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Have White Residue on Clothes After Washing? Here’s Why!

by Ann Louisa

woman inspecting laundry from washer

At a Glance:

What is this White Residue?

What Causes White Residue on Clothes After Washing?

What Should You do if the White Residue Persists?

Top Washers on Today’s Market


Why Trust Us?

Is there anything better than pulling on your favorite sweater fresh out of the laundry? The right outfit can give you confidence and make you feel good, whether you are stepping into a job interview or just meeting friends for lunch. Unfortunately, laundry appliances don’t always work as well as they should, which means you could notice a white residue on clothes after washing.

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What is this white residue, and why does it show up? Is there something wrong with the washing machine? There are multiple causes of this issue — and different ways to solve the problem. Here’s what you need to know about making sure your clothes are actually clean in this Spencer’s TV & Appliance blog.

What is this White Residue?

Before you can fix the problem, it helps to know what the issue is. White residue, in most cases, is simply undissolved detergent that is stuck on your clothes. It can look like white flakes, streaks, and even colorful oils that make your clothes feel gross.

This residue is a sign that something isn’t right with your washing cycle. The detergent or fabric softener isn’t getting thoroughly washed from your clothes before the cycle ends. If you aren’t paying attention, you might accidentally dry your clothes with the detergent still there. This is like getting out of the shower with shampoo suds on your head.

The most common solution to finding white residue on clothes after washing is to simply run the washer again. Most homeowners won’t add any more detergent and might select a basic rinse cycle. However, this process wastes water and makes your laundry take longer. It also doesn’t get to the root of the issue.

What Causes White Residue on Clothes After Washing?

There is good news if you have just recently noticed a white residue on clothes after washing. You might not have a broken washing machine, and the issue could be as simple as human error. Even if there is an issue with your appliance, it might not be severe enough to warrant buying a new washing machine. Here are a few causes of this problem: 

  • You are adding too much detergent. This is the most basic problem. The excess detergent can’t dissolve in the water and settles on your clothes instead. Consider adding less detergent or fabric softener when you run your laundry.
  • The cycle is too short. If you are running rapid cycles or using less water, you need to adjust your detergent levels. Opt for a longer cycle to thoroughly wash your clothes.
  • You are overloading your washer. Your clothes can’t move around when they are packed too tightly. This means the detergent doesn’t dissolve because it just stays in place. Try running smaller loads.
  • The washer is dirty. If you have never cleaned your washer, dirt, grime, and soil can build up in the drum. This might be the residue you are seeing on your clothes.
  • There is a clogged water pump. The water might not be draining fast enough, which means grime settles on your clothes rather than flowing out of the drum. You may need to call a technician to address this issue.

Fortunately, most of these issues can be solved by changing your washing behavior or cleaning your appliance. However, if the issue persists, you might want to call a professional or possibly consider buying a new washing machine.   

What Should You do if the White Residue Persists?

If you have tried all of the easy solutions to remove white residue from your clothes (using less detergent, cleaning your washer), you may need to call a repair technician. However, make sure you have a clear idea of the cost of calling a professional to repair your appliance. Most people pay around $180 to have a washing machine repaired. This can range from basic issues costing around $50 to complex repairs costing $450.

You can find washing machines on the market for a little over $500 for basic models, so spending just as much money repairing your existing washer doesn’t make sense. Look into the cost of replacing your washer after receiving the repair quote. Make sure you factor in the age of the appliance. If your washer is more than five years old, its value has depreciated to the point where you might be better off with a new unit.

Old washers also break more over time. While it might be worth the cost of repairing your unit now, you might get another bill in a few months when something else breaks. Consider whether now is a good time to upgrade your washer model.

Top Washers on Today’s Market

If you think it’s time to replace your old washing machine, quality front-load and top-load options are available. Here are two models to look at if you need to accommodate family-sized loads of laundry.

LG 5.5 Cu. Ft. White Top Load Washer

LG White Top Load Washer

This is one of the best top-load washer models to consider if you are ready to add a new appliance to your home. It can hold 5.5 cubic feet of clothes, which makes this washer a mega-capacity appliance. It can handle a family’s worth of laundry, including sports uniforms, school outfits, and yard clothes. The larger drum means you will have to run fewer loads, so your laundry gets done quicker.

Not only is this LG washer big, but it is also powerful. The TurboWash3D™ setting completely washes your clothes in 29 minutes, so you can move on to drying your laundry and finish your chores faster. There are longer settings you can also choose if you have the time. The Smart Pairing™ option and ThinQ® technology can help you set your washer at the ideal water level and temperature based on what you need to clean.

Check out customer reviews to learn why so many people love this appliance. One buyer writes, “We bought this a month ago after needing a new set of washer and dryer. We love the features with the app and being able to dial in the type of washing we want. Highly recommend.”

Whirlpool® 4.5 Cu. Ft. Chrome Shadow Front Load Washer

Whirlpool® Chrome Shadow Front Load Washer

A Whirlpool washer is another top option if you want to upgrade your laundry system. This is a front-load washer that uses less water than most top-load models. It is still considered a large capacity washer at 4.5 cubic feet, which means there should be enough room to handle the laundry created by your family.

This unit also comes with a 25-minute Quick Wash Cycle which is based on a 10-lb load. You can choose a preset cycle or toggle through 35 different settings to create the perfect laundry experience for your needs. You can provide optimal fabric care to your clothes so they look just like new — no matter how often you wash them.

This is a top washer option if you have kids or bring germs and bacteria home on your clothes. The Sanitize Cycle eliminates 99.9 percent of common household bacteria by washing your clothes at an increased temperature. Whether you need to wash hospital scrubs or simply clean school clothes from rambunctious kindergarteners, this model is for you.   

If the white residue is still ruining your clothes, then it’s time to change things up with a new washer. Because it’s much easier to make a one-time purchase for a new washer than potentially spending hundreds of dollars repairing your washing machine regularly. That’s why you should stop by Spencer’s TV & Appliance today for your new washer from some of the top brands like GE, Whirlpool, LG, Electrolux, and many others.


It’s important to have all the facts before buying a new appliance. That’s why we’ve answered some of our shoppers’ questions below.

What is the white residue on clothes after washing?

Most often, the white residue you see on clothes after washing them is detergent or fabric softener that hasn’t been thoroughly washed away. This could occur because too much was added to the drum or there are issues with how the cycles run.

How often should you clean your washer?

Depending on how often you use your washing machine, you should wash the drum two to four times each year. The more you use your appliance, the more you need to wash it. You can wash your washing machine by turning it to the hottest setting and by adding vinegar to an empty load. You should also wipe around the door of the washer if you have a front-load model.  

Why Trust Spencer’s TV & Appliance?

Since 1973, Spencer’s TV & Appliance has grown to 10 locations throughout the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. The secret to our longevity is simple: personal service. Customer satisfaction have always been the focus of our business, and throughout the years, we have been able to work hard with our suppliers to bring you the best prices. After all, getting customers the best price and personal attention is how we compete with big-box stores, day in and day out.

Not only do we offer top-rated appliances, name-brand electronics, and the best mattresses on the market but we also provide water treatment solutions and perform kitchen design services. Stop by your nearest Spencer’s and see what you’re missing!

Shop Washers and Dryers at Spencer’s

At Spencer’s TV & Appliance, we provide high-quality, name-brand products at great prices — check out our catalog to shop laundry appliances online today. Your friends in the business are always happy to help you figure out why there is a white residue on clothes after washing them. Call us, or better yet, stop by at one of our locations in the Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Glendale regions. Visit us today!

Learn More: Is it Cheaper to Repair or Replace Appliances?