What the what? I’ve lived in a house that had rust in the water before, and that turned laundry orangish. This load of white towels, which went into the washer with Tide and Oxiclean, came out day-glo greenish yellow. Clorox didn’t help and they’re now soaking with salt and vinegar because I couldn’t think of anything else to try… and it doesn’t appear to be helping.
What happened? Did my toddler throw something in there?
No idea what happened but the rust+oxiclean theory sounds plausible enough. Peroxide bleach (which Oxiclean is) isn’t really that strong as far as whitening power. I’d try ammonia in the wash water. If the dye is bonded to fatty residue (body oils, etc) ammonia will strip it. “Sudsing” or laundry ammonia has some soap added and instructions for use on the bottle.
I hope it goes without saying, but never EVER combine ammonia in any form with any product containing Chlorine bleach (result: mustard gas).
Apparently Clorox will also permanently fix rust stains, so if that’s what they are, I’m screwed anyway. I’ve had them soaking in another round of detergent and Oxiclean now for several hours with no results. Arrrrrgh.
Vitamin C will often allow staining from iron to dissolve in water allowing the stain to be washed away. You can try dissolving a vitamin C tablet in a few ounces of water and soak a corner of a towel for a bit. If it is iron, the vitamin C should remove the stain in minutes.
One other very small possibility is fabric softener. Sometimes the dispensers get clogged up with the stuff then for some reason it all comes out at once. If you have a fabric softener that’s on top of the agitator, pull up on it gently to see if there’s a hidden chamber where the softener can accumulate as a glob or thick film. I clean mine out about once a month (and the dryer filter every time!).
Well, we got a stubborn rust stain on the kitchen floor of a rental home (leaky washing machine … ) and we got most of the stain out by squeezing a lemon over it & adding enough salt to make a paste over the stain.
ETA: now that the stain was “treated” with OxyClean, I can’t vouch that the above method will work.