How to Remove Fabric Softener Stains Out of Clothes?

Fabric Softener Stain GuideKey Points
Fabric Softener Staining– Excessive use can cause stubborn stains.
Appearance of Stains– Yellowish, greasy stains on collars and cuffs.
Causes of Staining– Clogged dispenser, pouring directly on clothes.
Stain Removal Methods– Rinse in hot water, spot clean, use bleach or soap.
Dealing with Dried Stains– Use oxygen-based bleach, test on a small area.
Prevention Tips– Follow usage instructions, consider alternatives.
Vinegar for Stain Removal– Yes, use during rinse cycle or in the dispenser.

Fabric Softeners are a great way to soften the fabric and add fragrance to your clothes.

But sometimes, they can also leave adamant stains that are extremely difficult to remove.

In this post, you will learn exactly how to remove fabric softener stains out of clothes step by step.

Here’s what this article covers.

Can Fabric Softener Stain Clothes?

A fabric softener is more likely to stain your clothes than regular detergent.

If you use an excessive amount of fabric softener, it can stick to your clothes and other fabrics.

Furthermore, these residues just build up inside your washing machine over time, which can eventually lead to staining your clothes.

To avoid this, always dilute the fabric softener and use it in a limited quantity.

And after you are done washing your clothes make sure to get the dispensers cleaned so that the residue does not accumulate.

So, yes fabric softener does stain clothes if you are not using it wisely.

What Do Fabric Softener Stains look like?

In general, Fabric softener stains look like a yellowish greasy stain and are caused by the residue of fabric softener or dryer sheets.

These stains are usually found on the collar, cuffs, or around the buttons of shirts.

With that said, they can also be found in dark-colored clothes.

The good news is that these stains are not permanent and can be removed quite easily.

What do detergent stains look like?

Detergent stains are usually white or light-colored streaks or spots.

They can be difficult to remove, but with some patience, it is possible to get rid of them.

To remove a detergent stain, you will need to use a cleaner OR a stain remover that is specifically designed for removing this type of stain.

You may also need to use a scrub brush to help loosen the stain.

What causes Fabric Softener to Leave a Stain?

There are many reasons that may cause fabric softener to leave a stain.

In general, it happens when you use an excessive quantity of fabric softener, OR if it is not diluted properly.

Having said that, here are some common reasons why fabric softener may leave a stain:

Fabric softener dispenser is clogged

Your clothes may attract greasy-looking stains if the fabric softener dispenser is clogged.

A clogged dispenser can cause the liquid to not dilute properly, thereby releasing a higher concentration of fabric softener intermittently.

Fabric Softener Compartment in your washer is generally clogged when there is a film or grime build-up on it, therefore it’s important to clean the washer at least once a month.

Also Read: How to Unclog the Fabric Softener Dispenser?

Pouring Fabric softener directly onto the clothes

Pouring fabric softener directly onto the clothes can also cause staining, as it can leave a concentrated spot of liquid on the garment.

It is always best to pour the fabric softener into the dispenser to avoid this.

Using too much fabric softener

If you use too much fabric softener, it can build up on your clothes and leave a residue.

To avoid this, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on how much fabric softener to use.

Accumulated Fabric softener residue

Fabric Softeners are greasy, a lot of time what happens is, that it tends to form a chunky paste-like consistency and stick to the washer’s internal components.

This is different from a choked or a blocked dispenser, it’s just that these thick chunks often stick inside the washer and tend to get attracted to clothes and other fabrics.

It often happens when you use too much fabric softener, or if the fabric softener has passed the expiry date.

Poor Quality Fabric Softener

If you are using a poor-quality fabric softener, it can also cause staining.

To avoid this, always buy a good quality fabric softener from a reputable brand.

Fabric Softener is frozen

This usually happens when you are located in a very cold climate.

When the fabric softener freezes, it can expand and may not dilute as it is supposed to.

This can cause staining, as the fabric softener will be released in a concentrated form.

Also Read: How to Winterize a Washing Machine?

Can Fabric Softener Stains Come Out of Clothes?

If you have a fabric softener stain on your clothing, don’t despair.

There are several things you can do to try to remove the stain.

First, you can try washing the item of clothing in your washing machine.

If that does not work, you can try removing the stain with a damp cloth and some laundry detergent, similar to spot cleaning.

Let’s take a quick look at the necessary steps that you need to take in order to get rid of softener stains from your clothes.

How to Remove a Fabric Softener Stain Out Of Clothes?

remove fabric softener stains

The method to remove fabric softener stains may vary depending on the severity of the stain, as well as the fabric of the clothing.

In general, you will need to use a cleaner or a stain remover that is specifically designed for removing this type of stain.

