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Never use liquid fabric softener in your clothes washer! By doing so, you will cause yourself more service calls (repair costs!), and ultimately lessen the life expectancy of your washer.
Fabric softener coats and clogs the hoses (and other parts, depending on the type of washer you have). I am not a repairman, but spent many years working for a major retailer supervising a customer service group specializing in major appliance "issues". I worked closely with senior technical assist repair personnel with 20 plus years field experience that passed on several "words of wisdom" to me.
I remember the day I asked this one extremely experienced tech "Well, if liquid fabric softener shouldn't be used in clothes washers, then why are special compartments made ON some washers specifically FOR fabric softener?" (Thinking I had him!). He responded with a grin on his face "Because that is what consumers want on their washers for "convenience". In turn, manufacturers give consumers want, they want, not necessarily what they need (or in this case DON'T need)." Oh, I get it now, we, as consumers, are to blame for our own desire for conveniences.
In response to the folks out there with musty towels. We've tried a lot of approaches and only one actually worked. The first thing we did was get rid of the liquid fabric softener. We then cleaned the washing machine by brush, using bleach and water.
We found that by running through 2 full hot water loads using only oxy clean and white vinegar (2 cups) that the machine smelled much better. We then washed our clothes using a mixture of oxy clean and borax with the white vinegar in the rinse dispenser. Works like a charm. The culprit is the Downey type products. They are not good for the machine, the pipes or the clothes. You must try this, if you want to end the problem, for once and for all. Good Luck
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I have been using dryer sheets to soften my clothes in the dryer for a while now. Recently, I found a deal on liquid fabric softener that I couldn't pass up (free!), and am wondering if anyone has tips on using liquid softener in a machine without an automatic dispenser. I know one company sells a ball to use, but I don't know whether that works or if it's even worth the expense. I really appreciate any ideas! Thanks!
For Amy who was given liquid fabric softener. I, too, was given a free gallon. I've read that you can pour a tablespoon or two onto an old washcloth or rag or something and toss into the dryer with your wet clothes. Since our water is naturally soft, I only use fabric softener with my husband's socks to cut down on the static cling. I have an old, holey potholder that I pour the fabric softener onto. Works well.
If you don't get the answer you want; here's an idea. Wet a wash cloth with the fabric softener and throw it in the dryer with the laundry that needs to be dryed.
Kathy, Shari and Jaycee
I have used the Downy ball for fabric softener in my machine for years and it works great! You don't have to worry about putting the fabric softener during the rinse cycle, you just put it in with the detergent and go on with your other chores! I'd say it's definitely worth the minor expense!
Jen - Denton, MD
I use the fabric softener ball, and it works very well. It does open when it is in the rinse cycle. I got the fabric softener ball free, because I contacted the company and they sent me a coupon.
Carol, Hobbs, NM
One good way to use liquid fabric softener frugally is to dilute 2 or 3 caps full with ~3 or 4 cups of water in a covered plastic container. Place regular kitchen sponges cut in half in the container. When you are ready to put a load in the dryer, squeeze the sponge almost dry and throw in the dryer as you would a fabric softener sheet. This does the same as a fabric softener sheet and makes your liquid softener go a long, long way. Put the sponge back in the bucket when the clothes are dry for the next use.
Shellie and Cheryl Fox
The ball made for liquid softener works great unless your doing a second rinse on a load, then it must go in after the first rinse so it doesn't get rinsed out. I have used liquid in the dryer by just pouring a small amount on a clean dry washcloth, scrunching it up to make sure there are no drippies, and throwing it in the dryer with the wet load. The washcloth can be used up to 2 times before more softener is needed and can occasionally be laundered so it doesn't get crunchy :-)
KC - Austin, TX
The Downey ball fabric softener dispenser works pretty well. I like to dilute the softener a little. It still gives good results without "oversoftening".
Diane - Milledgeville, GA
I use liquid softener diluted with water in a spray dispenser, spray into dryer on wet clothes and this works great and I no longer buy dryer sheets! Which it seems like I was always doing!
TA in Colorado
Back when I used liquid fabric softener, I would pour a very small amount on an old piece of cloth and toss it into the dryer with the wet clothes. A bottle lasts forever. I no longer use fabric softener except when I am drying a piece of clothing that produces a lot of static; then I tear a piece off the sheet and add it to the dryer load. I read, a long time ago, that softener leaves a film on clothes (no surprise there, that's what stops the static) and they no longer absorb as well. I use Tide (less than recommended) and my clothes smell very good; that' all I need.
