Skip to content
Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Your Questions: Mystery Blue Spots on Clothes

By Dr. Laundry April 18, 2008

Q: The first time I washed and dried a red velour outfit, I discovered it had blue spots on it, though it didn’t have them when I put it in the wash. I remembered my daughter brushed the sleeve on some chocolate, so I had spot-treated with Shout. I use Free and Clear Arm and Hammer detergent. The stain was a bright blue stain….and has spots….in a small cluster. The washer was not overloaded and no fabric softener was used.

The second time it was a pink pair of sweat pants…brand new…same combination of Shout and Arm and Hammer Free and Clear detergent. This time I took the pants out of the washer with this stain present….the item never reached the dryer. Do you know what could be causing this stain? What can get it out?

A: This certainly is baffling. I know of no reason that either the Shout or Arm & Hammer Free & Clear would create blue spots/stains on new clothes. If it were incomplete removal of the stain, it is very unlikely it would “turn” blue. No liquid fabric softener removes that possibility. I have sometimes seen what I call a brightener spot when liquid detergent is applied for pre-treating and dries on the fabric. Once these dry they are nearly impossible to remove. So I am assuming the Shout and detergent were not dried on the items. Also, it helps if the detergent was dispersed in the wash water before you add the items.

A couple of other thoughts: in some of the high-efficiency (HE) machines, residual water can be left that may be mixed into the next load. If this contained bleach it might “splatter”, and react quickly with a small area and discolor it.