HE washer...whites turning gray.

eulogiaFebruary 14, 2009

I have a Bosch front loader which I bought when I moved to the country and for the first time have a septic system. I wanted a machine that used less water, as I do a lot of laundry. But, I find that now my whites are turning gray, and I don't know if it's due to hard water, minerals, etc. My question is, can I use the vinegar solution or Oxyclean solution in my HE washer, and, more importantly, since it uses such a small amount of detergent, how much vinegar or oxyclean should I use? I can't imagine using a half cup, as is stated for traditional top loaders. Thank you for your help!

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I occasionally use vinegar in the softner dispenser. When I use Oxyclean I sprinkle the powder form on the clothes, just one scoop (maybe a quarter cup?). When I have the liquid oxyclean I put it in the pretreat dispenser, the same level as my HE detergent. You can also use a bluing agent (a small amount goes a long way). I only use that maybe once a year and I'm out right now so I can't remember the brand name or if it's OK for septics. They sell it at grocery stores. I only use a capful.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 9:50AM
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Do you have well water?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 12:15PM
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Try Mrs. Stewart's Bluing

Here is a link that might be useful: Mrs. Stewart's web site

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 1:03PM
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I think you're on the right track suspecting the well water. You should have it tested and see what you have to deal with. I'd advise caution before adding things like bluing and stuff without knowing what you're dealing with. You might need to consider a water filter.

Personally, I can't understand why people want to use bluing. I can often see it. I know many can't and that's the point of the optical illusion but it looks downright silly to me under certain lighting to see people with blue clothes that they think are white.

Turning gray can be caused by a lot of reasons. Too much detergent, not enough detergent, mixing clothes that shouldn't be mixed, and more. Vinegar probably won't help whiten anything.

You could also experiment with different detergents and see what works best for your situation. People will scream different brands, but it really varies with the water, temperature, clothes, soil level and a lot more. I'd definitely look for something with enzymes and concentrate more on the detergent than the additives. To me, the detergent is the primary cleaner. Additives should just tweak the results.

BTW, what temperature are you using? You might need to increase the temperature. Assuming you're on well water, I hope you're not trying to use tap cold water!

It would help to know more about what you're using for temperature, cycles, detergent, additives, fabrics, etc. Otherwise, it's pure guess.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 2:06PM
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I rememember my grandmother using a rinse on her hair to make it less yello and more silver. Sure looked blue to me, LOL.

Cynic, believe it or not, our city water is usually colder than our well water was. That said, I wouldn't use it for most loads.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 4:34PM
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Try STPP (Sodium Tripolyphosphate) as a laundry additive. Use it in a proportion of between 1:4 and 1:2 to the detergent, depending on your water conditions. Start at the lower end of the scale (1 oz STPP to 4 oz. detergent for example) for several loads, see if the whites look better. If not increase to 1:3 (1 oz STPP to 3 oz. detergent). If you have VERY hard water, 1:2 may be needed (1 oz. STPP to 2 oz. detergent). Note that once the wash solution is charged with STPP, typically less detergent is needed than if STPP wasn't being used. It may take several washes to get the improvement, but once you find the right dosage, there should be an improvement. You can use it on all your wash, not just whites.

My water is 11 grains hardness. I use STPP at 1:3 -- 1 oz. with 3 oz. detergent in my HE machine. Perhaps a tad extra STPP on very dirty loads.

Here is a link that might be useful: STPP at The Chemistry Store

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 4:57PM
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Blueing is nothing more than an optical illusion, similar to the effect of a blue filter on the lens of a camera. Bluing absorbs the yellow part of the light spectrum, counteracting the yellowing of fabrics. Blueing washes out after a few washes and you'll still have gray clothes. It doesn't correct the original problem - just masks it - which is probably caused by hard water mineral deposits and detergent build-up.

You also have to use more detergent in hard water (check the recommendations on the bottle), or use ingredients to soften BOTH the wash water and the rinse water (see link below).

If you are using cold water for washing and the water temperature is 65°F or colder, the detergent will be ineffective. Detergent manufacturers and care lables define cold water as 80-85°F.

If you are using detergents (not homemade soap), they already have whiteners and optical brighteners (blueing) in them.


Here is a link that might be useful: Water Quality and Laundry Problems

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 6:54AM
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Definitely sounds like hard water. I have hard water. I usually use oxi clean, white distilled vinegar, or lemon juice to brighten my whites back up. Its been working so far. Hanging them in the sun helps a lot too. I have also heard laying whites on a nice grass area is good. Something to do with the natural oxygen the grass gives off, apparently whitens up whites. I have never tried it myself.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 10:50AM
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whatever happened to CLOROX?

1 Like    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 4:22PM
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I know Boxersdaughter. I use Clorox or LCB in very small amounts on whites. Just a little of it goes a long way. I always wash the whites as the last load on laundry day because I don't use fab softener in the whites and I feel like the bleach sort of cleans the machine somewhat as the last load washes.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 8:20PM
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CLOROX is the wrong choice to whiten gray clothing if it is caused by hard water. When Chlorine Bleach mixes with minerals in hard water it can cause the clothing to yellow, which may be an improvement over gray, but that's still not the desired white.

When Chlorine Bleach mixes with iron in hard water it can cause holes in clothing - NOT an improvement over either gray or yellowing whites.

Chlorine Bleach isn't safe to use on all fabrics (slik, wool, spandex stretch fabrics, blends of these fabrics), or certain fabric finishes.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 7:24AM
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The subject line is a common phrase among technical types, and isn't as snarky as it may come off here. I don't even know what eulogia's washer manual says. Anyway... I looked at the troubleshooting section of a few manuals online. Not all of them mention gray laundry. But in the ones that do mention it, the remedies are: use hotter water, and use more detergent. Makes me wonder if eulogia is a victim of bad advice regarding detergent dosing.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 12:35PM
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I agree that bleach causes yellowing in hard water and it does a number on elastic over time. I would not use it on bras.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 12:53PM
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