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How to use fabric conditioner: your essential guide

Follow these top tips on using fabric softener for cloud-soft, beautifully fragranced clothes and towels.

Updated By Cleanipedia Team

Blue fabric softener bottle in front of folded yellow towels

Fabric conditioner has been a staple laundry product for many years now. But recently there’s been some debate over how to use fabric conditioner in washing machines and handwashing, if it should be used, and whether there are any downsides. So, what is fabric conditioner, where does fabric softener go, and what is best, fabric conditioner vs softener?

We have all the answers in this quick and easy guide.

What is fabric conditioner?

Fabric conditioner is a popular laundry product designed to help keep clothes soft and your towels fluffy. In the same way we might put conditioner on our hair to enhance its feel and manageability, fabric softener is widely considered as a type of after-care for your clothes. Fabric conditioner is also a great way to add a fresh scent to your clothes. Choose a conditioner like Comfort Ultimate Ultra Concentrated, designed to protect clothes against damage and deliver long-lasting fragrance.

Fabric conditioners can be used both in the washing machine, where they are added to the washing machine drawer (read on for advice on which correct compartment to put fabric conditioner in) or in the basin when hand washing. Not sure where to put fabric conditioner in the washing machine? And what is the best way to use it when handwashing clothes? Read on to find out.

Where does fabric softener go?

Where you add it will depend on the type of washing machine you have, either a top-load or a front-load machine.

A general rule of thumb is that the compartment is usually indicated by a flower symbol. It can, however, vary depending on the type of washing machine you have, so if you still have the manual, it’s best to refer to it.

If you haven’t got the manual, it’s well worth searching the model and manufacturer on YouTube for advice – plenty of brands (and helpful enthusiasts) have videos to help you figure out where to put fabric conditioner and other laundry products. We also have a handy guide for knowing where to put other washing products if you’re unsure.

Fabric conditioner vs softener: Which is best?

This is a question often asked, but it is a common misconception that they are two separate things – there is no difference between fabric conditioner and softener, they are simply different names for the same product.

Now we’ve got the basics covered, let’s learn how to use fabric conditioner.

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RequiredComfort Fresh sky Ultimate Care
Comfort Fresh Sky Ultimate Care Bottle

How to use fabric conditioner in the washing machine

For front-load washing machines, the fabric conditioner goes in the detergent drawer compartment marked with a flower symbol. Measure out the required amount of fabric conditioner and add it to the drawer before starting the load – for our favourite fabric softener, Comfort Ultimate, you’ll need a 15ml dose per wash. The machine will add the softener automatically during the right part of the wash cycle.

For top-load machines, measure out the correct amount of fabric conditioner and add it to the dispenser which is usually found in the central column. Again, your machine will dispense the softener automatically.

No matter what type of machine you have, when it comes to knowing how to use fabric conditioner, follow these simple steps:

  1. Know how much fabric softener to use

    Most fabric softeners are available in liquid form and generally come with a measuring cup to help you measure the correct dose. Your washing machine's detergent drawer or dispenser should have a max. line too. You can adjust the amount of fabric conditioner you use according to the size of the load of your laundry. Check the instructions on the packaging for extra guidance.

  2. Add fabric softener to your wash

    We have dealt with the question ‘where does fabric softener go?' in the section above – remember to look out for the flower symbol.

  3. Let your machine do the rest

    Pour the fabric softener from the cup into the relevant drawer and the machine will automatically add the softener into the wash during the rinse cycle.

Check your washing machine usage instructions if in doubt about how to use fabric conditioner in your machine.

Fabric conditioner: How to use when hand washing

Fabric conditioner isn’t just for washing machines, it can work its magic on your hand-washed garments too (just be sure to check the care label before you use it).

  1. Wash clothes as normal

    Once the clothes have been washed with detergent, drain away the water and refill with clean rinsing water.

  2. Add the fabric conditioner

    Mix one tablespoon of fabric conditioner with a cup of water and add the solution to the water (don’t pour it directly on the clothes).

  3. Let the clothes soak

    Stir the garments, letting them soak for a few minutes before wringing them out and drying as directed.

    Be sure to use a softener that looks after your clothes, like Comfort Ultimate Care, formulated with revolutionary pro-fibre technology which penetrates deep down between fibres and helps protect them from damage caused by washing.

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Should I always use fabric softener?

The benefits of fabric softener mean it can be used as part of your normal laundry routine as an easy, convenient addition that helps you care for your clothes. While it can be used on most materials, there are a few exceptions which we outline below. It’s advised to always check the care labels of your clothes before washing them with fabric conditioner.

Getting the best results from your fabric conditioner

Now that you know how and when to use fabric softener, we’ve put these top tips together so you can enjoy great results every time with softer, fresh-smelling clothes.

  • Never use the cap to dose any other detergents Cross contaminating the cap with just one drop of a liquid laundry detergent can cause your fabric conditioner to become too thick to use.

  • Avoid direct contact with clothes There’s a risk it could stain them, so never apply it neat to your clothing

  • Avoid direct contact with skin If you do spill some, wash immediately in case of irritation.

After reading through this guide, your questions about using fabric conditioner should have been answered and you should now know how to use fabric conditioner safely and for best results.

Your top questions on using fabric conditioner

Why use fabric conditioner in your wash?

There are many benefits to using fabric conditioner, including helping to make clothes last longer, infusing fresh-smelling scent in your clothes, and protecting sensitive skin from rough material.

Is fabric softener necessary for fluffy towels?

Nothing beats a freshly laundered, fluffy towel. But while using fabric conditioner might seem like an obvious solution to keep them soft, overuse can reduce the absorbency of towels by coating the towel fibres with an oil-based film. Only add it every other wash to keep your towels fluffy, soft, and absorbent.

How do you store fabric softener?

Store at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. Avoid extremes of heat or cold, and never let fabric conditioner freeze. These will all compromise the quality of the product. Make sure to use within three months of purchase - Storing fabric conditioner for long periods of time can cause the product to become too thick for use.

Originally published