How To Use Fabric Softener In A Washing Machine Without A Dispenser

This article walks you through how to use fabric softener in a washing machine without a dispenser. So let’s get into it…

Fabric softeners are one of the most commonly used laundry agents for cleaning clothes. Generally, they are applied to dirty laundry to remove wrinkles and static. Fabric softeners also make clothes smell better and feel softer too. 

They are made from oil and this could stain the clothes they are designed to soften if the softener is not added properly and in the right amount. 

In modern washing machines, fabric softeners are applied to laundry through a fabric softener dispenser. 

A measured amount of fabric softener is poured into the dispenser compartment of the washing machine. The dispenser, in turn, automatically releases the softener safely during the rinse cycle. 

In some washers, the fabric softener is dispensed into the laundry due to the spinning action of the wash drum during the rinse cycle. Fabric softeners always build up in the washing machine’s dispenser. Because of this the dispenser has to be cleaned frequently.

Some washing machines do not come with any fabric softener dispensers. One wonders how fabric softeners can be added to laundry while using such machines. 

There is a way this can be done for top loading washing machines, and we will get to that in a moment. 

But first let’s see how the fabric softener is dispensed in a washing machine equipped with a dispenser. 

Using Fabric Softener In A Machine With A Softener Dispenser

There are washing machines fitted with a fabric softener dispenser and a setting that allows the softener to be dispensed. This setting is usually called the deep rinse or power rinse setting. 

  • In such washers, the machine first completes the wash cycle and drains out the water from that cycle. It then goes into a spin cycle where the softener is released through its dispenser.
  • After the spin cycle is completed, it begins a rinse cycle and fills the wash tub with water. In this rinse cycle, the fabric softener is diluted and distributed through the clothes. 
  • The water is then drained out once the rinse cycle is completed. Another spin cycle is run to remove water from the clothes. 
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It’s interesting to see how the dispenser automatically dispenses the fabric softener at the right time. It does make you think it is not possible to apply fabric softeners to your clothes if your washing machine does not have a dispenser. However, that is not the case. 

  • Fabric softener can still be used if the washing machine model does not have a dispenser but has a fabric softener option in its settings. In such a case, the fabric softener will have to be added manually during its rinse cycle. 

This, however, is more suitable for top loading washers. So, what if your machine has no fabric softener dispenser and also no fabric softener setting option? Let’s show you how to get your fabric softener into your laundry in such cases. 

Adding Fabric Softener Without A Dispenser

  • For top loading washing machines, you can add your fabric softeners manually. However, you need to do this carefully. 
  • You need to know when to add the softener and how to add the softener. The fabric softener should be added during the rinse cycle of your wash. Adding the softener during the wash cycle will cause the softener to be washed away.
  • So, wait till the wash cycle is over. Afterwards, open up your top loading washing machine to apply the softener. 
  • In some models, when the lid is opened like that, the cycle pauses as a safety precaution until the lid is shut again. 
  • Pour the right amount of fabric softener into a cup. It is imperative that you use the exact required amount. Too much fabric softener could stain the clothes. 
  • Also, because fabric softeners can stain your clothes, you need to pour it into pockets of water in the wash tub. This is important. After applying the softener, allow the rinse cycle to proceed as normal. 

Using The Downy Ball

The Downy ball is an innovative product from Downy that allows you to apply fabric softener to your laundry in top loading washing machines. 

  • You could consider getting one of these if you have a top loading washing machine that is not equipped with a fabric softener dispenser. 
  • To use the downy ball, pour the exact required amount of fabric softener into the downy ball. Afterwards, pull the ring at the top of the downy ball. 
  • As you pull it tight, the lid of the ball will close. With this done, you can toss the downy ball into the wash tub just before the wash cycle begins. 
  • The softener will not be released during the wash cycle. Rather, as the washtub spins quickly during the rinse cycle, it will cause the lid of the downy ball to open. This will in turn cause the fabric softener to be automatically released into the laundry. 
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Watch how it works here:

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Other Alternatives That Can Be Used In Place Of Fabric Softeners

The essence of fabric softeners is to soften your laundry, remove static and make your clothes smooth after putting them through the washer. However, fabric softeners are not the only agents that you can use to achieve these. 

  • In the event that you do not have a fabric softener dispenser, or you do not even have fabric softeners at all, what other options can you explore to smoothen your clothes? Here are a few.

Dryer Sheets

  • Dryer sheets can definitely deputize for fabric softeners. Primarily, dryer sheets are employed to get rid of static when your clothes are subjected to drying in a tumble dryer. 
  • These sheets are coated with stearic acid. When you place dryer sheets in the laundry dryer, the stearic acid coating melts away and into the clothes. While this is done to remove static, it also ends up softening the clothes. 
  • To use dryer sheets, place them at the top of your laundry when fitted in the dryer. Use a moderate number of dryer sheets, too many dryer sheets could stain your clothes because of the stearic acid. That is something you do not want.

White Vinegar

  • White vinegar has been employed to soften clothes and has shown to be somewhat effective. It is good enough to be considered a substitute for regular fabric softeners. 
  • Nevertheless, white vinegar has not been shown to be capable of getting rid of static effectively. 
  • To use white vinegar as a softener, add it to your clothes in the exact same way you will add fabric softeners. 
  • You want to fill the tub with water and then add white vinegar to your rinse cycle. Adding it at this point reduces the risk of bleaching and it reduces the chances of your laundry coming out with that vinegar smell that no one really likes. 

Dryer Balls

Dryer balls, much like dryer sheets are very effective in getting rid of static from laundry. Unfortunately, they are not as effective as fabric softeners themselves, in softening clothes. Nevertheless, their effect on clothes could induce some degree of softening on the clothes. 

  • Aluminium dryer balls, rolled up to be three inches thick can be used as dryer balls. Once made, just toss them into the dryer. Wool dryer balls, however, are more popular. They can be purchased in many retail stores. 
  • The dryer balls absorb heat from the dryer itself during the drying process. This alone, improves the efficiency of drying. These heated balls separate damp clothes in the dryer that will normally stick together during the drying process due to their wetness. 
  • As these balls agitate against the fibres in the clothes they tend to soften the clothes to a good degree and eliminate static. 
  • For effectiveness, you will need 3-6 dryer balls. Just toss them into the dryer before the drying cycle starts and retrieve them afterwards. These dryer balls could be used repeatedly until they wear out. 

Clothes That Are Not Ideal For Fabric Softeners

The idea of fabric softeners and static removal sounds pretty good as they leave your clothes coming out fresh from the dryer. 

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However, not every fabric is suitable for fabric softeners. Rather than improve the lifespan of the fabric, the softeners could damage them. 

Here is a list of clothes you cannot use fabric softener with. 

  • Microfiber Clothes: You could damage their ability to absorb spills and trap dust if you use fabric softeners on these types of clothes and that is primarily what they are meant to do. 
  • Athlete Sportswear: Sportswear ought to be breathable fabric to create a cooling effect while you sweat it out. Fabric softeners reduce the efficiency of the cooling effect provided by sportswear. 
  • Children’s Sleepwear: Children’s sleepwear are designed to be flame resistant by normal health standards. However, fabric softeners appear to reduce the flame resistance of children’s sleepwear. It is therefore not advisable to use softeners on children’s sleepwear. 
  • Towels: Towels are made to be super absorbent. But using fabric softeners when washing your towels will reduce their ability to absorb water. So keep softeners away from your towels!

That’s about it. If your washing machine does not have a fabric softener dispenser, any of the alternatives already mentioned could be effective.

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