Is Fabric Softener Bad For a Washing Machine?

Fabric softeners are used all over the world in the process of washing clothes. Do you know how fabric softeners can harm your washing machines?

Even though they add a scent to your clothes, they might be affecting both the clothes and the washing machine in the long run.

Using fabric softeners, especially the ones that come with some percentage of animal fat as a component, can cause washing machines to clog up in the long run. It can also have negative impacts on the quality of your clothes. There are easy ways to come up with alternatives.

Keep reading to learn more about how this happens and we can end with some alternative recommendations that aren’t as bad.

You’ll come to find out that there are items found in every household that can be used to come up with better options.

What does fabric softener do?

It softens the clothes and adds a pleasant scent to them. They have a chemical that makes the washed clothes feel softer to touch because the chemical reduces friction.

The softener neutralizes the static charge of the clothes through a positive charge and this process makes the clothes feel fluffier.

What are the detrimental effects of a fabric softener?

Using too much of fabric softeners can cause damage to your machine. Since it is a chemical, it can cause mold to build up in the outlets of your machine which build up over time.

This buildup can cause clogging which causes leakage problems within the machine.

This leakage can then shorten the lifespan of the machine because the water is not being drained properly.

The collection of mold can also lead to fungal growth within the outlets, leaving a foul odor both inside the machine and sometimes even the washed clothes themselves. The entire cycle becomes counterproductive.

The clogging can also contribute to the heating factor of your machine. In extreme circumstances, this can lead to fires due to the presence of electrical wiring.

This is further aggravated by the presence of clothes within the machine which catches fires easily.

All of these factors are further amplified if your fabric softener has animal fats within it. Some companies add it to make the washed clothes even smoother.

Even though it makes the clothes feel better to touch, it aggravates the issues created even further.

Solutions to this problem

You should use fabric softeners in moderation. Do not use them every time you wash your clothes; this will help to reduce the chance of buildup and should keep the machine running safely.  

You can opt to stop using fabric softeners and this should solve the problem altogether. This is especially true if your fabric softener has animal fats. Perhaps switch to one that does not have such ingredients.

Even if you do use the fabric softener, make it a habit of cleaning the washing machine regularly after it has been used. This will prevent buildup.

So, you should clean the machine yourself or use a washing machine cleaner.

If you are cleaning it yourself, be sure to consult the instructions manual that comes with every washing machine. This will help you avoid causing damage yourself and prevent accidents.

If you are looking for alternatives to fabric softeners that produce similar results, you can use either vinegar or baking soda.

Both of these can be found at home and produce softer clothes along with a present aroma if you get the mixture right.

How to make a fabric softener alternative at home?

The ingredients you will need are:

  1. A cup of white vinegar
  2. A cup of water
  3. 30 drops of essential oils, preferably with a fragrance of your preference.


  1. Combine the ingredients and shake well.
  2. Add essential oils if you prefer, to the degree that you want and it is ready for use.

This is an acceptable solution and using this blend will not only prevent damage to your washing machine, but it will also leave your clothes with a pleasant smell after they have been dried.


Although fabric softener is quite popular, many people are unaware of the damage it causes to the machine, the clothes, and also the environment as it is not bio-degradable.

Make the switch to a better alternative to save money later on.