A tumble dryer causing black marks on your clothes could be because of the dryer overheating and scorching your clothes or some defective/damaged parts.
The many reasons for a tumble dryer leaving black marks include something you possibly left behind in the dryer accidentally, overheating drums, cracked or dirty lint screens, and clogged vents. Rollers, drum glides, or felt seals could also be worn.
Before you try to troubleshoot the problem yourself, ensure you unplug your dryer or turn off the circuit breaker to avoid electrocution.
9 Reasons For Black Marks From Your Dryer (with Fixes)
Once you’ve unplugged the dryer’s power cord, investigate the inside of the drum. Use a flashlight and feel around for any oily or sticky residue. Most residue on the dryer drum is invisible to the eye and transferred to your laundry.
Here’s a list of the possible causes of the unsightly marks on your clothes, along with fixes.
1) Oil or Grease
There are a couple of possibilities for oil or grease stains on your clothing:
- The oil from existing stains on some clothing transfers to the dryer surface.
- You used grease or lube to lubricate some dryer components for noise elimination.
Remember, oil build-up within the dryer not only causes stained clothes but is also a fire hazard. Also, lubrication isn’t a long-term solution for a faulty component.
- Separate any oil-stained clothes that didn’t get cleaned after a wash.
- Clean the tub with mild soap and a damp cloth to remove any residues.
- Figure out which part of the dryer is noisy and replace it instead of lubricating.
2) Defective Gliders
Gliders are tiny plastic, nylon, or rubber parts on the edge of the dryer’s drum. They support the drum and allow it to rotate smoothly, preventing it from rubbing against the metal cabinet while it spins.
Based on your usage frequency, the average lifespan of the drum glides is about 5 years. However, they eventually get damaged, worn out, or deformed. This leads to small gaps where clothes get caught and stained or torn.
If you notice a metal-on-metal scraping or whining noise, it’s time to replace those gliders.
Replace the old gliders with new ones. Ensure you use suitable gliders and attach them the right way.
3) Dryer Overheating
A clothes dryer that overheats is one of the most common reasons for black scorch marks on your laundry. Multiple reasons could cause a dryer to overheat:
Reason #1: Clogged Dryer Vent
A blocked dryer vent leads to dryer overheating and burning of clothes and is also a fire hazard. The dampness from the dryer is removed through the vent, with most of the warm air including microscopic lint particles.
The build-up of lint and dust within the dryer vent clogs it up and interferes with the airflow. This leads to a burning smell, overheating the drum, and scorching your clothes.
Ensure you regularly inspect and clean the vents and get your dryer serviced as needed (Check our Article How To Service A Tumble Dryer). Also, do not fold or kink the ducting.
Reason #2: A Damaged Blower Wheel
Air circulation through the dryer happens with the help of the blower wheel that works with the motor. Air is moved around the drum to dry the clothes, and the exhaust vent removes the heated air.
A worn-out, cracked, or damaged wheel prevents proper air circulation or dispersion, causing the dryer to overheat.
Inspect the blower wheel and replace it with a new one if it’s defective or damaged.
Reason #3: Defective Cycling Thermostat
A cycling thermostat regulates the dryer’s temperature by cycling the heat on and off. It keeps the dryer from overheating or insufficient heating.
When the cycling thermostat malfunctions, it could cause the heating element to remain on without cycling it off. This causes overheating and burning of clothes.
Test the cycling thermostat for continuity. If there is no continuity, replace this part.
Reason #4: Damaged Heating Element
The heating element is responsible for warming the air inside the dryer to dry the laundry. It cycles off once the selected temperature is reached.
A damaged heating element remains switched on for longer and causes overheating.
Replace the heating element, which is readily available at hardware stores or online, by searching for your dryer model number.
4) Damaged Rollers
The uniform rotational movement of the dryer drum is because of small, usually metal or plastic, wheels attached to the outside of the drum.
Extensive use causes the drum rollers or axles holding the rollers to wear out, causing a squealing or thumping noise.
In addition, the drum will not spin evenly, and laundry will get caught in the gap between the rollers and the drum, creating black marks on clothes.
Replacement of the entire set of worn rollers is necessary. Drum roller replacement kits are a good solution for an easy fix.
5) Worn Dryer Drum Seal
Drum felt seal in the front and back of the dryer drum ensures it remains sealed, separates it from the dryer panels, and allows proper air circulation.
When the drum seal deteriorates, you can hear scraping and thumping sounds. The clothes take longer to dry and can get stuck between the drum and panels, causing them to stain or tear.
Run a cleaning wipe or cloth around the perimeter of the dryer drum, front and back, to check for brown marks.
Replace the worn dryer felt seal. It’s as simple as removing the old felt seal, cleaning away debris, and fixing the new dryer felt seal.
6) Damaged Lint Screen
The lint screen and lint screen housing are located at the door opening of the dryer. The lint from the drying clothes gets caught by the lint screen, while the housing lets warm air pass through it and prevents it from getting damaged.
A damaged lint screen or housing leads to clothes getting caught, resulting in black marks or tears.
- Take the lint screen out of the dryer, remove all the lint, and vacuum out additional debris and dust.
- A cracked lint screen or housing needs to be replaced; affordable options exist.
- If you’ve washed the lint screen, let it dry completely before putting it back in the dryer; this avoids rust that could stain your clothes.
7) Cracked Baffle
Often, there are 3 drum baffles mounted inside the drum. The purpose of a baffle is to separate the clothing in the drying process.
Baffles can crack or get loose from the dryer drum over time, causing garments to snag on any rough edges of the baffle. Scorching of the laundry happens with exposure to hot air blowing from the drum.
- If screws have loosened, all you need to do is lift the dryer top and tighten all the screws.
- If the baffles are damaged, get them replaced.
8) Dryer Overload
Overloading your tumble dryer causes some clothes to rub against other items in the drum. The laundry will get uneven heat exposure due to uneven movement.
With dryer overload, some clothes could get burnt due to overexposure to heat, while some will still be wet without hot air exposure.
Check the user manual for the weight capacity and ensure you aren’t overloading your dryer.
9) Accidentally Left-Behind Objects
At times, things that don’t belong in the dryer get in unknowingly. For example, forgotten items inside pockets could stain clothes or clog the vent or motor, rubber items could melt and stain clothes or the inside of the dryer, and oil-stained clothes could cause a mess too.
- Always ensure you remove any foreign items from your clothing before loading the dryer.
- If the inside of the drum has melted wax or oil, spray a mix of equal parts of warm water and white vinegar on the stains. Scrub out with a damp cloth and dry with a clean cloth.
How To Get Rid of Dryer Stains?
Any residual stains on the dryer drum could stain your laundry. Here’s what can be done to sort it out:
- For ink-based stains, wipe the stains away with rubbing alcohol. With a damp cloth, remove any remaining residue. Keep the dryer door open for the fumes to dissipate.
- For sticky residue, run your dryer for 5 minutes on the medium setting. With a towel or a rag, wipe out the dryer.
Once you’ve got the stains out, run the next dryer cycle with some damp rags or towels to remove any remaining residue.
Wipe down the drum with rubbing alcohol to ensure your next set of clothes goes in an extra clean drum. However, keep the dryer’s door open for an hour before the next run.
The next time your tumble dryer leaves black marks on your laundry, get a thorough inspection part-by-part to figure out the cause and get the fix done accordingly.
You could get a technician to inspect it for you to save you some time and effort.