Why Is Washing Machine Getting Rust on My Clothes?

Fred's Appliance
September 2, 2014

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It’s frustrating when you remove a load of clothes from the washing machine only to discover they are covered in rust. Some of the rust debris may shake off with little effort, but the copper color particles can seep into fabrics, staining or even ruining the clothes. So, what’s causing this problem? And how can you fix it?


Most modern-day washing machines are manufactured with stainless steel bowls that are resistant to rust and corrosion. This is necessary because it’s constantly being exposed to moisture, which is essentially the precursor to rust and corrosion. With that said, stainless steel washing machines may still develop rust on occasion, especially when metallic foreign objects fall around the agitator.


Foreign Metallic Objects


Take a moment to inspect the interior drum of your washing machine for signs of any foreign objects. Small metallic items like paper clips, bra cups, money clips, car keys, key chains, etc. can make their way down around the agitator where they slowly degrade over time. After being exposed to water for months on end, these items may corrode, releasing rust throughout your washing machine.


If you own a top-loading machine machine, unplug it from the wall and remove the agitator. Now shine a flashlight around the bottom of the unit and remove any foreign objects you come across. Front-loaders are easier to inspect since there’s no agitator to remove.


Clean Your Unit


After removing any and all foreign objects from your washing machine, run an empty load with hot water and 2 cups of white apple cider vinegar. ACV is a powerful cleaning agent with antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic properties. Unlike bleach or bleach-based cleaners, ACV is all-natural and non-toxic, so you don’t have to worry about exposing your family to potentially harmful chemicals. The ACV should dislodge and flush out any remaining rust particles, leaving you with a clean washing machine that’s ready for laundry.


Rusted Pipes


Another possibility is that the rust is coming from the pipes, not the washing machine. If you’ve thoroughly inspected and cleaned your washing machine and still notice rust on your clothes, your pipes may be rusted. Unfortunately, there’s no “quick fix” for this problem. The only way to prevent rust from getting on your clothes is to replace the damaged/worn pipes with new ones. Contact a licensed plumber in your area for a quote.

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