When & How To Add Fabric Softener If There’s No Dispenser Drawer

The majority of modern washing machines, both front loaders and top loaders have a dispenser drawer for dispensing detergent and fabric softener as and when required automatically. This ensures that the detergent and fabric softener do the job they were designed to do.

The symbol for fabric softener on the dispenser is usually either a flower or a star icon.

Some appliances however, don’t have dispenser drawers and if yours is one of those without a dispenser for fabric conditioner, keep reading.

In this article we look at when and how to add fabric softener to the washer as well as alternative ways to add fabric softener without having to wait around for the wash cycle to end.

When Should Fabric Softener Be Added To The Wash If There’s No Dispenser?

The most important takeaway from this entire article is that fabric softener has to be added at the correct time to do any good. You see, washers with a dispenser drawer automatically dispense the detergent and fabric softener at exactly the right time in the cycle to be the most effective.

This is important as adding fabric softener too soon or too late can cause problems with the wash load.

What Happens If Fabric Softener Is Added Too Soon?

If fabric softener is added at the beginning of the wash cycle, or even at any point before the wash cycle has finished, the softener will just get washed away. This is a waste of fabric softener as it will not have any effect on the laundry at all.

The fabric softener is designed to soak into the laundry, softening the fabric and helping to prevent wrinkles and static cling. If it’s added too soon, you might just as well have poured it straight down the drain.

What Happens If Fabric Softener Is Added Too Late?

If the fabric softener is added after the rinse cycle, it will still be on your laundry. It’s not designed to be left on the fabrics in much the same way as hair conditioner is designed to be rinsed off.

If the softener remains on the fabric it will leave a waxy, oily residue behind which can cause stains and also allergic reactions to those with sensitive skin.

How To Manually Add Fabric Softener At The Correct Time

Washing Machine

The secret to adding the fabric softener at the correct time is all about watching and waiting. This means you’ll need to sit with your washer and wait until the wash cycle has finished.

You then need to add the fabric softener before the rinse cycle starts. So, that’s as soon as the wash cycle has finished, but before the rinse cycle starts. This might seem difficult but most washing machines have display screens that let you know what’s going on with the cycle.

Your machine should show various symbols for different stages in the cycle. Check your user manual or search online for the correct symbols used on your appliance.

The most common symbol for the rinse cycle is a bucket (or basin, tub) with either a jet of water or the bucket will have a few dots inside. You could use timings to determine which stage in the cycle your machine is at.

You will need to know exactly which cycle you have selected as every programme and cycle has a different time rate for the various stages.

Where To Put Fabric Softener If There’s Not A Dispenser?

Now we know when to add fabric softener, let’s look at where to add it. Almost all front loaders have a detergent dispenser drawer nowadays, so the fabric softener can be poured into the dispenser drawer at the correct time.

However, top loaders are designed differently, and this will require a different approach. If your top loader doesn’t have a dispenser for fabric softener, you will need to open the lid and pour the correct amount of fabric softener directly into the tub.

Take care to ensure that the fabric softener is poured into the water and not directly onto the clothes as neat fabric softener could cause staining. By pouring it into the water, the fabric softener gets mixed with the water which serves 2 purposes;

  1. The fabric softener gets diluted
    Once the fabric softener hits the water and the machine starts agitating, the softener becomes less concentrated and is less likely to stain any fabrics.
  2. The fabric softener gains access to the whole wash load
    The water carries the fabric softener to all of the items in the drum as it spins. This ensures that all of the items get equally covered in softener.

Are There Any Alternatives To Fabric Softeners?

Alternatives To Fabric Softeners

In all honesty, it’s not that difficult to add fabric softener to the washer even if you don’t have a dispenser drawer. However, it is time consuming because you literally have to sit and wait for the correct moment to add the softener.

For most of us, that’s time that could be better spent elsewhere. So you’ll be pleased to know there are alternatives to fabric softener which don’t require you to become a washing machine watcher.

All In One Pods

These convenient pods contain detergent and fabric softener and are added to the drum before the washing machine is started. Simply load the laundry into the machine, add an all in one pod, close the door and select the cycle.

The detergent gets released at the right time and then after the wash cycle has completed, the fabric softener is then released.

Fabric Softener Dispenser Ball

Downy Ball, Fabic Softener Dispenser (Pack of 3),Blue,22.86 x 22.86 x 7.62 cm; 226.8 Grams
  • Using the Downy Ball fabric softener dispenser is a great way to get results from your fabric softener while simplifying your laundry routine.
  • It's softness made simple!

