A clothes washer's softener dispenser can develop a build up and become pretty gunky. This guide is about cleaning a fabric softener dispenser.
How do I remove the fabric softener dispenser to clean it? I'm afraid I may not get it back in correctly?
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.
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.
My washer has a fabric softener dispenser that does not come off. How do I clean it?
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
White vinegar "unclogged" my dispenser, although it took a few attempts.
Jennifer Norther Virginia
How do I get rid of Downy buildup in the washing machine dispenser?
By Janet from Belt, MT
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.
How to you clean a fabric softener dispenser in a 10 year old Whirlpool clothes washer?
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!
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
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Best way is to blow out the gunk with compressed air. Blow from bottom and top until water releases. (07/04/2009)
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)
I'd try white vinegar - that's a rinsing agent Sandy (12/01/2000)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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
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)
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)
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)
How do I disassemble the fabric softener cup on a 10 year old Kenmore washing machine? It needs cleaning out.
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.