Ned Ludd » When Do I Add Fabric Softener to Washing Machine? (Tricks to Use)

When Do I Add Fabric Softener to Washing Machine? (Tricks to Use)

Regarding fabric softeners, opinions are divided. Most people enjoy using them, but some do it the wrong way for years. Basically, using this product depends on the washing machine type you have.

Most housewives ask themselves: When do I add fabric softener to the washing machine? The answer is simple. You can add it before starting the load or during the rinse cycle. The goal is to get soft and snuggly fresh clothes without static cling.


What Is Fabric Softener?

What Is Fabric Softener

Fabric softener (conditioner) is an after-care product you should add to the laundry to keep it soft, fragrant, and fluffy. You can use it after washing laundry by hand or in the washing machine.

However, many people are unsure where and when to put fabric conditioners when putting clothes in their washing machines. In the past, housewives needed to wait for the rinse cycle before adding fabric conditioner, and it was crucial to pick out the right moment.

Nowadays, most new washing machines have a few dispenser compartments, but they can be located differently, depending on your device type. Therefore, adding fabric conditioner will slightly vary for those with a top or front loader.


Fabric softener types

Fabric softener types

Liquid fabric softener – It is an excellent option for washing machines with a built-in dispenser. However, it is possible to add it manually once the final rinse cycle starts.

Dryer sheets and balls – This modern and practical option allows you to add softener to the load at the dryer cycle start.

Downy ball – This relatively new product allows direct applying fabric softener to laundry in the washing machine with top loading but without a dispenser for this product. The procedure includes filling the downy ball with conditioner and adding it into the wash tub before the wash cycle begins.


Ways to Use Fabric Conditioner In The Washing Machine

Ways to Use Fabric Conditioner In The Washing Machine

1. Determine how much fabric softener to use

Most liquid fabric softeners come with a measuring cup, and you can take the dose yourself. Besides, the washing machine’s dispenser with a flower symbol has a MAX line showing you how much product to add.

2. Never add fabric softener directly to clothes

A fabric softener is not a product you should add directly to the machine drum at any washing cycle stage. Applying thick and brightly colored liquid will probably cause stains and difficult-to-remove waxy spots on the fabric.

The only solution is to dilute it with water before pouring it into the dispenser created for this purpose.

3. Never mix fabric softener with laundry detergent

Adding fabric softener in the wash cycle beginning will lead to combining conditioner with laundry detergent. That will prevent its primary purpose and diminish both products’ effectiveness.

Simply said, fabric softeners coat fibers with wax or oil, inhibiting the detergent’s ability to clean clothes properly. On the other hand, adding detergent to the fabric softener dispenser will leave your clothes soapy in the end, so you will need to rinse them once more.

Finally, you should regularly maintain the washing machine dispenser to prevent residue from accumulating and damaging the engine.


Reasons to use fabric softener

Reasons to use fabric softener

Every housewife will tell you how beneficial fabric softener can be whether you use liquid or powder type. Basically, it detangles and protects cloth fibers and makes them less rough. Plus, it adds perfume bubbles to make each clothing piece fragrant and pleasant.

You can use these products if you enjoy the numerous advantages they provide:

  1. Make clothes smell good
  2. Protect clothes from wear and tear
  3. Coat clothes with a thin polymer film to prevent water absorption
  4. Prevent pilling, fading, and stretching in clothes
  5. Maintains material and stabilizes its shape
  6. Reduce static electricity
  7. Reduce creasing and wrinkling, making ironing quicker and effortless
  8. Make fabrics hydrophobic and reduce water absorption
  9. It has antibacterial properties


Reasons to avoid fabric softener

Once you start using fabric softener, it will be hard to give up on it. Unfortunately, most of these products contain harmful chemicals derived from petroleum products. Therefore, they often cause asthma, irritate the skin, and increase cancer risk.

One of the crucial mistakes is adding more than the recommended conditioner amount into the washing machine. Too many chemicals will damage your clothes and negatively affect their quality. Finally, they definitely have a destroying effect on the environment.


