How To Get Fabric Softener Stains Out Of Clothes?

Fabric softener stains can be really annoying, especially if you wanted to wear stained clothes right away. However, there are several pretty easy ways to get rid of them, so don’t worry! Continue reading to find out how to get fabric softener stains out of clothes and how to avoid them in the first place.

How To Get Rid Of Fabric Softener Stains Out Of Clothes?

Getting rid of fabric softener stains can be easy if they are not very stubborn. Even when they are, there are still options and steps you can take to make your clothes look brand-new again.

If Only One Piece Of Clothing Is Stained

fabric softener stains

If you notice that just one piece of your clothing is stained before putting it in the dryer, separate it from the rest and do the following:

  • Put the piece of clothing on the flat surface and get it wet with a bit of water.
  • Take either liquid soap, bar soap, or laundry detergent and apply it to the stained area.
  • Gently scrub with a toothbrush – use slow and smooth movements so you don’t damage the area; if the material is soft and thin, use only your fingers.
  • Rinse it with lukewarm water and let it dry naturally.

If the stain is still visible, repeat the process a few times. It is important to use mild soap with no added fragrances or additives. If you don’t have it, you can also use a mild shampoo or dish soap, as well as a few drops of body wash.

If The Whole Load Of Clothes Is Stained

how to get fabric softener out of clothes

Sometimes a whole load of clothes gets stained by a fabric softener. This can be particularly annoying, especially if you need those clothes dried and ready to wear fast.

Instead of doing the previously mentioned step over and over again for each piece of clothing, there is a better and faster alternative. Don’t put your clothes in the dryer yet as it can make the stains more difficult to get rid of. Do the following instead:

  • Put your clothes back in the washing machine. Don’t use any kind of detergent in this case.
  • Set your washing machine to ‘rinse only’ and set the temperature to the highest possible you can without risking damaging the material.
  • Wait for the washing machine to finish rinsing the clothes again – it shouldn’t take more than around 15 minutes to half an hour, depending on the manufacturer.
  • When it’s done, take the clothes out and let them dry. If you don’t see any stains, feel free to put them in a dryer.

If this didn’t work, the stains are probably a bit more stubborn than usual, but there is a solution for that too. Here are the steps you can take if the ‘rinse only’ option didn’t work for you:

  • Put the clothes back in the washing machine again.
  • Add some mild laundry detergent, but not too much. You should put around half of what you would normally put when you are washing your clothes. Don’t use fabric softener this time.
  • Choose one of the fast-wash options. It can last from 15 minutes to around an hour, depending on how quickly you want it done and how many stains there are.
  • Wait for the washing machine to finish the cycle. When you take the clothes out, they should be stain-free and ready for a dryer.

This last option can also work if you noticed the stains after your clothes have already dried. It is a bit more difficult to remove the stains from dried clothes than it is from wet, so you can always just put them in the washing machine again and use one of the fast washing programs to remove the remaining spots.

Use Vinegar For Stubborn Stains

how to get softener stains out of clothes

If none of the previous options work, it is time to use multifunctional, good old white vinegar. Follow these steps if your clothes are still wet:

  • Block your sink and fill it with water. You can either use cold or hot water, depending on the clothes (always check the preferred temperature so you don’t damage them). You can also use a plastic container or your bathtub.
  • Put half a cup of white vinegar in and stir it for a minute. It is very important to dilute vinegar properly – it can stain the clothes even more if it comes into direct contact with them.
  • Place the stained clothes into the water and leave them for around an hour. The stains should be gone after that.
  • Rinse your clothes with clear water to remove the vinegar smell and dry them.

In case you have a lot of stained clothes, you can use vinegar as a laundry detergent.

  • Take all of the clothes out of a washing machine.
  • Dilute a cup of vinegar with two cups of fresh water and put it in the washing machine.
  • Put the clothes back in and run the full cycle again. Don’t add detergent or fabric softener this time.
  • When the washing cycle is done, your clothes should be clean.

Don’t worry about the vinegar smell on your clothes. By the time they have dried, it will most likely go away. What’s important is getting rid of those stains!

Remove Stains Using Bleach

how do you get fabric softener stains out of clothes

Bleach is a go-to solution for removing stains.

  • Mix one teaspoon of bleach with one cup of water.
  • Take a clean piece of cloth, dip it in the solution, and tap on the stain repeatedly until the stain gets out. You can also leave it for a few minutes.
  • Wash your clothes regularly and the stains should be gone.

Remember that bleach can damage your clothes depending on the color and the material. Use chlorinated bleach only for white clothes. The non-chlorinated one is usually safe to use on colored clothes. However, always check the label of your clothes and the instructions on the bleach bottle to avoid any unnecessary damage.

Use Stain Removal Detergent

how to remove fabric softener stains from dry clothes

This is a bit more aggressive option as these detergents usually have more chemicals and additives. However, if you tried everything and didn’t get the stains out, it is worth a shot. There are many options to choose from depending on whether you have stains on your white, colored, or black clothes, and how sensitive the material is.

How To Prevent Fabric Softener Stains

While there are many effective ways to get rid of fabric softener stains, preventing them is the best solution when possible. Luckily, it is easy to do so following the advice below.

Don’t Use Too Much Fabric Softener

This one is a bit obvious, but putting too much fabric softener in a dispenser is the reason for stains in most cases. It can be tempting to put more so your clothes smell nicer, but it is not worth it if stains are the end result. Always make sure to follow the directions written on the bottle.

how do i get fabric softener out of my clothes

Shake The Bottle Before Using

If your fabric softener bottle sits in one place for a long time, the ingredients can get separated and this is what may be causing your clothes to get stained. Make sure to shake the bottle before every use so the ingredients are equally distributed.

Consider Diluting Fabric Softener

If the stains keep happening, maybe your fabric softener is concentrated more than usual. In this case, you can dilute it and see if it gets better. Whenever you put the fabric softener in the dispenser, put the same amount of clean water in. You can also put half water half softener in a small cup and shake it before putting it in the container.

In case you don’t have an automatic dispenser of fabric softener, you can put the diluted mix directly into the washing machine. In this case, use 2:1 proportion – for any amount of fabric softener, double the amount of water you put in. You will also have to shake it because you don’t want the softener coming in direct contact with clothes.

Clean The Dispenser Regularly

The dispenser can get clogged and the residual of fabric softener can be the cause of your stained clothes. In this case, take it out and clean it manually. If your dispenser is non-removable, it’s time to use vinegar again!

  • Mix two cups of hot water and a cup of vinegar and put the mixture in the container. Some alternatives that you can use are liquid soap, liquid detergent, and dish soap.
  • Run your washing machine set to rinse only option without putting any clothes in.
  • Optionally, you can repeat the cycle once or twice more to be completely sure it is thoroughly cleaned.

This should minimize the risk of your clothes getting stained in the future.


Having your clothes stained by fabric softener can be very irritating, but luckily, there are many ways to get rid of those stains easily. You can also make sure to avoid them by taking steps to prevent the stains before they happen.


how to get fabric softener stains out of clothes

Leave a Comment