These dispenser balls are reusable and easy to use. All you do is add the correct amount of fabric softener to the ball, pull the ring to close the lid and add it to the drum of the machine before selecting the wash cycle.

It will dispense the softener at the correct point in the cycle leaving the dispenser empty and ready to reuse with your next wash load.

Laundry Eggs

Ecoegg Laundry Egg | Detergent and Fabric Conditioner Replacement | Non bio and no enzymes, phosphates, palm oil, chlorine bleach | Sensitive Skin | Fragrance Free 70 Washes
  • 🧺 MAKE LAUNDRY A BREEZE: Simply pop an ecoegg Laundry Egg on top of the clothes in the drum. The Laundry Egg is designed to last for up to 70 Washes and after that, simply refill with Laundry Egg fragrance refill of your choice.
  • 🤔 HOW DOES IT WORK? Using two types of mineral pellets plus a small amount of detergent encased in a refillable egg, the ecoegg Laundry Egg provides brilliant cleaning for light and dark washes every time!

The ecoegg laundry egg is placed on top of the laundry in the drum where it then releases detergent and fabric softener at the correct time. It lasts for up to 70 washes which makes it a good alternative to using detergent and fabric softener and you don’t need to watch the machine to ensure the softener gets added at the correct time.

It’s also environmentally friendly as it eliminates the need for separate detergents and fabric softeners and all of the plastic packaging involved with carrying those liquids. 

Depending on where you buy it from, the ecoegg costs around 15p per wash. Plus you can refill the ecoegg once fully used up with the 2 types of pellets which then works out to around 10p per wash.

This product is also great for those with sensitive skin as it is hypoallergenic and contains no enzymes.

Wool Dryer Balls

Nooril Tumble Dryer Balls Pack of 4 - Handmade Reusable Organic Wool Laundry Balls for Fabric Softening, Reduce Drying Time, Noise, Static-Cling & Wrinkles with No Bad Odor…
  • Prime Built: 40g 7cm extra-large handmade laundry dryer balls spun tightly for extra rounds of drying
  • Retain New Look: Wool dryer balls leave no fluff on clothes and instill a natural refreshing scent

Instead of using a fabric softener in the washing machine, you could use these wool dryer balls in the tumble dryer. They work by bouncing around the drum of the tumble dryer fluffing up the fabrics as they travel around the drum.

They are eco friendly and can be reused many times and if you miss the fragrance provided by your current fabric softener, these wool balls instill a natural scent.

They also seriously reduce any static cling and don’t make a lot of noise in the drum either.

Plastic Dryer Balls

Ecozone Dryer Cubes, Tumble Dryer Balls - new softer material with variable node design. Pack of 2
  • Set of 2 EcoZone Dryer Cubes: Eco-friendly re-usable tumble dryer balls effectively shorten tumble drying time and save electricity on every cycle; Smooths out creases and wrinkles for easy ironing!
  • Faster drying and energy saving: Cleverly lifts and separate your laundry, whilst relaxing the fibres of the clothing,reducing the need for fabric conditioner; Safe to use daily in your machine

These plastic dryer balls work in a similar way to the wool dryer balls and are also reusable time after time. The manufacturers claim that as these balls relax the fibres of the laundry, they reduce drying times.

This of course helps to save energy and money on energy bills. They are approved by PETA and Allergy UK. Which means they have not been tested on animals and are safe for sensitive skin too.

Tennis Balls

Instead of buying wool dryer balls or plastic dryer balls, you can use clean tennis balls in the tumble dryer to soften your laundry. The tennis balls bounce around the drum softening the fabric as they travel around the drum.

Tennis balls also help to reduce static cling and speed up drying times due to allowing hot air to pass through the clothes. However, as tennis balls are so bouncy, you will need to check that your dryer is able to withstand the force of the balls as they bounce around the drum.

SEE ALSO: Where Do I Put Fabric Softener In Front Loader Washing Machines?

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you manually add fabric softener?

To manually add fabric softener to your washer if you don’t have a fabric softener dispenser, you should add the softener at the end of the wash cycle but before the rinse cycle starts. Pour the softener directly into the detergent dispenser prior to the rinse cycle starting. If you own a top loader, you should pour the softener directly into the water and not onto the laundry to prevent possible staining.

At what point does fabric softener get dispensed?

In automatic washing machines, the fabric softener gets dispersed right at the start of the rinse cycle. Which is directly after the wash cycle has ended.

Can you add fabric softener directly to laundry?

You should never add fabric softener directly on to laundry; it should always be added to the water in the drum. This is because fabric softener could potentially stain the fabric if neat softener remains on the fabric.

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