Washing Machine Isn't Taking Fabric Conditioner

Why Isn’t My Washing Machine Taking the Fabric Conditioner?

If your washing machine isn’t taking up fabric conditioner, you’ve likely got stiff clothes and you’re probably thinking about dashing off to buy a new machine.

But before you do that, check out my list of reasons and solutions because you could end up saving yourself a fortune!

Plus, there’s probably very little wrong with your washing machine, and all it needs is some TLC.

Potential Reasons Why Your Machine Isn’t Taking Fabric Conditioner

There are a number of reasons why your washing machine isn’t taking in fabric conditioner. And luckily for you, there are a few things you can do to try and resolve the issue!

Read on to find out why the conditioner isn’t being used properly in your washing machine.

Reason 1: Buildup of fabric conditioner

The most likely reason why the conditioner isn’t getting to your clothes is that you’ve got a buildup of fabric softener in the conditioner’s slot.

It’s easy to assume that every bit of conditioner gets used in a wash, after all, clothes come out smelling fresh and they’re super soft… but it’s not really the case.

In fact, what really happens is, a lot of the conditioner goes down into the drum initially and it does do what it’s supposed to do. But, tiny remnants of fabric conditioner always get left behind in the conditioner compartment of your washing machine drawer.

Fabric Conditioner Buildup

Over a period of time, these little pieces build up and turn into a gooey mess. This gloopy mess then restricts the fabric conditioner from getting to your clothes further down the line.

So, in the end, you end up with a drawer that’s still got fabric softener in it, and your clothes aren’t soft anymore. 

As it happens you can rectify this very, very quickly – just read on to find out more.

Reason 2: Washing machine isn’t level

If you’ve got a fairly old washing machine and it’s only recently started leaving fabric conditioner behind, then perhaps this reason isn’t so applicable to you.

But for those of you who have just bought a new washing machine, and the fabric conditioner has never been taken by the machine, read on!

If your washing machine is relatively new you should check to see if the machine has been leveled correctly.

If a washing machine isn’t leveled properly the fabric conditioner will not drain out of its compartment correctly. So, by the end of a wash cycle, you’ll still have all of your fabric conditioner left behind in the drawer.

There is a really cheap solution to this – read on to find out more! 

Reason 3: Water pressure is too low

On occasions, there may not be enough water pressure getting into the washing machine. And although clothes may still be washed, a lack of pressure can prevent the fabric conditioner from leaving its compartment.

In the end, you’re left with a drawer of unused conditioner.

You can easily solve this issue – read on to find out how!

Reason 4: Fabric softener is too thick

If you’re positive that your washing machine drawer is clean and you have removed any blockages, then your issue could be with the fabric conditioner that you’re using.

This won’t apply to all fabric softeners but some conditioners can be quite thick. These thick fabric conditioners are quite hard for the washing machine to stomach, so in the end, the washing machine just doesn’t bother taking all of the conditioners down.

You can solve this problem very quickly – read on to find out how!

Reason 5: Wash cycle has been stopped

It’s an easy mistake to make… you pop the washing machine onto your preferred cycle, you put your detergent and conditioner in, you press start, and walk away. You return sometime later when you assume that the washing machine has completed its cycle.

Only it hasn’t actually done anything, because the cycle was stopped by the washing machine itself for some unknown reason.

In the end, you assume your clothes have been washed, but you’ve still got conditioner in the drawer, so you think that there is something wrong. In reality nothing is wrong with the fabric conditioner, it’s just the washing machine having an off day!

So, you’ve now got a good idea about what could be causing this problem… But how do you solve the issue? Read on to find out what you can do!


How to Get Your Fabric Conditioner Dispenser to Empty

There are many solutions you can try at home yourself to resolve this issue. Plus, most of the solutions are fairly quick and are cheap too!

Cleaning the Detergent Drawer

Solution 1: Clean the detergent drawer

One of the easiest ways to solve this problem is to keep the drawer in your washing machine clean. This includes cleaning every compartment in the drawer too.

To do this all you need to do is:

Front-loading washing machine…

  1. Slide the drawer out (could be a lever you need to press – check your user manual).
  2. Go to the sink.
  3. Run hot water all over the drawer to clean away any debris.
  4. Get a soft toothbrush to rub away any tough bits of dirt.
  5. Run the drawer under more hot water.
  6. Clean the space where the drawer slides in and out.
  7. Use the soft toothbrush to clean this space too.
  8. Wipe the drawer down.
  9. Replace the drawer.

Top-loading washing machine…

  1. Check your user manual to see how to remove the wing distributor and rinse cap.
  2. Locate and open the detergent drawer.
  3. Slide the drawer open so you have access to the essential parts.
  4. Pull out the wing distributor.
  5. Pull out the rinse cap.
  6. Clean the wing distributor and rinse the cap under warm water.
  7. Use a soft toothbrush to clear away tough dirt.
  8. Wash the drawer too.
  9. Wipe and dry all the pieces.
  10. Replace the wing distributor, rinse cap, and drawer.

