Whites coming out of washing machine looking grey coloureds losing colour

Shirts-grey If white shirts are coming out of the wash looking grey, or if coloured laundry is fading too quickly the first thing you need to look at is the type of detergent you are using.

Different washing machine detergents work in different ways. Some contain bleaching agents, which helps keep whites white – but that also fades colours. Other detergent claims to be friendly to coloureds – but it achieves this by not using bleaching agents so whites may not be kept as white.


Shirts-coloured So this logically means that if you have laundry that needs to be kept nice and white you should use detergent with bleaching agents in. But if you have coloured clothes that you want to keep from fading as long as possible, you need to use a colour friendly detergent. In other words you need to buy both types.

Cutting-corners Apart from using good quality washing machine detergents you also need to use the correct amount. Using less can cause a build up of grease and grime in the washing machine as well as poorer wash results.

Not using enough detergent can also cause limescale problems. Washing machine detergent contains ingredients that protect the washing machine (particularly the heating element) against limescale. Not using the proper amount may appear to save money in the short term but may well end up costing much more.


Many people are happy with the wash results they get when using lower doses of detergent but if that’s you, check underneath and behind the door seal to make sure your washer isn’t getting slowly choked up with grease, limescale or slime. (Washing machine smells – causes of grease, slime and black mould inside washing machines)

Finally make sure you are not overloading the washing machine. Overloading will reduce the effectiveness of the detergent and rinsing.

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13 thoughts on “Whites coming out of washing machine looking grey coloureds losing colour”

  1. please help, my daughters washing is a terrible colour , baby clothes are grey, and the colourdes are so dull, i told her to use the approprate powders ie , whites, coloureds, weve tried everything. could ther be somthing wrong with the way its been plumbed in , the only thing im thinking could dirty water be going into the washer instead of clean water, if so what do i do, thanks

  2. Hello Karen, everything I know about the subject is in the article above. If mixing whites and coloureds you may get colours leaching into the whites. If she has to mix them because there’s not enough whites to wash separately make sure she tries a good quality colour catcher to prevent the dye from coloured clothes going into the whites. If whites need to stay white try to wash them separately and with detergent containing bleaching agent – definitely not liquid detergent. As my article explains, there are two types of detergent for whites and coloured so ideally you need to use both and wash them separately.

  3. Hi, I learn a lot from your blog and you proved my mum is right : stick to washing powder rather than liquid. I would like to know there are some laundry detergent using non ionic surfactant rather aionic / mixture of aionic and non ionic sufuctant. I did a little bit of search on Internet, non ionic sufuctant works better in hard water as it doesn’t affected by the minerals inside. I wonder is it worth to buy the non ionic one as it cost much higher than normal laundry detergent? And will it helps the machine last longer?

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