Cleaning a Fabric Softener Dispenser

A clothes washer's softener dispenser can develop a build up and become pretty gunky. This guide is about cleaning a fabric softener dispenser.
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September 23, 2014 Flag
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My washer has a fabric softener dispenser that does not come off. How do I clean it?

By jmy

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September 29, 20140 found this helpful
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Did you try pouring some white vinegar into it a few times? This may work. I swear by the stuff!

Terri

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June 23, 20161 found this helpful

I have a Sears top loading washing machine and the water softener despencer dose not release the water softener how do I take it apart to clean it

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July 31, 2016 Flag
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I have front load washer. My daughter and niece tried to help with laundry which I couldn't be mad about, however we have to use water softener here. They accidentally mixed water softener with fabric softener and it created a nasty mixture of goo. Now the washer won't do anything. There is no sound; it just starts to blink shortly after turning on. Is there anything I can do to get it running again? Thank you in advance.

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September 6, 20160 found this helpful

I have the same problem. Any suggestions of how to fix this.

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October 2, 2009 Flag
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I have a Bosch Nexxt Essence Front Loader. I have odor and mildew issues that I have "sort of" been able to control. My problem now is that, although I do not use softener in my washer, the dispenser is filled with water and I can't figure out how to drain it.

I am afraid it is going to get stagnant, hence yet another avenue for odor and mildew. Anyone know how I can drain it? There is nothing about it in the manual.

By nicksrobin from OH

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October 6, 20090 found this helpful
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Try some vinegar in the dispenser. This worked really great for me.

Good luck.

Lori

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November 5, 20090 found this helpful
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White vinegar "unclogged" my dispenser, although it took a few attempts.

Jennifer Norther Virginia

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October 3, 20090 found this helpful

With the machine unplugged can you feel around for a drain hole in the dispenser? Sometimes hard water deposits will build up. Just a guess.

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October 6, 20090 found this helpful

February 15, 2010 Flag
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How do I get rid of Downy buildup in the washing machine dispenser?

By Janet from Belt, MT

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February 15, 20100 found this helpful
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Vinegar. It will also clean out the soap residue in the washer and drain lines.

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October 2, 20130 found this helpful
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I have a 1993 Kenmore washing machine that started leaving spots on our clothes. I've never cleaned the fabric softener dispenser and when I took it off to inspect it, I found it was completely clogged with fabric softener. I tried rinsing with hot water, that didn't phase it, so I ran it through my dish washer (top shelf) twice and that got almost everything out. I used a tooth pick to get out the rest of what I could and now I'm going to run a load with white vinegar to get the rest out. From now on, it gets cleaned once a month.

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August 24, 20100 found this helpful

Try 'Goo Gone' to clean the waxy build-up. It worked really well for me.

I had the same problem with Cindy from Reading. PA. Tons of waxy build-up in the softener dispenser 'cos I didn't know how to remove the dispenser for cleaning before. Trying to clean the gunk with vinegar only worked marginally for me. What really worked for me was 'Goo Gone', it's great for removing crayon marks, lipstick, chewing gum on clothes, hair, etc. (I'm a Mom!) so I thought I'd give it a try, and Voila! It really works! It helped remove the stuff and then I washed off the Goo Gone with some regular dish detergent. The plastic parts in the washer all came out squeeky clean too! One note of advise, wear gloves for the job.

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January 29, 2014 Flag
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I have a washer and dryer I just purchased from a good friend. They're both very clean and don't have a lot of use. But the washer has a removable fabric softener "bowl" that fits in the middle of the agitator.

To make a long story short the bowl/cup that's removable had about 1/8th of a inch of softener buildup, along with the bottom of the agitator tower. Nothing seems to cut this stuff. It's like wheel bearing grease.

Help?

By Aaron

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February 8, 20140 found this helpful
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When I bought my new washer about 3 years ago I decided not to gunk it up with all those softener concoctions. I use white vinegar in both my wash cycle to replace bleach and I put it in the softener thingy in the middle of my agitator for the best softener ever.

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January 30, 20140 found this helpful

Mine was gooped up and gross too. I used a butter knife to scrape off the worst of it then wiped out the basket and machine with pieces of a dry towel until it was reasonably clean. Don't use a wet cloth to wipe because everything becomes slimy. I finished the cleaning job with an old toothbrush to get into the edges, again making sure that the brush was dry at all times. Every few months now I clean the reservoir and machine to prevent another accumulation like I had. Hope this works for you.

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December 28, 2010 Flag
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How to you clean a fabric softener dispenser in a 10 year old Whirlpool clothes washer?

By Linda

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December 29, 20100 found this helpful
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I have a Maytag too. When the service man came one time, I asked him how to remove the dispenser. It's simple, unscrew the top part of the dispenser (it does come off) and then just pull the actual dispenser straight up. It's really surprising how much gunk is hiding inside and down inside the agitator. Clean the dispenser in hot water. You may have to scrape the oily fabric softener residue off of the dispenser, but it will come clean! I used a long knife to scrape the inside of the agitator. After the worst was off, I cleaned it with a bottle brush. Good luck and have fun!

