Clothes Turning Grey?

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There are a number of reasons your clothing – especially whites – can turn gray, or look dingy. Depending on the cause, there are several solutions. Here is a quick guide to solve your graying problems:

Reasons your clothes may turn gray:

First, did you separate your colors? Maybe a dark piece snuck in with your whites? If not, the cause could be from any number of things, these being the most common....

Not using enough detergent.

Overloading the washer – Clothes need room to agitate and circulate the detergent, as well as rinse clean, packing the washer too full prohibits this, so your clothes will start to become dingy and gray.

Not washing in the correct temperature – Yes, using cold water is fine for most wash loads - especially if you are using a detergent made for cold water. As a matter of fact, for energy saving purposes, many people choose to do most of their laundry in cold water. Just remember that you should try to wash towels and washcloths in hot water, as well as other fabrics occasionally in the warmest temperature allowable by the fabric.

Hard Water – If you have it and use laundry soap, it can turn the water into a nasty gray scum, which gets on your clothes.

Iron - Does bleach turn your water yellow (and your clothes)? This is caused by too much iron in the water.


For starters, the most obvious solutions would be in loading your washer properly – not overloading.

Use the correct amount of detergent.

Wash your laundry in the warmest temperature recommended by the care labels.

If you are dealing with whites that can be laundered in hot water, then try doing that along with the correct amount of detergent and bleach. If you cannot use bleach, read the last two hints below.

If you suspect water hardness or other mineral problem, the test your water. Testing kits are inexpensive (ex. WaterSafe All-In-One Test Kit). Companies that sell water softening equipment will also test your water, but my cynical side says they may have an interest in the results, so I would tend to look for resources that do not have money to make off of the results.

Water Hardness – If you have hard water, always use laundry detergent instead of laundry soap.

To solve severe yellowing problems on your whites, try washing with a product called Summit Brands IO30N Super Iron Out All-Purpose Rust and Stain Remover, 30 Oz. . This has solved the ‘iron in the well water’ problem we had and were of course, unable to use bleach. Chances are if you have iron in your water, the laundry is not the only place you will notice its presence. Iron out can be used in other areas of your home too, such as the dishwasher and tubs.

The same company also makes a laundry additive called Wb30n 30Oz White Brite - Summit Brands (Iron Out), which is used along with your regular detergent to help remove yellowing and dinginess. It can be used on all washable white and colorfast fabrics. This product also removes transferred dye stains and color runs that happen – for instance, when your red sock gets in the same wash load with your whites. Do not use bleach or peroxide with either of these products.