Load of laundry turned day-glo yellow

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?

I guess no one has anything to add.

I think either some rusty water came through the pipes and the Oxiclean turned it bright yellow, or my toddler threw a water-soluble, “washable” crayon in there.

I think you’re probably right - the rust reacted with the Oxiclean and turned them yellow. The bright yellow is ringing some bell in my memory, but that is also rusty, and google isn’t helping.

Some of the suggestions for getting the yellow out - baking soda, lemon juice, or a de-colourizer (sold in the same place as Rit dyes, I believe).

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).

Salt and vinegar in combination is a mordant, a fixative used in dying.


I wouldn’t try them again unless you really want the color to stick.

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!).

So… have you located the yellow crayon? Or do you think that’s what happened?

I was assuming a yellow highlighter was involved.

Well if it’s a highlighter, then the answer to this problem is the same as the answer to so many of life’s problems: alcohol.

Sooo… you’re saying the OP should drink to forget the laundry mishap? Works for me.

Salt + LEMON JUICE will get out rust stains, sometimes. Very different beast, though.

So … was it a highlighter/crayon?

It wasn’t a highlighter for sure. I’ll never know if it was a crayon, because the washable kind dissolve in water. There wouldn’t be any crayon left over.

Given how stubborn the stain is though (overnight in more detergent and Oxiclean made no difference at all) my money is on a rust stain that the original shot of Oxiclean turned yellow.

We don’t use fabric softener, so it wasn’t that.

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.

Good luck! :slight_smile:
ETA: now that the stain was “treated” with OxyClean, I can’t vouch that the above method will work.