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How to Remove Grey Stains From White Clothes (Step-by-step)

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White clothes are magnets for stains and color runs from other clothes. Even when washed alone in ideal water temperatures and using the most expensive laundry detergents and fabric softeners, you’ll still notice gray stains on the white clothes. This is often a problem of a dirty washer. So how to remove gray stains from white clothes.

You can remove gray stains from white clothes using white vinegar, salt, ammonia, or bleach. Or you can still use your regular laundry detergent to remove the stubborn gray stains. You’ll need to clean the washer first by running it empty with hot water and a cup of bleach. Then wash the stained clothes separately to remove the gray stains.

The grime and dirt in the washer are the main reason your white clothes get gray stains. It can also happen if you mix different colors of clothes in the same load. Read more to find out how to remove gray stains from dingy white clothes.

How to Remove Gray Stains From White Clothes

When you pull the laundry out of the washer and see gray stains on the white clothes, then you need to find out why this happened before you can proceed to remove the stains. If you wash the white clothes again in the same conditions, the gray stains will get worse.

After washing the washer with hot water and bleach and separating the white clothes from the rest, you can proceed to remove the gray stains using one of the following methods.

Using Bleach

Since you’re dealing with white clothes, then you don’t have to worry about whether the bleach is color-safe or not. Any bleach for laundry will do. I recommend OxiClean White Laundry Stain Remover (Amazon paid link). Then follow these easy steps.

  1. Fill the washer with hot water.
  2. Add one cup of bleach to the hot water and agitate it to help dissolve it completely. You can start the washer and let it agitate the water for 5 minutes then switch it off.
  3. Add the dingy white clothes to the washer and let them soak for 15 minutes.
  4. Set the washer to the “Tough Stains” cycle and start it.
  5. When the cycle is over, set the washer to a regular cycle and add laundry detergent and fabric softener as usual. Don’t add bleach this time around.
  6. The gray stains will disappear or become less visible once the white clothes are dry.

I wrote an article on using bleach with laundry detergent that may interest you.

Using Laundry Detergent

You can still use a good laundry detergent alone to get the dinginess out of the white clothes along with the gray stains. But for that, you’ll need a powerful laundry detergent to do the job. I found Persil to be a reliable detergent that works well on those gray and invisible stains that only appear after the laundry is dry. Here’s how to use it with stained white clothes.

  1. Pour the laundry detergent on the gray stains and let them soak for 5 minutes. This gives the laundry detergent enough time to get rid of the stains.
  2. Run the tap of cold water on the opposite side of the garment where the gray stains are to push the stains out. 
  3. Place the white clothes alone in the washer and run it a full cycle using the same detergent and wait for it to finish.
  4. Inspect the white clothes and check that the gray stains have faded.

Here’s a complete guide to fixing discolored clothes you can check out next.

Using White Vinegar

White vinegar is easily available in every kitchen. You would usually use it to remove blood stains and yellow stains from clothes. But did you know that white vinegar also works well on gray stains on white clothes? (Paid link to amazon)

  1. Put the stained white garment in a bowl and pour the white vinegar on the gray stains.
  2. Rub the stains gently to help the vinegar penetrate the fabric and interact with the dingy stains.
  3. Let the clothes soak in the vinegar for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Wash the vinegar-soaked clothes in the washer to get rid of all traces of the gray stains.

I also wrote a guide on mixing laundry detergent with vinegar that may interest you.

Using Salt

Table salt is also another way to revive dingy white clothes and remove the gray stains. For that, you’ll need to soak the garments in cold water with three tablespoons of salt for each garment. Let them soak for at least 15 minutes then rinse the clothes under the tap and wash them in the washer.

Using Ammonia

Ammonia works wonders on brown stains, blood stains, and urine stains on white clothes. They can also remove gray stains if used properly.

  1. Start by creating an ammonia solution by mixing ammonia with water in equal parts. Dissolve one cup of ammonia in one cup of water.
  2. Dip a white cloth in the solution and rub the gray stains in tight circles. You’ll need to be thorough and work your way through all the stains.
  3. Set the garment aside for 15 minutes as the ammonia interacts with the gray stains.
  4. Wash the garments normally in the washer and put them out to dry.

Tips for Removing Stains from White Clothes

  • Always use a white cloth to rub the stained garments. If you use a cloth with colors these colors could run.
  • Don’t wash white clothes with other colors since that would make the gray stains even worse.
  • Wash the washer regularly using a cup of baking soda or bleach in hot water to get rid of the grime and dirt that causes gray stains in white clothes.
  • Always wash the gray stains as soon as they appear on the white clothes. Don’t iron stained clothes since that would make the stains more difficult to remove.

For more details, check out my full guide on removing grey stains from your white clothes.


White clothes can get dingy the more you wash them. A dirty washer will leave gray stains on the white clothes. To get rid of the gray stains on dingy white clothes, you can use bleach, ammonia, salt, white vinegar, or a powerful laundry detergent. Don’t wash the stained white clothes with other colors that could run and make the stains even harder to remove.

Check out my list of sunscreens that don’t discolor your clothes here.


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