Black Smudges Left on Clothes After Doing Laundry

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.


10 thoughts on “Black Smudges Left on Clothes After Doing Laundry

  1. Shannon

    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??

  2. bunnybean

    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.

  3. erg

    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.


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