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December 29, 20100 found this helpful
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I have a 10 year old Maytag too. I take a bucket with lots of hot sudsy water, start pouring it quickly into the dispenser. Then take a wet washcloth and rub around the inside. Keep doing this a couple times THEN take a dry washrag which helps remove the final. You should clean this often, getting the gunk off. As you fill your washer with water before adding the clothes, this can be done, then it runs into the washer and just wash!

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January 31, 2015 Flag
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How do I remove the fabric softener dispenser to clean it? I'm afraid I may not get it back in correctly?

By Helen

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January 31, 20150 found this helpful

The fabric softener dispenser on what?

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February 15, 2010 Flag
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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

Answers:

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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April 8, 2008 Flag
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What can I use on my washing machine fabric softener dispenser to clean and clear it? I have a Kenmore about 10 years old.

Sue

Answers:

hot water

I found that my Kenmore fabric softener dispenser came off fairly easily. Once I got it off, I used hot, hot water and rinsed it OVER and OVER. You'd be amazed at all the gunk that came out! I then soaked it for awhile in very hot water. It eventually came out really clean and I put it back in the washer (with a vow to clean it more than once every 5 years!) Diane (12/01/2000)

By admin2

vinegar

I'd try white vinegar - that's a rinsing agent Sandy (12/01/2000)

By admin2

vinegar

Run a load with about 1/4 c. white vinegar in the dispenser. It will clean out any residue. BTW, white vinegar is a great fabric softener, and although the vinegar smells, your clothes won't. Karen (12/01/2000)

By admin2

Cleaning Fabric Softener Dispenser

And I thought I was the only one whose Kenmore fabric softener quit working! Right now I just filled it with white vinegar in the hopes that will clean it out. I had it off, ran hot water, over and over again, used a toothbrush on it, tried everything, but nothing worked. I did soak it with white vinegar, but maybe this'll do it while it's running. Thanks. (09/21/2004)

By Pat

Cleaning Fabric Softener Dispenser

I soaked mine in CLR and rinsed with a ton of water, eventually it came clean but I was hoping someone might know how to open the thing up to get at all the little crannies (08/12/2005)

By April

Cleaning Fabric Softener Dispenser

I don't have a Kenmore, Maytag (but I did this with my old Kenmore too), mix up the homemade fabric softener (see related links) it is baking soda and vinegar. The dispenser will always be CLEAN. I messed up, and sometimes I have a little baking soda residue because I was silly in mixing but rinses through very easily! I found powder detergent clogged in mine that my friend used! I use borax and liquid, never had a problem! (03/26/2006)

By camo_angels

Cleaning Fabric Softener Dispenser

I just bought a brand new Kenmore washing machine. After having an old machine for years (circa 1970's) it finally broke. I was very excited to finally have a fabric softener dispenser with the new machine. After a few weeks I realized the downside of having a dispenser, having to clean it. After cleaning it out twice I decided to buy a little plastic ball that dispenses softener(don't want to mention any names here) and its works great! Goodbye gunked up dispenser! Best of all the softener ball is cleanable and it only costs around $2.00 so if it gets to the point where I don't want to clean it, I throw it out. What I used to get my "old" dispenser clean was just taking it off of the agitator and cleaning it with running water and some pipe cleaners to get into the little spots. (04/23/2006)

By Mark

Cleaning Fabric Softener Dispenser

I took the dispenser off of the agitator and soaked it in Comet and hot water. I used a spoon to scrape the inside gunk. Then I took a toothbrush to it. I worked well. Now I need to know how to clean the top of the agitator that the dispenser fits on. It is filled with gunk also. I tried scraping it but I can't get my hand in it.

Any suggestions? (05/03/2006)

By KC

Cleaning Fabric Softener Dispenser

I have a Kenmore washer and had the same problem. I took off the dispenser, put it in the washing machine along with a load of old towels and washed. It is now totally clean (I used the delicate cycle) (02/11/2007)

By MSA guest

Cleaning Fabric Softener Dispenser

I purchased a used washer and found the dispenser clogged with years of buildup. I put boiling water through it along with white vinegar and heated it in the microwave. It took about an hour of repeating and shaking the solid wastes out of it. It is as clean as a whistle now. (01/13/2008)

By Renee

Cleaning Fabric Softener Dispenser

I placed mine in a Pyrex dish, filled the dispenser with white vinegar and filled the Pyrex up half way with vinegar and water mix (the key was to fill above business end of the dispenser). Then microwaved in 2 minute intervals. I scrubbed and used the top of a baster to CAREFULLY force air/mixture through it in between heating intervals. Don't be afraid to be creative. For my 8 yr old Kenmore, the replacement part is less than $10 if you should break it. (b)(/b) (01/26/2008)

By Noel

Cleaning Fabric Softener Dispenser

I used hot water and a toothpick to scrape out all the gunk. I'm going to try the vinegar to get to the spots I couldn't pick out. (03/18/2008)

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December 28, 2010 Flag
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How do I disassemble the fabric softener cup on a 10 year old Kenmore washing machine? It needs cleaning out.

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August 31, 2010 Flag
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I have a Kenmore washing machine, and the fabric dispenser is either clogged or broken. Does anyone know how to clean these. I can't get the fabric softener out of the dispenser.

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