until it’s ⅔ full in a loosely-packed manner. Don’t exceed the recommended capacity.
Use the right detergent
The quality of the detergent can’t be overlooked. You can’t use a poorly-made detergent and expect your clothes not to be stained. This is why not every detergent on the shelf is suitable for your clothes. There are things to consider when choosing a detergent, such as the ingredients, the type of clothes it can wash, the kind of water it works with, etc.
5 Things To Consider When Buying Detergent
There are three major types of detergent: liquid, powdered, and pods. Powdered detergent is the most popular and cheapest. It’s great for removing different kinds of stains. Liquid detergent can be easily measured, but detergent pods are the most expensive. Besides, pods aren’t safe to use if you have kids around. When buying detergent, consider the following.
Not all detergents are suitable for sensitive skin. For instance, detergents that contain sulfates, dyes, and fragrances will likely cause complications for people with sensitive skin. As such, if your skin is sensitive, go for hypoallergenic detergents. Check the list of ingredients to confirm sulfates, dyes, etc., aren’t included.
Another thing to consider is the compliance of the detergent with your washer. If your washer is very effective, you need a high-quality detergent. Using a poorly made one would ruin the machine. Also, if the detergent needs to be mixed in warm water to work and your device doesn’t allow hot water cycles, that’s a disservice already. As such, buy detergent that works best with your washer.
Besides looking out for the health of your skin and care of your washer, you need to consider the wellbeing of your environment too. Agitations are rising every day about the failing sustainability of the earth, and you shouldn’t be contributing to this depletion.
Make it a point of duty to buy only eco-friendly detergents. Many manufacturers now make their products more sustainable to favor the ecosystem.
Even if you’re not allergic to fragrances, you might want your clothes to smell a certain way. Remember that your clothes take on the fragrance of the detergent used in washing them. As such, choose detergents that smell nice or that have your favorite scents.
Your detergent should do beyond removing the obvious dirt from your clothes; it should get rid of the body oils and sweat too. If it doesn’t, the oils will accumulate in your clothes and reduce their quality over time.
If you’re not sure about the effectiveness of a detergent, you can check out the ingredients and read reviews about the brand online. Keep in mind, that effectiveness doesn’t always correlate with price – a good detergent doesn’t have to be expensive.
Detergent stains on your clothes aren’t necessarily permanent and can often be avoided. You can do this by dissolving detergent in water properly before adding your clothes, using the suitable detergent and type of water, etc. As much as possible, ensure you get rid of detergent stains as they ruin the quality of your clothes if left for long.
Jessica Oliver is a fashion enthusiast with more than ten years of experience in the industry. She previously managed her own clothing store in New York before becoming a mother of three. With a passion for sustainability and a desire to share clothing care and recycling tips.