Your Questions: Mystery Blue Spots on Clothes

Advice from Dr. Laundry
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.