Rust coloured spots on laundry

Brown or rust coloured spots on laundry can be caused by the following –

  • Metal objects in the washing machine such as nails, paper clips. These often get stuck in the outer tub under the drum and start to rust
  • Rust or iron coming through the water supply. If you suspect this hold a white piece of cloth under the tap and let water run through it for about 5 minutes. See if a brown stain appears

If the water is staining the white garment brown, run water through other taps before starting the washing machine to try and get most of the water out of the pipework. Also check the filters in the water valves to make sure they are clean. You may need to consult a plumber or water authority about this issue.


Try covering mild stains with salt, then squeeze lemon juice over the salt and leave overnight. Then rinse thoroughly and wash normally. There are rust remover products available for this problem for more serious stains.

Brown spots could also be caused by rust from drum bearings where the seal protecting them has allowed water in.

If this is the case you should also be finding the washer noisy on spin, check this article for further details rumbling, and very noisy on spin

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  1. avatarEm says

    I’m in need of assistance my washing machine keeps putting little orange brown spots on clothes both whites and colours. Can someone advise on how to get the stains out of my colour clothes and what I can do to resolve the issue please. It only appears on random items the latest being my daughters top on the back 3 spots in a triangle shape.

  2. avatarEm says

    There are no metal bit eg.paper clips in the machine I clean out the draw and filter parts but still get the spots. I have not tried the salt and lemon juice as did not know about it until today. Also is it safe to use on colours and whites?

  3. avatar says

    I can only assume it is Em, but haven’t tried it. The tip is from a book and it didn’t warn about any potential problems on certain fabrics.

  4. avatarRoy Harris says

    I had the same problem. The cause of the brown spots could be putting your dry soiled washing into the basket with wet or damp other clothes, this cause mould to form onto dry white dry washing.I soaked my washing in bleach and water, and the spots went.
    #Hope this will help

  5. avatarLouise Thomas says

    I have recently been having the same problem. Orange spots some slightly larger than others on some of my white clothes, sheets and towels. I looked for advice on the web and then decided to experiment. I chose whites that had no orange spots on them and put them through wash. They came out spotless (pardon the pun).

    I then put them in the dryer again spotless. So I knew it wasn’t the machine, the detergent or the dryer causing problems. I then looked at the washing basket because it is made of wicker and thought it had a stain in the wood that leaked when damp, but the white liner in the basket was clean with no sign of spots.

    The only other place to check was the washing line. So I got a white t shirt and hung it on the line. Amazingly the day after I noticed orange spots on a once clean t shirt. My husband then said that it could be tree sap due to the time of year it was when the leaves had just started to shed. So to be sure I made a small cut in a tree in the garden and rubbed some of the t shirt with the tree sap. Within minutes I had my answer it was the same colour as the orange spots on my other clothes. Hope this helps.

  6. avatarjay doyle says

    the laundry bag inside my whicker/ratttan basket is covered in brown spots , my laundry sometimes as them in the case of whites theyre of no longer use . I have noticed little stains on my laundry basket . does any one how to stop this ,short of throwing the basket out.

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