Here are five ways to get rid of softener stains from clothes.

Rinse Clothes in Hot Water

If the stain is fresh, you may be able to remove it by rinsing the garment in hot water and laundry detergent.

If the stain is older or more stubborn, you may need to use bleach or dish soap.

Spot Clean

In order to remove fabric softener stains, you can try spot cleaning the affected areas.

Simply prepare the cleaning solution by putting mild detergent in a bowl of warm water.

And then dip a clean and dry cloth in the solution.

Next, blot the stain and gently rub the area with a liquid solution.

Use Bleach

You may need to use bleach if the stains are extremely adamant.

To use bleach, mix one part bleach with three parts water and apply it to the stain.

Let the solution sit for a few minutes, approx.10 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.

Use Mild Soap

If you don’t like bleach try using a bar of soap.

To use dish soap, wet the stained area and rub in a small amount of soap.

Rinse well and repeat as necessary.

Once the stain is gone, wash the garment as usual to remove any residue.

Note: Before you rub the soap you must read the care label on the fabric first.

Use Stain Remover

If the above methods don’t work, you can try using a stain remover.

Follow the instructions on the product and apply it to the stain.

Once the stain is removed, wash the clothes as usual.

How to Remove Dried Fabric Softener Stains?

To remove dried fabric softener stains, first, make sure the stain is dry.

If it is still wet, blot it with a clean and dry cloth.

If the stain is dry, you can try using oxygen-based bleach.

This type of bleach is safe to be used on colored fabrics without any detergent.

To use it, dampen the area with water and then apply the oxygen-based bleach.

Let the bleach sit for an approx. 15 minutes and then rinse it off.

If the stain is still there, repeat the process.

You can also try using regular bleach on white fabrics.

Be sure to test it on a small area first to make sure the bleach is safe to be used on your fabric.

Tips to Prevent Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheet Stains

In order to prolong the lifespan of your daily wear OR expensive clothes, it’s important to keep them safe by adopting safe laundry practices.

Here are some tips that you can follow to avoid fabric softener and dryer sheet stains.

Read Manufacturer Label

To prevent fabric softener stains in the future, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for using fabric softener and be sure to rinse your garments thoroughly after washing to remove any residue.

Avoid using fabric softener

If you frequently have problems with fabric softener stains, it may be best to avoid using fabric softener altogether.

There are other ways to keep your clothes soft and static-free without using fabric softener (You may use Vinegar OR Baking Soda instead).

Use a Laundry Additive

You can also try using a laundry additive that is designed to prevent fabric softener stains.

These additives are usually added to the wash cycle along with your laundry detergent.

Choose the Right Fabric Softener

To further prevent fabric softener stains, be sure to choose a quality fabric softener that is designed to work well in cold water.

This will help to prevent the fabric softener from freezing and causing stains.

Use Vinegar

If you are using vinegar in your laundry, be sure to add it after the fabric softener. Doing this helps to remove any residue that may be left behind.

Clean your Washer

It’s important to clean your washing machine regularly to prevent fabric softener stains.

Buildup from fabric softener can cause clothing to become stained, so it’s important to clean your washer every few months to remove any residue.

You can clean your washer by running it on the hottest cycle with a cup of vinegar.

Can Vinegar remove fabric softener stains and soften fabrics at the same time?

Vinegar is a great fabric softener and can also remove softener stains.

To use vinegar as a fabric softener, add 1 cup of white vinegar to your washing machine during the rinse cycle.

You can also add a cup of vinegar to your fabric softener compartment if your washing machine has one.

If you have a front-loading washing machine, pour the vinegar into the bleach dispenser.

For top loading machines, pour the vinegar directly into the tub.

Be sure to dilute the vinegar with water if you are using it in the bleach dispenser.

With that said, you should also avoid using concentrated vinegar on colored fabrics.

Final Thoughts

Fabric softener stains can be difficult to remove, but with the right techniques, you can get the job done.

Just be careful while using any chemical-based cleaners OR even bleach for removing stains, as not all fabrics can handle these strong concentrated solutions well.

If you are unsure about using any of these products, it’s always best to test them on a small area first.

Lastly, always read the care label first before deciding on the approach.

Hemant Sarkar is a seasoned techie with a diploma in computer science and an impressive track record of over 15 years in dealing with speakers, kitchen appliances, and various home appliance-related issues. He is widely recognized for his exceptional expertise in repairing dryers and washing machines from all major brands. In addition to his appliance repair prowess, Hemant maintains engaging blogs on topics related to music and speakers. For any inquiries or assistance regarding appliances or tech-related matters, you can reach out to him at: hemant (at)