Detergent In Fabric Softener Dispenser

Detergent in the Fabric Softener Dispenser | Should I Panic?

A mountain of dirty clothes, a distracted mind, and a few screaming kids… next thing you realize you accidentally put laundry detergent in the fabric dispenser. Arghh!

I’ve been there multiple times in the past! Switching to laundry detergent sheets (as opposed to liquid) has helped me to avoid such mistake.

Said that the good news is there is no need to panic! While it shouldn’t be a daily habit, putting detergent in the fabric softener dispenser is no reason for losing your sleep.

It’s not a laundry crime, and it’s an acceptable mistake! However, you shouldn’t put detergent in the fabric softener dispenser. The whole cycle can go on without your clothes being washed. Your clothes will have to be rewashed.

This means longer laundry. *Dramatically slides down the door, crying*

How Does a Fabric Softener Dispenser Work?

The fabric softener dispenser is a convenient compartment to add our conditioner without it going directly on our clothes. If you have a top-loading washing machine, this dispenser is found in a cup in the center of the agitator.

You must fill this dispenser with the correct amount of fabric softener and then add water until you reach the fill line. Add your laundry and select your wash cycle. The fabric softener will be released at the right time after your clothes are washed.

If you have a front-loading machine, the compartments for detergent, bleach, and fabric softener are located at the top. The mistake with filling your fabric softener dispenser with detergent usually happens with a front-loading machine.

What Happens if I Put Detergent in Fabric Softener Dispenser?

Woman Is Surprised Sitting Next To The Laundry

If you put detergent in the fabric softener dispenser, you basically swop around your cycles. Your machine will only wash the clothes at the end, because the fabric dispenser only releases the liquid at the last rinse cycle.

While this doesn’t damage your clothes, you will have to rewash that load. Since the detergent was only released at the very end of the cycle, it did not wash the clothes and rinse the detergent out.

If laundry detergent is left on your clothes, this can affect how they look. If you do not rewash them, they can look full and murky when they dry. You may even see chalky, white spots or marks, especially if you use washing powder.

Since your machine didn’t have the time to rinse the detergent off, it can also cause a residue, making them prone to dust and pet hair. If left, the residue can become really hard to wash away. It can also affect our skin, causing an annoying rash.

So it’s very important to rewash that laundry load if you made this mistake!

Will It Affect My Washing Machine?

If you keep making this mistake, it can affect your washing machine.

Extra detergent in your washing machine can weaken its parts until it just breaks down. The detergent can build up in the parts of the machine, which becomes the perfect place for the growth of bacteria and mold. Over time, you’d notice a funky smell coming from the machine.

Since the machine has to overwork to rinse the detergent off your clothes, the strain on the motor can cause it to make weird noises and malfunction. The build-up of suds can also block the drainage pipe, which is yet another reason for funky odors.

If you notice these signs, then you can add half a cup of vinegar to the detergent compartment and let your machine go on a short cycle. This will flush the drainage pipes, which will wash away any extra suds and detergent.

Woman Is Turning On A Washing Machine

Is Fabric Softener a Good Alternative to Detergent?

Unfortunately, nope!

Fabric softener is no laundry detergent as it does not have the same ingredients or cleaning abilities. Fabric conditioner – much like hair conditioner – was not designed to clean our clothes, just to soften them up and add a nice fragrance to them. If your clothes are super dirty or have stains, fabric softener is not your friend!

In fact, it can make those worse.

If your clothes seem clean after a wash with a fabric conditioner, then you may be greeted with an overbearing smell, especially if you used a scented fabric softener. This is not good for those who have sensitive skin. You can remove the strong smell of fabric softener with an overnight soak or vinegar wash.

While fabric softeners shouldn’t be used as a detergent and, in general, should be avoided, there are exceptions where the benefits of using eco-friendly fabric softeners outweigh the negatives. Eco-friendly softener is your best bet if you want your clothes free of static with no scents and harmful ingredients!

Can I Combine Fabric Softener with Detergent?

Well, yes, but this doesn’t make any difference. The fabric softener will rinse out too quick so it won’t have enough time to do its purpose. You would have just wasted a cup!

Anyway, fabric softeners are not the safest step in our laundry processes. They contain a substance called Quaternary Ammonium Compounds, known as “quats,” which reduce static but can cause skin and even breathing problems. This compound can also harm our aquatic systems.

Frequently Asked Questions


Can I put detergent in the bleach dispenser?

No, but nothing would happen if you do. However, you may have to run an additional rinse cycle to wash out the detergent.