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Cleaning Fabric Softener Dispenser

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How do I get rid of Downy buildup in the washing machine dispenser?

By Janet from Belt, MT


Recent Answers

Here are the recent answer to this question.

By sherrifmoore10/02/2013

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.

By Jo08/24/2010

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.

By Cajun [55]02/15/2010

Vinegar. It will also clean out the soap residue in the washer and drain lines.


Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

Archive: Cleaning Fabric Softener Dispenser

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


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


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

By admin2


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

RE: 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

RE: 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

RE: 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

RE: 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

RE: 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)


RE: 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

RE: 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

RE: 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

RE: 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)


Archive: Cleaning Fabric Softener Dispenser

I just discovered that you are supposed to clean out that fabric softener dispenser in your washing machine. e washing machine used a few years ago, so who knows how old this junk is!


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