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How To Get Fabric Softener Stains Out Of Clothes

Have you ever noticed greasy or oily-looking stains on your clothing when you pulled them out of the washing machine that weren’t there before? If you use fabric softener, then that’s likely the cause. Sometimes the stains can be really noticeable as well. But don’t worry, I’ll explain what’s causing them and how to get fabric softener stains out of clothes in this article,

Fabric softener can leave a stain behind on clothes either due to using too much, using it the wrong way, or a buildup of residue in your washing machine. If the stains are still wet, you can remove them by pre-treating them with vinegar, bar soap, dish soap, or laundry detergent. Fabric softener stains that have dried will be harder to remove.

As long as you treat the stain as soon as you notice it, you should be able to get it out. I’ll explain how to treat fabric softener stains in several different ways and how to prevent the stains from happening again.

How To Get Fabric Softener Stains Out Of Clothes

Does Fabric Softener Stain Clothes?

The whole purpose of fabric softener is to coat the fibers and make them feel softer. To do this, it contains oils and lubricating agents that help to lubricate the fibers. But, those ingredients are also what can leave behind the stain on your clothes.

Fabric softener is more likely to stain either if you use too much or add it to the wrong place or at the wrong time in the washing machine. It has to mix with the water so that it can be diluted to work properly, and if too much is used or it isn’t released at the right time, then the chances are higher that all of it won’t get rinsed out of the clothing.

Sometimes, the stains can be caused due to a buildup of fabric softener residue in the dispenser. It still stains clothing the same way, though, as the greasy buildup can get on your clothing and not get washed away properly.

If fabric softener does stain your clothing, the stains will be more noticeable on some types of clothing than others. For example, the stains will be more noticeable on light-colored clothing, but even on dark-colored clothing, they can leave behind a greasy stain. Fabric softener stains can also be more noticeable on certain fabric types than others.

Will Fabric Softener Stains Come Out of Clothes?

Luckily, fabric softener stains are not the toughest to remove. It is possible to get them out of clothes, but it’s best to remove them while the stain is still wet. You’ll have the best luck at removing them after removing the clothing from the washing machine but before you put it in the dryer.

Once the stain dries, it will be much harder to remove, especially if the clothing was dried using heat instead of air-drying. Heat can cause the stain to set, so you’ll need to use more powerful cleaning agents if you want the best chance of removing the stain.

Will Fabric Softener Stains Come Out in the Washing Machine?

Does Fabric Softener Stain Clothes

Fabric softener stains may come out just by rewashing the clothes before drying them. However, this is provided that you don’t use any more fabric softener when you rewash them and the stains weren’t caused by a buildup in the washing machine.

But depending on the size of the stain and how long the stain has been on the clothing before you noticed it, you still may have to do a little bit of pre-treatment just to make sure that all of the stains come out when you do rewash it. Also, if the stain has already dried, it likely won’t come out just by rewashing it and you’ll need to pre-treat it before washing it again.

How to Get Fabric Softener Stains Out of Clothes

Remember that it’s best to get fabric softener stains out as soon as you notice them, preferably while the clothing is still wet. If this seems to be a problem that happens a lot, it’s a good idea to check your clothes when you take them out of the washing machine. Treat and fabric softener stains and then rewash the clothing before putting it in the dryer.

Below are the best ways to get fabric softener stains out of clothes, using products you probably already have at home. Some are better for certain types of fabric softener stains than others, so what works for you may not work for someone else. But, you can always try more than one if one method isn’t proving to be effective.

1. Vinegar

VinegarVinegar can remove almost any type of stain and fabric softener stains are no exception. This method works best if the fabric softener left behind a colored stain, especially on white clothing. You can try soaking the clothing in a solution of water with ¼ of vinegar added, but the best way is to use the vinegar directly in the washing machine.

All you’ll need to do is wash the clothes again using no detergent or fabric softener. Instead, you’ll add one cup of vinegar to the drum of the washing machine before adding the stained clothing. Just make sure that if you do this, you only wash the clothing stained with fabric softener to ensure that the vinegar can effectively reach and remove the stain.

Note that vinegar can cause discoloration on colored clothing. You’ll want to start the machine as soon as you add the clothing so that it can get diluted before it has time to damage the clothing.

2. Bar Soap

Stain Remover and Laundry Bar | Removes Stains from Clothing and Fabrics | Hand Wash Delicates | Targets Spit-Up, Food Mush and Soiled Clothing | Natural and Organic Ingredients | (220 grams)Bar soap is also an effective method that can work on both liquid fabric softener and dryer sheet stains. However, you want to make sure that you only use chemical-free white soap, as colored soap can leave behind colored stains on the clothing. Colored soap stains should come out just by washing the clothing, but it can make it hard to tell if you’ve coated the entire stain if you don’t use white soap.

