When To Put in Fabric Softener – Chemist Reveals

Fabric softeners are great laundry accessories that make our clothes a lot better. However, some disadvantages come with using fabric softener improperly and at the wrong time.

When Should I Put in Fabric Softener? Fabric softeners are best used when rinsing your clothes. If you use a fabric softener during the wash cycle, the softener and the detergent might make each other less effective.

In the Journal of Surfactants and Detergents, Mathew Levinson, a chemist, highlights that using a detergent at the same time with a fabric softener can cause a reaction between the chemicals found in both substances.

Can You Put Fabric Softener in at the Beginning of a Wash?

Fabric softener should be used at the beginning of a rinse cycle, and not during the wash cycle. Using fabric softener together with detergents can reduce the detergent’s effectiveness.

If you use fabric softener on your clothes while following appropriate procedures, you stand to gain some benefits. In general, your clothes will get softer, feel better, smell nice, and maintain their shape for an extended period. All these advantages will only be enjoyed if you use fabric softener correctly.

If you are using a washing machine, then you might be able to apply fabric softener with ease. Depending on the type of washing machine you have, there are usually compartments that are made to hold fabric softener and then release it occasionally during the rinse cycle.

Top loader washing machines and front loader washing machines have dispensers and drawers respectively for containing fabric conditioners. While some machines dispense fabric softeners automatically, you can dispense it yourself if you own a manual variant. Finding the location of the dispenser or drawer should be easy once you refer to your washing machine’s instruction manual.

On the other hand, some washing machines do not have either a dispenser or a drawer that is meant to accommodate and release fabric conditioners. In cases like this, applying fabric softener to your clothing might be a bit more technical.

First, you should ensure that you finish the wash cycle with detergent alone and rinse the clothes. Afterward, you can add clean water to the clothes and then add a fabric softener that has been diluted with water to complete the process.

If you are washing your clothes with your hands, then your use of fabric softener should be similar to that of a washing machine that does not have a dispenser or drawer. After handwashing your clothes with detergent and rinsing them, you should add clean water to the container.

Next, dilute some fabric softener in a cup of water and add the mixture to the water containing the clothes, while avoiding pouring the mixture directly on the clothes. Afterward, let the clothes soak for some minutes, squeeze them, and hang them out to dry.

If you are applying the fabric softener yourself, it is important to dilute it first and then pour it into the water and not on the clothes themselves. This procedure is necessary because fabric softener has several strong chemicals that can stain your clothes.

Also, when pouring the fabric softener, you should avoid touching the concentrated liquid if possible. If you have sensitive skin, fabric conditioner can cause itchiness, particularly if you touch it constantly.

Can You Put Fabric Softener in a Top Loader?

You can put a fabric softener in the dispenser that comes with your top loader washing machine.

The two most common types of washing machines are the top loader and the front loader. A top loader has a dispenser, while a front loader has a drawer. For both types, you can pour in fabric softener, and it will be dispensed while the machine is running.

Can You Put Fabric Softener Directly on Clothes?

Fabric softeners are not meant to be put directly on clothes because they contain strong chemical compounds that can negatively affect clothes, leaving unwanted stains.

The use of a fabric softener is often regarded as a key step when doing laundry since fabric softeners are great for making clothes look and feel better. However, you need to take some care when applying fabric softeners, because they can easily cause harm to your clothes.

Fabric conditioners are vastly different from basic detergents and are not meant to be applied directly to clothes. Apart from the fact that they contain powerful chemicals that can stain your clothes, they also leave a waxy coating that can affect how your clothes feel.

The proper way to use a fabric conditioner is to dilute it with water first, before using it for your laundry. By adding water, the concentration of the strong compounds is reduced, ensuring that your clothes are safe and do not get stained.

Apart from the danger that comes with using a fabric softener directly on fabrics, humans are also at risk when encountering fabric softeners. The chemicals that are found in a fabric conditioner can be harmful when they encounter a person’s skin.

If you touch fabric softener, you might experience unpleasant itchiness or burning sensations. This discomfort can also occur when a fabric softener enters someone’s eye. Another risk of using fabric softeners is that they irritate the respiratory tract and can cause nausea or vomiting.

Some other health problems are related to the use of fabric softener such as cancer because of the presence of benzyl acetate and nervous system damage. All these risks just show that you should not be worried about your clothes alone when using fabric softener, but also your health.

Where Do I Put Fabric Softener in My Washing Machine?

Depending on the type of washing machine that you are using, you could either put fabric softener in the dispenser or the drawer.

Just like many other electrical home appliances, washing machines have been integrated into our everyday lives because of how important their function is. Even though the basic function of the washing machine is to get clothes cleaned up, there are several individual functions that they can perform.

This variety is because different manufacturers have produced various specifications for their products, making their functions unique. Where you put and how you use fabric softener with your washing machine is dependent on the type, function, and structure of your washing machine.

The two main washing machine forms are the top loader and their front loader. Here are some details on their structure and how to use them with a fabric softener.

  • Top Loader

The top loader washing machine features an uncomplicated design and a very straightforward function. As the name suggests, a top loader washing machine has its opening at the top, where you put in the clothes to be washed.

