Rust coloured spots on laundry

If you are getting brown or rust coloured spots on your laundry after washing here are a few possible causes to investigate. Metal objects that may have been left inside pockets such as nails or paper clips might be one cause of the stains. These often get stuck in the outer drum under the stainless steel drum and start to rust. Over time this rust could be deposited on clothes.

Check the pump filter in case anything is in there, but if metal objects are inside the main drum it may be difficult to retrieve them (how to remove something stuck in washing machine).

It’s also possible to get rust or iron coming through the water supply. If you suspect this, try holding a white piece of cloth under the tap and let water run through it for a few 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 need to turn off the water tap and unscrew the fill hose from the water valve. You may need to consult a plumber or water authority if you are getting stained water coming through the water supply.

Treatment of rust spots

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 caused by rust from drum bearings

A more rare cause could be actual rust from the drum bearings where the seal protecting them has allowed water into them. If this is the case you should also be finding the washer noisy on spin, check this article for further details what do noisy drum bearings sound like?

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17 thoughts on “Rust coloured spots on laundry”

  1. 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. 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. BROWN SPOTS ON WASHING
    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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Hi, I am getting rust colour spots…but only on the knees of my jeans. Nothing else. Same thing happened to my mom’s jeans at her house. Ideas?

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