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Cleaning Fabric Softener Dispenser

I just discovered that you are supposed to clean out that fabric softener dispenser in your washing machine. When I pulled out the cup, which was coated in blue thick gunk, underneath it was a nasty black, thick junk.

I purchased the washing machine used a few years ago, so who knows how old this junk is. What is it? Is it mold and mildew? I am freaking out about it. I cleaned the dispenser out and then the middle came out so I cleaned it out as well, but I am haunted by what the heck all that waxy black stuff was, so I need to know if it is just softener build up with dirt or mold? Help.

Cindy from Reading, PA


Cleaning Fabric Softener Dispenser

Of course, I can't say for sure because I haven't seen it. I think, based on what the gunk in mine looked like, that all it is is the build up from the fabric softener and some soap or dirt residue from the wash water. I use the same Downy bottle for years, refilling from the cardboard container, and if I don't wash the top off periodically, I get that bluish/grey build up on that as well. I doubt very much that it is mold or mildew. Just old fabric softener. (04/10/2008)

By louel53

Cleaning Fabric Softener Dispenser

I have a Kenmore HE.
After adding the fabric softener to the dispenser I always fill to the top with water. No more gunk. (05/16/2008)

By ajs

Cleaning Fabric Softener Dispenser

Models will vary, but here's what made the difference in my cleaning process. Like others, I removed the unit from the machine, and started cleaning with hot water, a brush, and toothpicks. Then I moved on to white vinegar. Filling the reservoir with vinegar was marginally effective. Figuring most of the problem was below the reservoir, I flipped the unit over and added vinegar to the bottom of the unit, where the reservoir attaches to the base. Then I just let it sit for a couple of hours. After that, I turned it right side up again and ran hot water into the top. Gunk flew out. A thorough rinse, and the dispenser was back in business. (07/06/2008)

By Kathryn

Cleaning Fabric Softener Dispenser

The softener was not draining out out of the dispenser on the top of the agitator. We ran very hot water down the cup of the agitator. The buildup was amazing. (The instruction for the machine says do not put detergent in with the softener. They are incompatible. A little detergent I am sure gets down the agitator cup from time to time.)

After getting a lot of that gunk, which felt like gum, on my hands, I tried alcohol to break down the sticky stuff. We tried that on the dispenser as well and if seemed to work in there as well. So we alternated hot water and shaking out the gunk with pouring a a little alcohol in the cup. That seemed to move things along. I also used the alcohol to clean the sink afterward.

The hot water did not "melt" the gunk in the sink, but the alcohol readily broke it down so it could be wiped up with a paper towel. I am sure that that gunk probably was not good to send down the disposal and the pipes. Not to mention the filters for the septic tank.

When I washed my hands with (I think Dawn) dish soap it also seemed to break down the gunk on my hands right away. But we did not try the soap in the dispenser. It might be worth a try. (07/24/2008)

By Judy

Cleaning Fabric Softener Dispenser

This may sound a bit obvious, but the answer may be as simple as using the fabric softener ball that holds the liquid until the agitation cycle. I grew up using one of these, and never had any problems with my clothes getting spotted, and certainly not with the machine getting "gunky". I know it would be nice not to have to hassle with it, but the built-in dispensers do seem to get gunky pretty quickly. The question is: Which is better? Cleaning the machine every month, or using the Downy Ball every time and never having to worry with cleaning your machine. Just a suggestion. (01/02/2009)

By Blake

Cleaning Fabric Softener Dispenser

Best way is to blow out the gunk with compressed air. Blow from bottom and top until water releases. (07/04/2009)

By piehead

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