While top loaders are traditional in their structure and function, they are also great for modern rooms and home designs. Top loaders are popular because they are easy to operate and can be maintained with ease. Since they are open at the top, water can easily evaporate out of a top loader washing machine, helping the machine dry fast and reducing the risk of mildew.

When it comes to using a fabric softener with a top loader washing machine, there is usually a dispenser that comes with a modern top loader. The dispenser is made to contain a fabric softener.

A top loader’s dispenser can either be manual or automatic. If it is manual, then you can release a specified volume of fabric softener whenever you want. On the other hand, automatic dispensers can be programmed to release fabric softeners at intervals during the rinse cycle.

  • Front Loader

The other notable washing machine type is the front loader, and this variation is aptly named, as its door (opening) is located at the front. Apart from this unique structural design, front loader machines have several other qualities that make them stand out from other washing machine types.

A front loader is typically very efficient, as they tend to use a lot less detergent, water, and energy than top loaders. By using a front loader machine, you will save a lot of money because of the lower energy consumption.

While top loaders are considered to clean your clothes faster than front loaders, front loaders are more efficient because they give you cleaner clothes and cause less wear to your clothes than top loaders.

Applying fabric softener to your clothes using a front loader is a straightforward process. Front loaders come with a drawer that is meant to contain the fabric softener to be used while washing. After filling up this washer, fabric softener will automatically be dispensed into the machine.

These drawers usually have a line that indicates the fabric softener limit, and this line should not be exceeded as it can lead to the softener being released improperly and staining clothes. Also, washing machines should only be used with liquid fabric softeners.

In general, front loader washing machines can be said to be better than top loaders, because their function is more top-notch, consume less energy, and use a lot less water and detergent. Top loader washing machines are still used by more people because they are easy to maintain and rarely develop mold.

While the top loader and the front loader are the two main washing machine types, there are other machines with different structures, including some that are variations of the two mentioned above.

These alternative washing machine types include semi-automatic, washer and dryer combo, stackable, tabletop, HE top loader, integrated, and portable (or compact) washing machines.

Here is video by Downy (click to see the current price on Amazon) that explains how and when to use their fabric softener:

Here is a table that analyzes the top fabric softener brands recommended by online forum users. The data is derived from various cleaning/household online forums:

Percentage of Forum users soften their clothing using fabric softeners
Fab 22%
Downy (click here)44%
Snuggle 10%

How Much Fabric Softener to Use Per Load?

The amount of fabric softener to be used per load depends on the fabric softener brand. You should use the instruction manual given by the softener manufacturers for the best results.

Different fabric softeners have distinct components because they are made by assorted brands. Each manufacturer has a unique set of instructions that accompanies their product, and this should be strictly followed.

An excessive amount of fabric conditioner can damage your clothes, while an insufficient volume might not be effective. To get the volume right, you need to stick to the manufacturer’s guide.

Do You Put Fabric Softener on Sheets?

Fabric softener is not compatible with all types of fabric, and you should avoid using fabric softener on your sheets because it affects their texture and function.

As great as fabric softeners are for making sheets feel nice, they are not meant to be used on every single type of clothing. Your bed sheets are among the fabric types that fabric conditioners should not be used on.

When you apply fabric softener on a piece of clothing, it leaves a coating behind, and the thickness of this coating increases if fabric softener is used often. While this coating is not necessarily a terrible thing, it is not a great feature for your bed sheets to have.

When the coating from fabric softeners covers up clothes, it makes them feel more slippery than usual. Having sheets that slip out of your fingers or away from your body is not appealing. Also, the presence of this coating can affect how absorbent or breathable a sheet is.

Also, depending on the types of fabric conditioners and sheets that you use, applying fabric conditioners can weaken the fibers of your sheets, leading to holes being formed in the fabric.

Apart from sheets, several other cloth types are not meant to be treated with fabric conditioners. Here are a few of them.

  • Fire-resistant clothing

When fabric softener is used on clothes that are made to resist fire, their fireproof ability tends to reduce. To ensure that your fireproof clothes remain top-notch, you should wash them with detergent alone.

  • Athletic clothes

Clothes that are used for sporting activities are specially designed to help sweat evaporate quickly, leaving the skin dry. These clothes are called moisture-wicking fabrics. However, the coating from fabric softeners can affect the moisture-wicking abilities of these materials, making them less effective.

  • Water-resistant clothing

Fabric softener is just as incompatible with clothes that repel fire as with clothes that are meant to keep water away. Using detergent only is the best way to wash these types of clothes.

  • Microfiber clothes

Fabric conditioners should also be skipped when washing clothes that are made from microfiber. These clothes, such as towels, are meant to absorb water. When the coating from fabric softeners covers up your towel, its ability to absorb water becomes diminished, making it ineffective.

Aron Blake

I am the lead copywriter on Homezesty and the Webmaster. I have a lot of experience in home renovations and the creation of style. I enjoy writing and sharing my tips on how to create the best living environment. My Linkedin Profile, My Twitter Account

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