How to Clean the Softener on Washing Machines

Modern washing machines offer more than the simple ability to clean clothing -- many newer models also contain drawers or sleeves for the addition of liquid fabric softener. Fabric softeners soften the feel of fabrics, reduce static cling, and are often scented to leave clothes smelling fresh and clean. Over time, leftover softener can pool and clog up the basket in the dispenser drawer, blocking passage into the wash load and lessening the effectiveness of the softener. Cleaning the fabric softener basket can be done quickly.

Add fabric softener to a pull-out dispenser drawer.
  1. Make sure the washing machine is not in operation. Pull the fabric softener dispenser drawer out of the washer. Depending on the model, you may need to release a catch on the side of the drawer.
  2. Bring the drawer to a sink. Remove the fabric softener basket from the drawer.
  3. Clean the fabric softener residue from the drawer using a rag dampened with warm water.
  4. Rinse the basket under warm water. Run your fingers along the basket to loosen any clogged or clumped fabric softener buildup. Especially hard clumps of softener may have formed if you haven't cleaned the basket in a long time. Use a toothpick to loosen these harder clumps from the basket. Continue rinsing and rubbing the basket until all buildup is removed.
  5. Replace the cleaned basket in the dispenser drawer. Slide the drawer back into your washing machine. Repeat the process whenever fabric softener begins to accumulate in the basket.

About the Author

Brad Chacos started writing professionally in 2005, specializing in electronics and technology. His work has appeared in Salon.com, Gizmodo, "PC Gamer," "Maximum PC," CIO.com, DigitalTrends.com, "Wired," FoxNews.com, NBCNews.com and more. Chacos is a frequent contributor to "PCWorld," "Laptop Magazine" and the Intuit Small Business Blog.