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3 Tricks For How To Use Fabric Conditioner In The Washing Machine

Unsure how to use fabric softener? This article will tell you all you need to know, with tips & advice on when & how to use softener in your washing machine.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

Written by Eunice Samson

Woman wearing a soft scarf

The general virtues of fabric softener (also known as fabric conditioner) are well known: they infuse your clothes with a fresh scent and – as the name suggests – they make your clothes soft. They also protect your clothes from wear and tear and reduce static cling.

Of course, knowing when and how to use fabric softener isn’t always so simple. So, from how to use fabric softener to questions like: ‘does fabric conditioner clean clothes?’ – We’ve got the ultimate guide to getting the best out of your fabric softener, including when you should avoid using it!

Fabric conditioner not only gives your family’s clothes long-lasting fragrance but also keeps them soft & easy to iron. Use Surf Fabric Conditioner to keep your clothes smelling fresh and fragrant for up to 14 days!

When do you use fabric softener? The 3 key things you need to know

  1. The location of the fabric softener. In most washing machines, fabric softener should be added to a part of the drawer where you add detergent and bleach – the location of the fabric softener section can vary between machines, so be sure to check your washing machine’s manual.

  2. Use the measuring cup. Most fabric softeners are in liquid form and generally come with a measuring cup. It's very important that you don't use too much - it may make your clothes starchy or stained and is a waste of product.

  3. The amount of fabric conditioner. Fill the cup according to the instructions on the label of the bottle: adjust the amount of fabric conditioner you use according to the size of the load. Pour the fabric softener from the cup into the relevant drawer, and the machine will add the softener into the wash during the rinse cycle.

The DOS and DONT’S when using fabric softener

  • Don’t let fabric softener come directly into contact with clothes as it will stain and spot them.

  • Don’t use more than the recommended amount – it could damage the quality of your clothes (and make them dirtier ­– not cleaner!)

  • Don't use fabric softener on some types of materials – like the ones designed to absorb sweat, e.g. sportswear.

  • Do use fabric softener to keep towels soft! Just follow the directions on the label and you will have soft and fluffy towels.

  • Don't use fabric softener every time you wash your towels. Fabric softeners can reduce the absorbency of towels so to keep them fluffy and absorbent at the same time you should only use fabric softener in every other wash.

Key steps

  1. Quantity. Read the instructions to find out how much to use in the machine

  2. Frequency. Use fabric softener to soften towels, but not in every wash

  3. Fabric care. Avoid spilling fabric softener on clothes – it will stain!

how to use fabric softner
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Fabric softner precautions for sensitive skin

When using fabric softener, it is essential to take precautions, especially for those with sensitive skin. Opt for fabric softeners specifically formulated for sensitive skin or labeled as hypoallergenic. Read product labels carefully to ensure they do not contain harsh chemicals or fragrances that can cause skin irritation. Conduct a patch test on a small, inconspicuous area of clothing or fabric before using the fabric softener on a larger scale. Consider reducing the amount of fabric softener used or diluting it with water to minimize potential skin reactions. Additionally, wash clothing thoroughly after using fabric softener to remove any residue that may come into contact with sensitive skin.

Do you want to learn which household cleaning tasks cause the most stress?  Then read our Heated Household data analysis. 

Frequntly asked questions on using fabic softener

Can you soak clothes in fabric softener overnight?

It is not recommended that you leave your clothing and other fabrics to soak in fabric softener. Fabric softener could stain your clothing, and leave bluish or grey spots. If you do notice any stains on your clothing, we have a number of articles to help you remove them in the 'Laundry' section.

Can you hand wash clothes with fabric softener?

Fabric softener isn't just for use in washing machines – you can also hand wash with fabric softener. Add one tablespoon of fabric softener to a cup of water to create a solution for handwashing. Do not pour the softener onto clothing directly.

Why isn't my fabric softener draining after washing?

So, why isn't fabric softener draining properly from your wash? It could be a number of things, but the main culprit is usually a clogged dispenser. Remove and thoroughly clean the dispenser using warm water and a sponge or old toothbrush. Test the cleanliness with clean water. If it doesn't drain it’s likely there is still residue obstructing it, so clean it again.

When does the washing machine use fabric softener during the washing cycle?

No, fabric softener is added to the washing machine during the rinse cycle, not the wash cycle.

How do you use fabric softener in a washing machine without dispenser?

If you're wondering how to use fabric softener in the washing machine without a dispenser, all you need to do is add the correct amount to the lid and place it directly in the drum of the washing machine. Remember to store the open bottle of fabric softener safely away from children and where it won't be at risk of spilling until the wash is done and you can replace the cap.

Originally published