Fabric softener necessity

Actually, you don’t need to use fabric softener since these products have no contribution to clothing washing and cleaning. On the other hand, they are not designed to involve the cleaning process but to make the fabric soft, fragrant, and pleasurable to wear.


When Adding Fabric Softener to the Washing Machine?

The moment of adding fabric softener directly to the washing machine depends on its type and the dispenser.

Machine with a softener dispenser

Machine with a softener dispenser

As you know, many modern washing machines feature a few dispensers, so you can effortlessly add and properly dispense chosen product. You can recognize different compartments, such as those for:

  • Pre-wash detergent
  • Wash detergent
  • Bleach liquid
  • Liquid chlorine
  • Fabric softener

When your washing machine has a part for adding fabric softeners, you shouldn’t think much about the moment of adding it. It is OK to pour detergent and softener at the same time but in separated dispensers.

Automatic dispenser

Washing machines containing automatic dispensers have a cup in the center. If you have this model, you should use the fill lines on the dispenser side to measure the right liquid amount. Pour fabric softener in the beginning and let the device does the rest.

The machine automatically completes the wash cycle, drains the water, and starts a spin cycle. After that moment, it will release and dilute softener from the dispenser during a rinse cycle. In the end, the machine will remove water from the clothes during the next spinning cycle.

Front loader

Washing machines with front loaders have a drawer for fabric softener. It is necessary to pull it out as far as it can go and add liquid. Most models have lines indicating how much fabric softener to pour.

The only thing to do is add fabric softener into the dispenser and let the machine release it at the right time. Since it is possible to stop most modern models during washing, you can opt to add liquid yourself at the rinse cycle beginning.

Top loader

In this washing machine type, the fabric softener dispenser is typically located inside the agitator or in the middle of the drum. It is enough to pour the fabric softener into it and dilute it with water when necessary. The machine will finish the job without your effort and automatically dispense liquid during the spin cycle.


Machine without a softener dispenser

Machine without a softener dispenser

Believe it or not, you can still use fabric softener, although your old washing machine doesn’t have a dispenser. In this case, you need to manually add it into the water pocket during the rinse cycle.

If you add it too early, it will be washed away without the desired effect. Remember that combining conditioner with laundry detergent will neutralize both products’ effectiveness.



If you use the washing machine in the laundromat, it is crucial to check whether it has a fabric softener dispenser. Some models feature the laundry detergent dispenser with double duty, so you should add a conditioner when the rinsing cycle starts.


When Should You Not Use Fabric Softener?

When Should You Not Use Fabric Softener

No matter how great the fabric softener is for most fabrics, you should avoid adding it to the washing machine when washing certain clothing types because of their unique characteristics.

Otherwise, this product will probably damage the fabric over time. The best way is to check the care label, but you should also be aware of materials that shouldn’t be treated with fabric softener.


Adding fabric softener to athletic wear will annul this clothing’s wicking technology and prevent absorbing sweat from your skin and cooling you while working out. Plus, it will reduce the ability to stretch clothes containing elastane.


Besides making towels soft and fragrant, a liquid fabric softener will reduce their absorbency. The best option is to skip adding this product every few washes and replace it with a mix of a half cup of baking soda and a cup of white vinegar.

Flame-resistant clothing

Keep in mind that fabric softener reduces fabric’s flame resistance, and you should avoid using it when washing flame-resistant clothing. Plus, some of these products may contain potentially flammable chemicals, making further use of these clothes dangerous.

Water-repellent fabric

Fabric softeners coat material fibers and directly impact their ability to repel water. That way, such material loses its original purpose.


The intricate threads this material features absorb spills and trap dust. Unfortunately, fabric softener destroys its effectiveness over time. Since this product coats fibers, it will decrease their ability to absorb water. Plus, it will reduce static electricity necessary for trapping dust.



As you can see, you have two ways to add fabric softener to the washing machine. Do it before the wash cycle by adding the chosen product into an automatic dispenser. If your device doesn’t have it, you should wait until the rinse cycle and add fabric softener to make it effective.

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