Overview of Washing Machine Stains

Apart from the technically-minded among us, most people are not that interested in how a washing machine is put together, they just want to know that it works.  However, set out below is a quick review of the types of materials used in the construction of your washing machine, which should satisfy you that any stains on your washing could not be caused by the machine itself. 

Hopefully this quick explanation should help you understand there is no need to call on the services of a qualified engineer for a staining issue, as they will not be able to assist you in this instance.

Obviously some clothes are stained before you load them into the machine in the first place, but that is quite a different matter.

The washing machine itself

The major components of a modern washing machine, such as the drum, are manufactured from stainless steel – even in a lower cost machine.  This means there will be no rust to transfer to your clothes, causing stains.

The drum is connected to the bearings, generally made from a cast alloy, with a shaft that the washing machine bearings run on, allowing the drum to rotate.  These bearings are all sealed, sometimes using a small amount of special bearing grease.  This has been tested over many years to ensure that it will not transfer to your clothes causing a stain. 

The outer casing of your machine is commonly made from a polycarbonate or polypropylene based material or, on higher grade machines, this could also be stainless steel.  Neither of these materials can rust and, therefore, cannot stain your clothes.  In the past the outer casing of washing machines were enamelled and over a period of years these could rust, but this practice has long since died out.

Hoses and the soap dispenser

Rubber is no longer used in the manufacturer of hoses, these are all now made from a silicon based material which will not degrade and, therefore, will not introduce any staining into the water or the laundry.  In the past, rubber was used for the manufacture of hoses, but these did degrade over time, causing problems with the wash, and developing leaks.

The soap dispenser, or drawer, is manufactured from plastic.  Not only because this is such a light material, but as we all know, plastic does not biodegrade and will last well beyond the life of your machine.

Obviously washing machines do fail from time to time, but unless you have a bearing problem, which you will know very quickly by the noise of the machine, there is nothing in the manufacture that will cause any staining to your laundry.


Manufacturers have spent considerable time and resources to produce reliable washing machines.  The last thing they want to do is to have dissatisfied customers as this would have a detrimental effect on their business as a whole. 

The way modern washing machines are made is a far cry from when the first few machines were manufactured.  The components are much lighter, reducing the costs to the manufacturer, but also enabling the machines to last much longer and to avoid any staining on their customers’ laundry.

Of course we still get the odd maverick machine on the market but on the whole, you can rest assured that you will have a machine that will last you many years and give you excellent service during its lifetime.

So what does cause stains

 Unfortunately, the main cause of staining on laundry is errors in how the machine is used.  One of the biggest issues is that people assume they know how their machine works and, therefore, never bother to read the manufacturer’s handbook.  This is a very important step to take when your buy a new machine and it is a good idea to keep it in a safe place should you need to refer to it again.

The manufacturer will have spent a lot of effort and energy in producing these instructions, not only from the installation of the machine, but down to minor details of how to manage the wash cycles.  They will all recommend a particular brand of detergent, but apart from the free sample they may provide, you are in a much better position to decide on which detergent you wish to use.

What you should do

  • Always read the washing labels on the inside of any item you are washing.  Always selected the lowest temperature from the items you are washing to make sure you don’t ruin an item of clothing by washing it at too high a temperature. Conversely, a garment that requires a higher temperature wash, may not be as clean as it should be.
  • Carefully sort your washing into colour groups.  If you tend to mix your dark and light colours together, over time you may notice your lighter colour items start to grey.  
  • Try to avoid washing heavier items with lightweight items.  During this kind of mixed wash, your delicate items may be tangled in the heavier items, and may not be washed or rinsed thoroughly.  These delicate items could also be damaged in this kind of mixed wash
  • Do not overload your machine. Not only will this cause the drum difficulty in turning, but also the result may be that none of your clothes have been washed or rinsed thoroughly and you may well have to split the load down and wash both loads again.  This is quite an expensive area both in time, electricity and detergent.
  • Make use of the different programme cycles your machine can offer you, such as handwash, delicates and short programme etc. If you do this, you should notice an improvement in the overall finish of your garments.
  • Some people use the short programme too frequently, but really this programme is only designed for one or two items only that you need to wash very quickly.  The programme is not designed for the main wash and overuse may actually cause a problem with the machine itself.
  • Using the correct detergent for your wash.  It is not always easy to find the right detergent for you and your family’s needs, and it can be confusing as there are so many options available.  There’s powder, liquid, liquid caps and detergent tablets, plus all the softeners that are available as well.  The best thing you can do is to try out a few different types, and make your decision on what to use going forward once you are happy with what you have found.  Remember that non-bio detergent does not contain enzymes and bleaching agents.  If you are having trouble removing food stains from your wash, you may need to switch to a bio detergent instead.
  • Additional stain-remover products are very common on the market, but once you have the correct detergent for you, you may find these additional items are not necessary.
  • not necessary.There are some so-called environmental products available on the market which you may wish to try.  These include soap nuts and ecoballs, but these items are not recommended as there is no proof that they actually work, but obviously it is up to the individual to select what is best for them.

Hopefully this article will help you on your way to a stain-free washing experience and alleviate any concerns you may have had that your washing machine is faulty.























Disclaimer: The information provided has been prepared as a guide only and the steps taken are likely to vary for different appliance models. We strongly recommend using a qualified engineer to undertake major repairs and fault finding.


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