Putting fabric softener in washing machine

Fabric Softener Drains Immediately – Causes and Solutions

A range of issues that can cause fabric softener to drain out of a washing machine’s detergent drawer either immediately or just before it should.

Sometimes this happens as the fabric softener is being poured into the drawer, and others it might be just as soon as the cycle starts.

Either way, this shouldn’t be happening, and if it is, it is unlikely that your clothes are being properly conditioned. They also won’t have the fabric conditioner smell you’re after.


How Does a Detergent Drawer Work?

In essence, detergent drawers work by creating a siphoning effect. The washing machine floods water into the detergent drawer, and this water will drain back out into the machine, bringing the detergent or fabric softener with it.

This is an incredibly simple system, that generally requires no moving parts. Instead, it just relies on incoming water.

Washing machine detergent drawer

Causes of Fabric Softener Draining Immediately

1. Too much fabric softener

A common cause of the fabric softener draining immediately is that the compartment has been overfilled. If the level of fabric softener is too high, it will start the siphoning effect on its own, without needing any water to achieve this.

Fabric softener compartments should have a “max” line. Never fill the compartment over this line. If you do, the fabric softener will likely drain immediately.

2. Dirt or residue in the drawer

The simple nature of how the detergent drawer works means that it is susceptible to issues caused by dirt. If there is a build-up of grime in the bottom of the fabric softener compartment, this will effectively push the level of fabric softener up, causing it to overflow.

In addition, a build-up of dirt in the back of the detergent drawer can cause all manner of problems with the proper flow of water into the drawer.

To resolve this issue, take the drawer out of the washing machine and clean it thoroughly. Before you put the drawer back in, you should also clean inside the space behind where the drawer normally sits.

Modern households tend to wash clothing at low temperatures for energy efficiency, however this can have negative implications for the inside of the washing machine.

If you do find that your issues with fabric softener draining too soon is caused by a build-up of dirt, make sure that you regularly run a service cycle on your washing machine and clean the inside of the drawer to stop this happening again.

3. Damaged detergent drawer

Another common cause of fabric softener draining immediately is a damaged detergent drawer.

If there is a crack in the fabric softener compartment, the fabric softener will leak out through this.

In the same way, if there is a crack in the divide between the fabric softener and detergent compartments, you might find that the fabric softener drains with the detergent.

Take the drawer out of the machine and inspect it carefully for damage. If you find any cracks or holes in the drawer, you should replace it.

A damaged detergent drawer could be caused by old age, and the stress of being used regularly for years and years. Alternatively, if the drawer is closed too hard, this could stress the plastic, leading to damage.


Beware When Opening the Detergent Drawer

If you are opening the detergent drawer to determine whether the fabric softener has drained too early, especially if the drum is still filling, be aware that the act of opening the drawer can cause the fabric softener to drain.

Many washing machines will drain the contents of the detergent drawer if it is opened early in the cycle when the fabric softener or detergents are still in the drawer.

The only time this won’t happen is after the second time the machine has filled up with water, as this is the point at which the drawer should be empty.

If none of these fixes worked, consult the manufacturer or an engineer for advice on how to rectify the problem.