To use bar soap to remove fabric softener stains. Just rub the soap on the stains to help break down some greasy residue. Then rewash the clothing with your regular laundry detergent without using fabric softener and check to make sure the stain has been removed before drying.

3. Dish Soap

MRS. MEYER'S CLEAN DAY Liquid Dish Soap, Biodegradable Formula, Radish, 16 fl. ozLiquid dish soap is designed to break down oily and greasy stains, so it can be very effective at removing stains left behind by fabric softener. All you have to do is apply a little bit of dish soap to the stain and gently rub it in.

Allow the soap to sit on the stain for about 5 to 10 minutes to give it time to work and break down the stain. Then, rewash the clothing with your regular detergent. Avoid using fabric softener until you’re sure the stain has been removed.

4. Laundry Detergent

Tide Free & Gentle, Liquid Laundry Detergent Soap, Unscented, Hypoallergenic for Sensitive Skin and Free of Dyes, HE Compatible, 64 Loads, 84 fl ozIf the fabric softener stain is large or stubborn and you’ve tried everything else, the best method for removing it is to use laundry detergent. To use it, you’ll apply laundry detergent directly onto the stain and rub it in.

Let the laundry detergent soak into the stain for about 5 to 10 minutes to give it time to work. Then, wash the clothing in the hottest water that the clothing can handle (check the care tag) or cold water if the fabric can’t handle hot water. Do not use fabric softener until you’re sure the stain has been removed and check to see if the stain was removed before putting the clothing into the dryer.

How to Remove Dried Fabric Softener Stains

If the fabric softener stain has dried into the clothing, then the best way to remove it would be to use an oxygen-based bleach. You don’t want to use chlorine bleach because it is not safe for some fabrics and can discolor them as well. Oxygen bleach is safe to use on both white and colored fabrics while still powerful enough to remove the stain.

To use it, you’ll need to mix the bleach and water according to the instructions on the package. Let the clothing soak in the bleach solution for several hours or even overnight, depending on how large the stain is and how long it has been on the clothing.

After soaking, wash the clothing without any detergent or fabric softener. Check to make sure the stain has been removed before putting the clothing in the dryer. Repeat the process if the stain is still there.

How to Prevent Fabric Softener From Staining Clothes

Once you’ve removed the fabric softener stains from your clothing, you’ll want to take measures to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. You can do several things to prevent fabric softener from staining clothes, depending on what you suspect the source of the stain is.

1. Make Sure Fabric Softener Is Safe to Use

The first thing you should do is to make sure that it is safe to use fabric softener with the clothing, depending on what type of fabric it is made of. Fabric softener can stain certain types of clothing more than others as well as interfere with properties of the clothing such as moisture-wicking ability, texture, etc. Check the care label before washing your clothing to see if it says not to use fabric softener.

2. Use the Right Amount

If it is safe to use fabric softener, then the next thing you’ll want to do is make sure you use the right amount of fabric softener. Fill the cup according to the size of the load. If you’re unsure how much to use, the back of the bottle should tell you.

3. Add It to the Right Place

Make sure you also add the fabric softener to the right place. On a top loader washing machine, the fabric softener dispenser is usually in the center column in the drum. In a front loader washing machine, there is usually a separate drawer for fabric softener located near the top of the appliance.

Fabric softener gets dispensed through the dispenser during the rinse cycle. If your top loader washing machine doesn’t have a fabric softener dispenser, you’ll have to add it to the washing machine during the rinse cycle by pouring it directly into the water, not onto the clothes themselves. If your front loader washing machine doesn’t have a dispenser, it’s best to use dryer sheets in the dryer instead of liquid fabric softener.

4. Don’t Overload the Machine

You also need to make sure that you aren’t putting too many clothes in the washing machine at once and that you use the right water level for the clothes you have in there. If you overload your machine, the clothes can’t move around as freely as fabric softener can get trapped between them. It may not get rinsed out, which can cause stains.

Using the right water level also helps ensure that the fabric softener gets diluted properly. Even if you use the right amount of fabric softener but not enough water, the fabric softener may not get rinsed out all the way.

5. Clean the Dispenser

If you do all of the above but still get fabric softener stains on your clothes, it may be time to clean out the dispenser to remove built-up residue. To do this, fill the dispenser with vinegar and run the washing machine without any clothing or laundry detergent in it. The vinegar will help to flush out the dispenser. Repeat this process regularly to prevent stains from happening in the future.


I hope this guide was helpful for removing fabric softener stains from your clothing. It’s a common occurrence and the stains can usually be removed pretty easily. But they can also be prevented by using fabric softener properly and cleaning the dispenser regularly. If you know someone else who could use these tips, be sure to share this guide with them.