How To Get Unsightly Fabric Softener Stains Out Of Your Clothing

Fabric softener is just as much a part of our laundry as detergent. The magic liquid helps our clothes stay wrinkle-free, keeps them from fading, gives them a soft touch, and adds a lovely scent. It's tempting to add an extra splash, but stains can occur when you use too much fabric softener. Fortunately, vinegar and bleach are stellar for undoing this laundry mishap.

When you use too much fabric conditioner, its silicone ingredient can stick to clothes fibers, leaving a greasy stain on your freshly washed garments. If you don't catch the oily mess after washing and put the clothes in the dryer, the high heat will make matters worse. It's one reason you'll want to stop using fabric softeners immediately. However, the problem is avoidable. You can dilute the laundry softener with water, use less every load, and never pour it directly onto your clothes. When the problem is already at your doorstep, that's when the vinegar or bleach comes in.

How to remove wet fabric softener stains

If the dreaded fabric softener stains have appeared after your clothes have cycled through the washing machine, don't stress — they just need another spin. You can put the garments back in the washer and run a normal cycle with water and 2 cups of white distilled vinegar for a load of white clothes. The acid will dissolve the fabric conditioner residue caked onto the fibers. Plus, the vinegar not only removes stains but it also softens your clothes. It would be a great replacement for stain-causing fabric softeners, but it is too harsh for the washing machine. If used often, the acid can degrade the appliance's rubber parts.

For colored clothes, you need to add the vinegar to the water first to dilute the cleaner before dumping your wardrobe in, as vinegar's acidic properties have a bleaching agent. There is no need to add any detergent or soap to the load. Once the cycle finishes, the stains should be gone. However, if the stain dries into the fabric, it will take more work to remove.

How to remove dry fabric softener stains

When clothing with fabric softener residue passes through the dryer, the high heat sets in the stain. However, these messes aren't permanent. They just need to be soaked before getting rewashed. Simply let the fabrics steep in oxygen-based bleach and warm water. Oxygen bleach is color-safe, unlike chlorine bleach. It also brightens and deodorizes your garments. But it may damage your wool, silk, and leather goods. You'll want to handwash these delicate fabrics instead with mild dish soap if they have any conditioner residue, then rinse and air dry.

For the rest of your garbs that can handle a soak, follow the bleach product's instructions for the bleach-to-water ratio. Generally, it should be approximately one part bleach to five parts water. Let the stained clothing soak for at least 3 hours and up to 24. After its bath, wash on a regular cycle in water without detergent or fabric softener. The clothing will be as good as new.