when to add fabric softener in a washer

When to add Fabric Softener in the Washer

Back in the day, there was only one point to add fabric softener and the key was timing. You had to stay glued to the timer, wait for your machine to get to the rinse cycle, and add the conditioner as the washer filled in the rinse water.

Flash-forward, technological advances have resulted to feature rich machines with product dispenser compartments that are located in different places depending on whether your machine is a top loader or front loader.

With this kind of inevitable change, you have to be aware of when to add fabric softener depending on the kind of a machine that you are working with.

When to Add Fabric Softener in a Washer without Dispenser

when to add fabric softener in a washer

Washers without dispensers are older models. Bigger, better and build to last. Most of them are workhorses that have been in use for the last 30 years and still going strong with minimal or zero repairs.

But when it comes to using fabric softener, most have one shortcoming that can ruin your whole laundry experience. They lack a dispenser compartment. This is not a design flaw or something of the sort. It is just lack of a feature that was not a top design priority back then.

With lack of a dispenser, it means you have to be keen and add fabric softener at the right time. The right time to add fabric softener is during the rinse cycle. So how do you do it?

After starting a wash cycle on your machine, sit back and let it do the washing until it gets to the spin cycle. Next, measure the right quantity of softener and pour it into the water pockets so that it does not sit in the drum undiluted and stain your clothes.

Alternatively, dilute it with water in a bottle and shake well then pour it as the rinse water fills the drum. You can also opt for a Downy Fabric Softener Dispenser Ball which takes the donkey work off your hands when using a tradition non HE top loader. Add your product to the ball and place in the washer at the beginning of the wash cycle.

Avoid the mistake of adding fabric softener at the beginning of a wash cycle if your machine does not have a dispenser. Ideally, you would be combining your conditioner with laundry detergent, a wasteful move that neutralizes the effectiveness of both products.

When to Add Fabric Softener in a Top Loading Machine

If you have a modern top loading machine, it most likely has a dispenser where you should put fabric conditioner.

Begin by putting laundry detergent in its rightful place, then measure the right amount of fabric conditioner and add it to the fabric softener compartment. All this should take place at the beginning of a wash cycle.  If you cannot locate the dispenser, follow the instructions above for adding softener into a machine without a dispenser.

A top loader releases fabric softener into the rinse water during the rinse cycle. As the rinse water rises in the drum, the fabric softener is pushed out of the dispenser and diffuses in the water to form a solution that softens clothes and removes static cling from them.

When to Add Fabric Softener in a Front Loader

when to add fabric softener in the washer

Front loading machines are the most modern in terms of design and have a fabric softener compartment located near the laundry detergent and bleach compartments.

Locate the detergent compartment and fill with the right amount of laundry detergent.

Add fabric softener in the right compartment as well and select the appropriate wash cycle. Dilute your softener first if it is too thick because it can clog the compartment.

The machine automatically dispenses the detergent during the wash cycle and the fabric softener during the final rinse cycle.

How to Add Fabric Softener in a Washer that Locks

All washers are not built the same. Some are characterized by an auto lock feature that gets into action soon after the machine starts a cycle for safety reasons. Ideally, the lid locks in such a way that you can’t just open it mid-cycle.

If your machine functions this way, be sure to check whether it has a fabric softener dispenser and fill it before you start a cycle.

If it doesn’t, pause the cycle after the first spin and add detergent into the final rinse water. Close the lid and continue the cycle but also use the extra-rinse option.  

With these kind of washers, you still have the option to use a fabric softener ball instead of going through the trouble of timing the rinse cycle and opening the washer.

How to Add Vinegar in a Washing Machine

Let’s face it! Fabric softener is not for everyone. And most people who don’t like it find comfort in rinsing their clothes with vinegar. This household necessity is a magical cleaner that strips laundry detergent residue from yours clothes, softens them to the touch and leaves behind a lingering smell of freshness.

But just like fabric softener, you have to know how and when to add it to the washing machine. Generally, vinegar should go to your washing machine during the rinse cycle. But depending on the design of your washer, you do not have to wait until it starts the final rinse.

Only wait until the final rinse cycle if your machine does not have a fabric softener compartment. Add a half cup of vinegar to the rinsing water and leave the rest of the work to your machine.

Do not add vinegar at the beginning of the wash cycle because you cannot combine it with laundry detergent.

Add vinegar in the fabric softener compartment if you have a front loading machine or a top loader with a softener compartment. The dispenser releases it during the final rinse cycle.

If using a top-loader without a compartment, add a ½ cup vinegar to the central column and the machine will release it to the final rinsing water.

Fabric Softener Ball

The fabric softener ball has been around for a long time. That being said, many people forgo the ease of using it for the unnecessary trouble of timing the rinse cycle to add fabric softener into the washer.

Using a fabric softener ball is a breeze if your washer does not have an automatic dispenser. Simply measure the right amount of softener, add it in the ball, dilute with a bit of water and shake well. Toss the ball on top of your fabrics and sit back.

