A person holds a lint roller up against a red sweater

Appliance IQ: Laundry

Reasons Why Clothes have White Residue After Washing

We all want our clothes to come out of the washer clean and ready for the dryer so we can wear them to work or to go out with friends. The last thing you want is to pull an article of clothing out of the wash only to find a white residue on it.

If there’s a white residue on your clothing after being washed, there may be several reasons as to why this is happening and some ways to prevent it from happening again.

Is There a White Residue on Your Clothes?

There may be a few causes behind what is commonly referred to as "white residue". This white residue may be the result of: 

  • Excessive lint.
  • Using too much detergent.
  • Interaction of the body soils, commonly found on workout clothes and activewear, with detergent.

An Excessive Amount of Lint

New articles of clothing, especially towels, may have excessive lint. Don’t worry as this is normal and can resolve itself over time. Dryers tend to remove most of the excess lint.

A person in a red sweater and beige pants pulls their sweater down with one hand and is about to remove lint with a lint roller
PRO TIP

Try using shorter wash times if excess linting persists.

Too Much Detergent

A white residue may be the product of using too much detergent per load, especially if the water isn’t hot enough for the detergent to dissolve. This type of residue might appear clumpier than other types. 

Refer to the users’ manual for your washer model to learn whether you should use High-Efficiency (HE) or non High Efficiency (non HE) detergent. Closely follow the detergent manufacturer’s instructions to determine the correct amount of detergent your washer requires. It’s best to never go over the max line on the dispenser.

A green scooper scoops white detergent with blue specks

Body Soils Interacting

The interaction of some body soils with detergent may cause white residue on clothes to appear. This white residue isn’t the same as the one caused by lint despite looking somewhat similar to undissolved detergent. 

Residue like this may accumulate within the creases and wrinkles of clothing and then be distributed throughout the entire load where it can cling onto other items. 

Furthermore, this type of white residue may be more prevalent in loads that use warmer water. It has a propensity to form within loads of mixed items (e.g. cotton garments that are washed with synthetic garments), because the lower friction of synthetic fabrics may disrupt the washer’s mechanical action.

Removing White Residue From Your Clothes

Rewashing the affected clothing items is one way to remove a white residue. If you’re using cold water, confirm that the water temperature is at least 60 degrees. This is imperative as it allows the detergent to dissolve as needed. You may also try running hot water in the sink closest to the washer to ensure that hot water is running through the water lines near the washer. 

Always use HE detergent like Swash. It comes with a Precision Pour Cap, which reduces the risk of using too much detergent. We also recommend using the "Clean Washer" cycle with affresh® once a month as this may help eliminate excess detergent.

On a shelf, a bottle of Swash laundry detergent next to a silver basket with white items inside
On a black counter, two different sized packages of affresh cleaner next to a washing machine

Potential Solutions for White Residue on Clothes

Try these tips to determine what cycle, temperature and soil level can help deal with or avoid white residue on clothes. 

Cycles
If available, choose one of these cycles: Heavy Duty, PowerWash, Deep Water Wash, and Whites. Avoid gentler cycles like Delicates, Casuals, and ColourLast, if possible. 

Temperature
If available, choose cooler temperatures. 

Soil Level
If available, choose higher soil levels like Heavy or Extra Heavy. 

A hand about to press a button on the black control panel of a washing machine. The time on the machine reads, 1:05

Try these tips to determine what cycle, temperature and soil level can help deal with or avoid white residue on clothes.

You may also opt to go with:
Cold temperature
Heavy soil
Extra rinse

Remember to always use the right amount of HE detergent.

Find a retailer that carries affresh® here.

Refer to your Owner's Manual for more information regarding the cycles on your machine.

We hope these tips helped you understand how to prevent white residue on your clothes. If you still have questions, please call us or schedule a service.

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