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3 common fabric softener issues solved

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From fabric softener not dispensing or not draining to a blocked washing machine's detergent drawer or one filled with water, we take a look at the most common washing machine issues with fabric softener and the quick fixes that will solve them in simple steps.

Fabric softener issue 1: fabric softener not dispensing

Have you just finished a wash, only to find that the drawer is still filled with fabric softener? The fabric softener drawer not emptying is a common problem and usually easy to solve. Follow these simple steps to find the cause and fix it:

  1. Is the fabric softener drawer blocked?
    Locate your washing machine manual and look up how to remove the fabric softener drawer. Clean and rinse it thoroughly with warm water and use a small pipe cleaner to clean the little tube that dispenses the fabric softener from the drawer. Regardless of whether this was the reason for the fabric softener not draining, it's a good idea to do this every now and again to keep your machine clean and working well.
  2. Are the water injectors in the fabric softener drawer blocked?
    Next, check whether the small jets that inject water into the fabric softener drawer (located directly above it) are blocked. If you are living in a hard-water area, you may have to treat them with a limescale cleaner to unblock them, then scrub off any residue with a sponge or brush.
  3. Are you washing on a cycle that uses fabric softener?
    There is a possibility that the fabric softener simply stayed in the drawer because you set your washing machine to a cycle that doesn't use fabric softener. Check the manual and repeat the wash on a different setting if needed.
  4. Run a hot wash to clean your machine
    To prevent a blocked fabric softener drawer, run the machine on its hottest setting every now and again and add distilled cleaning vinegar to the detergent and fabric softener drawers to clean them through properly.

Fabric softener issue 2: fabric softener drains immediately

If the fabric softener drains immediately, as soon as you switch on the washing machine, you are basically wasting the product. You will still get some benefit from the fabric softener, but as it is added too early in the cycle, a large part of the liquid will be rinsed off again. The good thing is that you noticed and can do something about it. Here's how:

  1. Is there too much fabric softener in the dispenser?
    If you overfill the drawer, the fabric softener drains immediately. Make sure you only fill the dispenser to the maximum level (usually indicated with a line and the letters MAX). If you are still having the same issue, perhaps the siphon sensor is not at the indicated level, so try filling it even less, staying well below the line.
  2. Are you shutting the fabric softener drawer too quickly and forcefully?
    The fabric softener drains immediately for the same reasons when you shut the door with too much momentum. The fabric softener sloshing about in the dispenser can set off the siphon, immediately draining the drawer.

Fabric softener issue 3: fabric softener tray full of water

If the fabric softener tray is full of water after you have completed a wash, it may be a similar issue to the one described above – or an entirely different one. Find out below.

  1. Is the fabric softener drawer blocked?
    It may seem unlikely that the fabric softener would be dispensed, but not the water that rinses through after it, but it's worth cleaning the drawer as described above, as this would be the easiest fix.
  2. Is your washing machine level?
    If your washing machine is not level, this could cause a water runoff problem, leaving you with a fabric softener tray full of water. Use a level (or download a water level app) to establish whether the front and back, as well as the left to right side of your machine, are level. If you can see that one side is out of balance, fix it immediately. A washing machine not being level can cause all manner of other issues and could lead to costly repairs. Don't be put off by the repair – it's actually quite simple to adjust the feet by screwing them up or down. Check your washing machine manual to find out how it's done.
Fabric softener issues – solved!

Now that you've hopefully fixed your washing machine problems, enjoy your fresh, clean and soft laundry!

Having issues with your washing machine? Fabric softener troubleshooter to the rescue! Follow our simple step-by-step repair guide to get your machine spinning again.

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