The ball releases the fabric softener during the rinse cycle and everything works out just fine.


Can you put fabric softener with detergent together in the washing machine?

You cannot put fabric softener with detergent in the washing machine because the two serve different purposes. The composition of laundry detergent comprises of anionic surfactant that removes soiling from clothes and later causes it to stay suspended in water so that it does not stick on the clothes again.

On the other hand, the composition of fabric softener comprises of positively charged cationic conditioning agent that helps with introducing the soft feel on clothes as well as removing static cling.

When the two are combined together, the negative and positive charges interact and the anionic surfactant neutralizes the cationic conditioner.

What happens if I accidentally put fabric softener instead of laundry detergent?

Adding fabric softener accidently into the laundry detergent compartment is a common mistake that does not lead to any harmful consequences. The softener is dispensed during the wash cycle and your machine continues to run as normal.

Since fabric softener does not contain the right compounds to remove dirt and stains from clothes, it coats the clothing with its conditioning agent like it does during the rinse cycle. The clothes only release a bit of dirt from agitation and soaking with water.

Can you put fabric softener in the beginning of wash?

You can put fabric softener at the beginning of the wash cycle if your machine has a fabric softener compartment. The softener will sit in the dispenser until the last rinse cycle when it gets released into the rinsing water.

Do not put fabric softener in your machine at the beginning of the wash cycle if your machine does not have a softener compartment. It will be mixed up with detergent and the mixture will do nothing for your clothes.

They won’t clean out properly or soften to the touch

Can I pour fabric softener directly on clothes?

Do not pour fabric softener directly on clothes because it will stain them badly. The consistency of fabric softener requires that it mixes with water first before it comes into contact with clothes.

Water dilutes it well so that it can soften your clothes and infuse them with a nice aroma.

When should you not use fabric softener?

You should not use fabric softener when washing towels, flame-resistant clothes, terry cloths, any clothing of item with microfiber fabric and athletic wear.

Wash these garments as normal and rinse them in a solution of water and vinegar. It softens them just like fabric softener would, but it does not ruin their absorbency and moisture wicking properties. It also does not increase the flammability of flame-resistant clothes.

How do you add fabric softener to Whirpool washer without dispenser?

Add fabric softener in the agitator, dilute it with warm water and let your machine do the rest of the job.

What’s the point of fabric softener?

Fabric softener serves multiple functions but its first point is to coat clothes with a film that leaves them feeling soft. Secondly, fabric softener is made of cationic agents that neutralize static charge thus making clothes static free.

Lastly, fabric softener also serves the purpose of reducing wrinkling. Clothes rinsed in water that contains fabric softener come out less wrinkly compared to clothes rinsed in pure water.

What happens if you use fabric softener when it says not to?

If you are a regular buyer of fabric softening products, you have probably read labels that discourage you from using them on towels, terry cloths, flame resistant fabrics and athletic wear.

When you use fabric softener on towels, terry cloths, microfiber fabrics and athletic wear, the lubricating property of the conditioner coats them and reduces their absorbency and moisture wicking properties. This ruins their performance that makes them useless for the purpose they are intended to serve.

Using fabric softener on flame-resistant clothes such as babies’ sleepwear decreases their flame-resistance property. Therefore, it becomes easier for their fibers to catch fire.

Why can’t I smell my fabric softener?

After rinsing your clothes in water that contains a generous amount of fabric softener, you obviously have your hopes high. You expect your clothes to infuse with a noticeably rich fragrance that lasts way beyond the wash day.

However, sometimes all the effort goes down the drain and you cannot smell the slightest note of your softener’s smell. The first direction to look should be your washer.

 According to Whitegoodshelp a slight problem in the washing machine can cause stray water to get into the fabric softener compartment and wash away the product way before the rinse cycle.

The issue can also arise from a fabric softener compartment that does not dispense the conditioning agent properly. In this case, only a negligible amount of product goes into the rinsing water during the rinse cycle, meaning that your clothes do not get enough softener to feel soft or smell nicely.

The last possible source of the problem is a dirty washer with product buildup. The gunk inside the machine releases a funk that overpowers the fabric softener smell. This replaces the good smell you look forward to on your clothes.

Can I put fabric softener in the drum?

It is not a good idea to put fabric softener in the drum at any stage of the wash cycle. If you put it the beginning of the wash cycle, it will combine laundry detergent and not of the solutions will serve the intended purpose.

A decision to add fabric softener in the drum during the rinse cycle is equally doomed because fabric softener is thick and brightly colored. It will leave a myriad of stains on your clothes, subjecting you to the unnecessary task of removing the stains.

The best way to add fabric softener in your machine is to add in the fabric softener compartment. Unfortunately, this is not always possible because some machines lack this feature.

If yours belongs to this category, you have the options of adding fabric softener directly to the water socket as the machine fills the final rinse cycle water. Alternatively, use a fabric softener ball at the beginning of the wash cycle.

A good tip is to dilute extra-thick fabric softener so that it can diffuse at a better rate in the rinsing water.

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