Black Smudges Left on Clothes After Doing Laundry

by Samurai Appliance Repair Man on March 28, 2005

in Dryer Repair, Washer Repair

I had a call from a customer complaining of black smudges on her clothes, she thinks from her washer. She also reported that her dryer needed service because it made an awful noise.

Now, whenever I get a call about black smudges on clothes, I know it’s usually one of two things:

1) A chemical reaction between some detergents and fabric softeners can create black spots on clothes in the washing machine. You can tell if this is the case by seeing if the black spots will come off using soap and water. (Uncommon: if the spots will only come off using petroleum distillates, then this is oil from the washing machine’s transmission.)

2) Rubber and/or metal filings from a wallowed out drum roller in the dryer getting on the clothes. In this case, you’ll see amorphous smudges instead of well-defined, circular spots.

Turns out that, on this service call, the source of the staining was definitely the dryer. When I started up the dryer, it emitted a loud rumbling. I shut it off immediately and disassembled the dryer. After removing the drum, I saw the source of the black smudges right away. You can see it below (click it for a larger view):

Wallowed-Out Drum Roller on a Whirlpool-Built Dryer

As you can see, the drum roller is nuked. Amazingly, the roller shaft was still serviceable. If you looked at the larger view, you may have noticed all the metal shavings on top of the motor and piled in the back corner. With the drum roller so wallowed out, the rear drum seal was sloppy and would let metal filings into the drum while the dryer was running. These metal filings get on the clothes and leave black smudges. I replaced both drum rollers, the belt, and the idler pulley. Since this was a Whirlpool-built dryer, these parts all come in a convenient rebuild kit.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Shannon May 17, 2005 at 1:52 am

I recently bought a used GE heavy duty dryer. We immediately noticed black marks on all our clothing. They look like they have been pulled into the wholes and burned. They will not go away no matter how many times you wash them and with what. The top of the dryer also gets rather hot during use. Any clues as to what the problem may be??

Samurai Appliance Repair Man May 17, 2005 at 3:18 am

You have several clues right on this page!

bunnybean August 21, 2005 at 6:41 pm

You left one other reason for black smudges off your list. Teenage boys who leave black ink pens in the pockets of their cargo pants (have you ever known an overworked mom who can properly look through those pockets? And what about the wads of tissues the family leaves in there?) Please suggest a suitable punishment.

Samurai Appliance Repair Man September 27, 2005 at 11:52 pm

There’s only one punishment: make THEM repsonsible for all the laundry. You still control meals, right?

erg October 23, 2005 at 12:35 pm

I have the same problem with black smudges with my Maytag Model GDE412 dryer and the rumbling like tennis shoes in the dryer.
The recommended repairs sound complicated. Are they all necessary? Should these be left to a professional? If so, how much would it typically cost?

I have very average technical skills – can change oil in car and change alternator.


Samurai Appliance Repair Man October 23, 2005 at 2:01 pm

Ed, for your problem, you’ll need to open up the dryer and inspect both the drum rollers and the blower wheel.

erg October 23, 2005 at 8:16 pm

Master Samurai,

Thanks so much for the quick response . . . guess you think it’s fixable by me. I’ll begin opening the dryer!


Samurai Appliance Repair Man October 24, 2005 at 3:37 am

Sheeeeit, it’s plug n’ chug, mah bruthah! For me, it’d be two mugs on the patented Suds-o-Meter. Accounting for your inexperience in such matters, I’d reckon you might require an extra mug for the learning curve, an’ all.

mclark January 7, 2011 at 6:57 pm

I have the same problem. I just ordered replacement drum rollers. Any advice on how to remove the black marks?

Samurai Appliance Repair Man January 17, 2011 at 9:49 pm

The black marks should come out in the next wash. May need to use stain/spot remover.

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