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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Soap Stains

By Dr. Laundry February 12, 2009

Q. I use Aveeno Daily Moisturizing body wash. All of the washcloths that I use with it have recently become discolored. I conducted an experiment to prove this: I color-coded two washcloths. One I used with the Aveeno, and the other one my husband used with his soap. So far, my washcloth is discoloring after three uses, especially in the area where I apply the Aveeno (I wash my wash rags after every use). My husband’s cloth does not seem to be darkening. Besides soaking, bleaching, and boiling, which I have already tried, do you have any idea what I can do to whiten the cloths?

Great experiment and I agree with your observations. The Aveeno body wash definitely seems to be different, and possibly contains something that reacts with bleach and dyes. Is the body wash colored? It could be the Aveeno dye that is reacting, since it seems to only be where the concentrated soap is placed.
A couple of ideas for you:

  • Try doing a pretreat with Liquid Tide (apply; rub in; wait 3–5 minutes) before you wash the clothes. This may solubilize the “bad” ingredient and prevent a future reaction.
  • Is it possible to try another liquid body wash? It certainly might be more economical than purchasing new washcloths so frequently.