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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Spots on Red Clothes

By Dr. Laundry December 16, 2010

Q. I have had a problem with random small spots appearing on red clothes after washing. It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of detergent I use. I always wash my red loads in cold water. I never get these spots on any other color of clothing. What could the problem be? I thought it was a problem with the fabric softener, so I’ve left that out and it seems to help, but today I had a problem with only powdered detergent.

This certainly can be a frustrating problem. I’m especially intrigued by why only red items.
It is possible that this problem may be occurring, but just isn’t as visible on the other colors.

My best guess would have been the fabric softener spots, which you stopped using, and/or un-dissolved powder detergent. To help prevent this, try using a little warmer/hot water for the first 3-4 inches of water as you add the powder detergent. Swish/swirl this solution to help insure all the powder is dissolved; then switch back to cool/cold water and wait for another 3-4” of water before adding the red items.