Is Fabric Softener Bad for Your Washing Machine?

Last Updated on January 2, 2023

Answering to the question of Is Fabric Softener Bad for Your Washing Machine? Yes, it is. Fabric softener isn’t suitable for washing machines. Usually, fabric softeners are petroleum based and contain animal fat, which stimulates the probability of mold growing in the machine and clogging up the small sensitive parts and pipes of the washing machine. If you continue with us in this article, we will tell you some more details to clear up unknowns.

What is Fabric Softener Used for?

The softener is a product usually sold in a liquid state, although it is also possible to find it in other formats, such as wipes. To choose it, we base ourselves on the aroma it leaves on the garments, but, in reality, it has many other functions.

Is Fabric Softener Bad for Your Washing Machine

This product has surfactants, a substance that adheres to the fibers of different clothing fabrics, resulting in more fluffiness, volume, and aroma. It is especially effective, for example, on 100% cotton clothing

On the other hand, it also contributes to reducing the appearance of wrinkles and making ironing easier. However, you should be aware that it does not have cleansing properties.

Is Fabric Softener Harmful? (Overall)

Is Fabric Softener Harmful

No, not at all. Fabric softener is not harmful, nor does it need to make you fear for your clothes. It is a very useful product, but its use does have certain nuances that you should know. For example, some washing machine programs do not take it directly from the box because they understand it is unsuitable for the fabric, such as with certain sportswear

What to Use Instead of Fabric Softener in the Washing Machine?

Instead of fabric softener, you can use the following options in the washing machine:

  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Hair Conditioner
  • Epsom salt
  • Essential oil with vinegar

What Can I Put in the Washing Machine if I Don’t Have Detergent?

If you don’t have detergent to wash your clothes, you can use laundry borax or baking Soda in the washing machine.

Mistakes When Using Fabric Softener in the Washing Machine

Although putting clothes in the washing machine is one of the simplest household tasks, the truth is that we make several mistakes that can damage the clothes and the washing machine. 

The biggest doubts arise when we have to add detergent and fabric softener. What amount? In the bucket or the drum? With hot or cold water? Therefore, to know all these questions answers check this list below and see which mistakes you’re making when using detergent.

1. Adding Too Much Detergent

If you go too far by putting the soap in the washing machine, it will most likely generate a lot of foam, which will cause hair, dust, or grit to float above the water level, making rinsing difficult, and this residue will pour down the drain. 

How to avoid it? Check the label of the detergent and fabric softener. Depending on the level of hardness of the water, the dirt on the clothes, and the load of the washing machine, you will have to add a quantity of detergent. The softer the water, the lower the need for detergent.

Another problem with excess detergent is that towels, bathrobes, etc., will lose their absorbent capacity and pollute more than necessary.

2. Always Use Hot Water

Even if you use one of the best detergents on the market, if it is a powder product, it is best to use hot water for washing. With cold water (less than 30°C), the powder detergent will not dissolve well and will leave white marks on the clothes, much more visible if the clothes are also dark. Check on the label of each garment what temperature each garment admits, and if you cannot wash it with hot water, you may have to consider changing the soap for a liquid one.

3. Use the Same Detergent for Everything

In addition to liquid and powder soap, there are also detergents for delicate garments. Certain clothes, such as those made with wool, cashmere, or silk, need a milder soap that protects the fibers. So, just as you choose a different washing machine program for these clothes, do the same with the soap.

4. Adding More Fabric Softener Doesn’t Make It Smell Better

In fact, it’s almost the opposite. Due to an excess of fabric softener, there will be clothes that will spoil, but it will also interfere with the absorbent properties of towels, washcloths, and bathrobes. Also, fabric softener is one of the most polluting household cleaning products, so you may have to consider whether to switch to vinegar. It works as a deodorizer and will also keep your washing machine odor-free.

5. Not Cleaning the Washing Machine

Although it is not a mistake when using detergent and softener per se, the remains of these products can clog both the compartment to pour them and the drain. So that this does not happen, you must clean the washing machine: make a mixture of baking soda and cleaning vinegar and activate a short washing machine program. It will eliminate odors, and the mixture will remove any traces of soap and fabric softener from the ducts.

6. Always Pour the Same Amount

Always pour both detergent and fabric softener in the same amount. There will be washes dirtier than others, but there will also be those with a greater load, which varies the amount of product you must add. Forget about always using the same amount. It varies depending on the type of laundry you are going to put in.

7. Thinking That Soap Takes Everything Away

Certain stains, such as oil, blood, wine, or chocolate, will not go away just by putting the clothes in the washing machine. It is better to wash these types of stains with some neutral soap and rub them beforehand. 


 “Is using fabric softener could be bad for your washing machine?”- It is a common question many consumers have, though it is often overlooked when doing laundry. It may surprise you that fabric softeners can harm your washer in a few ways. Not only can fabric softener make your washing machine less efficient, but it can also cause unpleasant odors and even outright block the appliance.

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