Fabric softener should always be added during the rinse cycle—never directly on your clothes. Many washing machines have a special compartment for fabric softener, but if not, you can add it manually during the rinse cycle.
Using fabric softener (also called fabric conditioner) is the ultimate hack to make your clothes feel soft as a cloud, smell sexy, and stay static-free. But that all depends on using this not-so-secret sauce the right way.
If you were thinking about pouring fabric softener directly onto your load of laundry, think again. It’s essential to only add it during the rinse cycle. Here’s why:
- Even Distribution: Fabric softeners work best when they come into direct contact with the fabric. If you add it during the wash cycle along with your detergent, it might get washed away before it can coat your clothes.
- Reduced Residue: If you add fabric softener during the wash cycle, it could potentially leave a residue on your clothes, making them feel sticky. Adding it during the rinse cycle allows it to be diluted more effectively, reducing the risk of residue buildup.
- Longer Contact Time: During the rinse cycle, the washing machine agitates the clothes and water, ensuring that the fabric softener is mixed thoroughly and has more time to work its magic.
- Less Interference with Detergent: Fabric softeners are designed to complement your detergent, not interfere with it. Using them in separate cycles ensures your clothes get as clean and as soft as possible.
Alright, now that you know how fabric softener works, let’s cover how to use it.
How to Use Fabric Softener
The process for using liquid fabric softener is slightly different depending on what type of washing machine you have. Regardless, fabric softener always needs to be dispensed during the rinse cycle.
Look for a small compartment on your washing machine that says “fabric softener.” It could also be marked with the number 3, III, a flower, or a star symbol.
Here are a few handy guides for the main types of washing machines.
Front Loading Washer
Here’s how to use fabric softener for a front-load washer:
- Use the cap on your container to measure the correct amount of fabric softener, depending on the size of your laundry load.
- Pour the liquid into the fabric softener dispenser tray on your washing machine (this is a smaller tray than the one you put your laundry detergent in).
- Run your normal wash cycle.
Top Loading Washer
If you’ve got a top-load washer, here’s how to use fabric softener:
- Use the cap to measure the recommended amount of fabric softener.
- Pour the fabric softener into the central column of your washer (there should be a label).
- Add your laundry detergent into the drum and run your wash cycle.
Without a Dispenser
No automatic dispenser? No worries—you can still use fabric softener.
- Start a normal wash cycle.
- Measure out the proper amount of fabric softener.
- Add the fabric softener when the washer drum is full of water during the rinse cycle. (Don’t pour it directly onto clothes, as this will prevent it from being diluted and dispersed properly and may also cause staining).
Should You Use a Dryer Sheet If You Use Fabric Softener?
If you’re using fabric softener, dryer sheets are optional from a functional standpoint. That’s because they’re both designed to reduce static cling and make your clothes feel softer.
However, if you want your clothes to smell as awesome as possible, it won’t hurt to add a dryer sheet. The fragrances from laundry detergent and fabric softener can wear off as your clothes dry, but dryer sheets deposit their heat-activated fragrances throughout the dry cycle for a longer-lasting scent.
Avoid Fabric Softener with These Types of Fabric
Fabric softener works magic on natural fibers like cotton, so you might be tempted to use it in every load of laundry. However, the conditioners in fabric softener aren’t intended for these five materials.
When in doubt, always read the care label on your items before you run a cycle with fabric softener.
1. Moisture-Wicking Clothes
Fabric softener contains lubricants that can reduce the absorbency and elasticity of spandex, lycra, and other moisture-wicking materials. That includes workout clothes as well as swimwear.
2. Microfiber Towels
Microfiber towels are designed to soak up liquid, but the lubricants in fabric softener can create a coating on the surface that reduces its absorbency.
3. Waterproof Clothes
Outdoor gear like raincoats and jackets with water-repellent fabrics could lose their water-resistant properties if you wash them with fabric softener.
4. Flame-Resistant Clothes
Fabric softener may coat the fibers of flame-resistant fabrics, reducing their effectiveness. This is especially important to keep in mind if you’re washing baby clothes or sheets, which are often flame-resistant.
The conditioners in fabric softener may cause wool to lose its texture and warmth. If you’re looking for extra fluff, use wool dryer balls instead.
Linen gets its loose, airy texture from tiny spaces between the fibers, but if the coating from fabric softener fills those spaces it can compromise its breathable feel.
Does Your Fabric Softener Smell This Sexy?
Take a stroll down your local laundry aisle and you’ll find fabric softener that smells like “spring breeze” or “super fresh” (whatever that means). You and your clothes deserve better. That’s why we made our Performance Laundry Fabric Softener to make your clothes smell as luxurious as they feel.
We collabed with the world’s top perfumers to develop four irresistible scents:
On top of enhancing softness, reducing wrinkles, and preserving the integrity of your clothes, this stuff turns laundry day into a sensory escape. Stop settling and start saucing.