Due to allergies that I have with the fabric dryer sheets, I buy liquid fabric softener for my dryer. I put about a half-cup of softener in a spray bottle and put in about a half-cup of water. As long as a ratio of 1:1 is used you can fill your bottle with as much softener and water as needed. I shake the bottle to distribute the contents and using an old washcloth, I spray it with about five spritzes and toss it into the dryer with the clothes. I do this every time I use the dryer. When the "dryer sheet" gets too saturated, I throw it into the washer to wash it.
I just read yesterday on another ezine that a reader had suggested watering down your regular fabric softener and put into a spray bottle. Before starting the dryer, spray a few sprays on a coffee filter. Then just throw it in. She says that one bottle of softener has lasted more than a year. I have not tried this idea, but intend to. I use the automatic ball and sometimes when I open the washer there is still quite a bit of softener left in the ball. Makes me really wonder what happens in the washer!
Lynn - Danbury, CT
I'm sorry that I can not offer an answer but I had the SAME question....I got a free sample myself and now I guess that makes two of us who don't know what to do with the liquid fabric softener since we do not have a dispenser!
Editor's Note: Add it when the washer starts it's rinse cycle. When it is filling with the rinse water, add the fabric softener. It might be best to dilute it with water so that you make sure you don't stain the clothes.
Remember not to ever use liquid fabric softener (like in the washer) on towels. It coats the fibers and the towels shed water rather than absorb it!
I didn't believe it myself until a friend forced me to try this experiment: Take 2 identical towels or washclothes, boil them for an hour on the stove, in vineger water (1:1) for about an hour, changing the water several times. Then wash them, one in a load with fabric softener and one in a load without. You will be amazed at the difference!
Also, if you want super soft towels, the secret is to get everything out of them, in other words, rinse them twice with warm or hot water. My washer doesn't let me rinse in hot water so for my guest room towels I run the load through another entire cycle on sanitary.
Yes, remember many years ago they didn't have fabric softener dispensers. All they would do is add a capful of liquid fabric softener during the start of the rinse cycle. No problem. You're adding it to the water solution not directly to your fabrics.
Liquid fabric softener may be contributing to problems in the front loading washing machines becuase it may contribute to a build up that leads to mold and mildew growing in the machine.
There is a huge string of posts under "stinky towels?" where we are trying to get to the bottom of this, so I would suggest finding some other way to use the liquid fabric softener! It may not be good for your machine
I just learned of a tip from another site that works great! I dilute Suavitel fabric softener because it is so powerful. Then keep an old tupperware style container with some of this diluted fabric softener. Cut 1 or 2 sponges in half and let them sit in the softener. When using the dryer, just squeeze out the sponge and throw it into the dryer load. Afterward, it goes right back into the tupperware container. This works great plus a bottle of fabric softener goes a very long way.
I also use the Downy Ball and it works just great! I would recommend it!
I use vinegar in my final rinse when I do my laundry because I've found that my towels don't have so much lint, but I love the smell and softness of fabric conditioner. I was wondering if I could mix the vinegar with the fabric conditioner to get the best of both worlds, so to speak. Vinegar is great to prevent lint, but my laundry is much softer and smells much better with fabric conditioner. I don't want to use essential oils. They are very expensive here in Malta which makes them very uneconomical. Any suggestions or ideas please?
Cettina from Malta, Europe
I use dryer sheets instead of liquid. Or you can put some liquid on another cloth and dry it with your laundry and get the smell and static control that way.
You can cut your fabric softener liquid so that it's up to half to two-thirds vinegar, and get the best of both worlds. You might be able to mix even more vinegar in, but I haven't tried more than about two-thirds myself. It works pretty well, especially for things like towels.
Give it a try - you can always rewash if you don't like the outcome.
When using fabric softener, is it best to use only on the rinse cycle? Can the fabric softener be added at the same time as the laundry soap? Thank you.
By theresa from Phoenix, AZ
In using wash cloths as dryer sheets, how do you prevent lint from getting on clothes that are drying?
One alternative to buying fabric softener sheets is using diluted liquid softener sprayed on a cloth or piece of interfacing that is added to the clothing in your dryer. This is a page about using liquid fabric softener instead of dryer sheets.