There may be slight variations from model to model, so follow the guidance in your user manual on how to clean the drawer on a top-loading washing machine, if it differs from the steps above.

You should really clean the drawer out on a weekly basis as this will prevent any dirt from building up and causing blockages.

Solution 2: Clean the fabric softener tube

Underneath the fabric conditioner flap, there should be a syphon tube. This tube can get blocked up so it has to be maintained.

To clean this tube all you need to do is:

  1. Remove the drawer.
  2. Locate the syphon tube.
  3. With warm water rub the tube down.
  4. Clean the rest of the drawer as best as you can.
  5. Replace the drawer.
  6. Fill the detergent drawer with water.
  7. Start a warm cycle.
  8. The tube should be clear by the end of this cycle – the conditioner should be drawn out.

This should be done on a regular basis, particularly if you use a thick softener.

Solution 3: Clean the water jets and remove limescale

When you pull the detergent drawer out of your washing machine you should be able to look up and into space it came out of.

You should be able to see some sort of water jet system here. This is where the water comes from when it needs to go to the various compartments in the drawer.

As you may have guessed over a period of time these jets can become clogged with mould and limescale, so it’s important that they are cleaned.

All you need to do is:

  1. Grab a spray bottle.
  2. Mix 1 part of white vinegar to 3 parts of warm water in the bottle.
  3. Spray this mixture onto the inside of the drawer.
  4. Leave it for a few minutes.
  5. Wipe the surface down.
  6. Use a toothbrush to remove any stubborn debris.
  7. Repeat if required.
  8. Wipe down the inside of the drawer with a warm cotton cloth.
  9. Replace the drawer.
  10. Run a cycle to see if the jets are working as they should – if not they may need to be replaced/repaired.

Solution 4: Level the washing machine

As I mentioned above, if your washing machine isn’t level, it may have issues drawing the fabric conditioner out of its compartment and into the drum.

Levelling the Washing Machine

An easy way to fix this problem is to check that the washing machine is level and adjust the washing machine by moving the adjustable feet if need be.

Further to this, make sure that the washing machine is placed on a hard and level floor.

Solution 5: Try running a hot cycle without clothes

Sometimes a washing machine just needs to be run on a very hot, clothes-free cycle, to reset itself.

Choose a hot setting and allow the machine to run, wait until the cycle is done and then try washing some clothes with detergent and conditioner to see if the problem still persists.

Solution 6: Fabric softener is too thick

If you think that your fabric softener is too thick you can always change it. This might help your machine to stomach the conditioner.

On the other hand, if you want to stick with using the fabric conditioner you already use, you could just dilute it a little in water.

Just pop half the amount of fabric conditioner you’d usually use into the compartment in the drawer, and fill the other half of the compartment up with water. Remember, don’t go over the line.

The thinner the conditioner, the better it should be at going down the syphon tube and into the drum.

Solution 7: Clean water inlets

If you think that a lack of water pressure is the reason why your washing machine isn’t taking your fabric conditioner, you need to check the water pressure in your house first.

Further to this, you need to make sure that no obstructions are blocking the water from getting to the conditioner. Clumps of dirt will slow the water down and may result in the water not even getting to the conditioner, so the compartment never gets emptied.

You should check the water inlets in your washing machine because this is where the problem could be. Not sure where they are? Read your user manual to see how you get access to this part and how you can clean this area properly.

Solution 8: Wash the washing machine with white vinegar

You may find it helpful to give your washing machine a clean, just to make sure that there are no blockages left anywhere.

A good way of doing this is to pop 2 cups of white vinegar into the detergent drawer and then run a hot cycle. You do not need to put clothes, detergent or fabric conditioner into the machine.

Allow the white vinegar to work its magic. A good clean can do the world of good!

Solution 9: Call a professional

If you can’t find the reason for your issue above and none of the solutions discussed work, then perhaps you should call for professional help.

  •     If you’re fortunate enough to still have a warranty for your washing machine, you should look into this.
  •     Additionally, you could go back to the store you bought the washing machine from to see if they can help you.
  •     You can call up the manufacturer of your washing machine for assistance.
  •     Or, you could contact a company in your local area for help.



There are a number of reasons why your washing machine isn’t taking your fabric conditioner. However, there are also a number of cheap solutions that you can try right now to solve this issue.



Detergent and conditioner are running into my machine before I start a cycle, what’s wrong with my washing machine?

The likely cause for this problem is that the drawer has been filled up with too much detergent and/or excess fabric conditioner.

If you do not follow the guidelines on the back of a packet of detergent, and you fill the fabric softener slot too much, the products will start to run into the washing machine’s drum. This could ruin your clothes. Stick to the guides.