When Fabric Softener Gets Thick: How to Solve the Problem

fabric softener
(Source: sefa orzel/Canva)

Have you ever gone to use your fabric softener just to find that it’s all thick and goopy? It can be a huge pain to try and fix, because it can cause all sorts of problems, from clogging up your washing machine to leaving a residue on your clothes.

In this blog post, we will discuss what causes them to get thick and how you can solve the problem!

fabric softener
Credit: canva

Why Does Fabric Softener Get Thick?

There are a few possible explanations.

Needs to be Stirred

The most likely scenario is that it has separated and needs to be stirred. This can happen if the bottle isn’t stored properly or if it’s been sitting on a shelf for too long. 


Another possibility is that evaporation has occurred. If it is stored in a warm place or if the bottle isn’t sealed tightly, evaporation can cause the liquid to become thicker.

Gone Bad 

If you’ve had the bottle for longer than six months or you can’t remember when you bought it, it’s probably time to get rid of it and buy a new one. 

How to Prevent It?

fabric softener
Credit: canva

Now that you know how to fix the problem, let’s discuss how to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Generally, fabric conditioner has a shelf life of approximately 12 months after which they could begin to thicken.

Here are how to prolong the softener’s shelf life and prevent it from thickening.

Store It Properly

This means keeping it in a cool, dry place away from any heat sources. You should also make sure that the bottle is tightly sealed when you’re not using it.

Don’t Let It Sit

Another way to prevent it from getting thick is to make sure you don’t let it sit for too long.

The good news is that when fabric softener gets thick, you can thin it out by using water or white vinegar.

How to Fix Thick Fabric Softener

washing fabric
Using fabric softener in a washing machine. Credit: canva

The good news is that there’s an easy fix.

Solution #1: Add Water

If it has gone too thick, the best solution is to simply add some water, preferably boiling water, back in.

For every cup, add ½ cup of water. This will thin it out and make it usable again. Just be sure to shake it up well before using it. 

Solution #2: Add White Vinegar

If adding water doesn’t work too well for you, try adding white vinegar.

Mix 1/2 cup of the thick, lumpy softener with 1 tablespoon of distilled white vinegar. The lumps were gone after a quick shake.


Is fabric conditioner the same as a fabric softener?

Fabric conditioners are used to soften fabrics after washing. They contain ingredients that prevent static cling and reduce wrinkles. A fabric softener is a chemical that adds moisture to dry clothes and removes odors. Both products are available in liquid form. 

Can you add water to the fabric softener?

Yes, you can add water to the fabric conditioner. Just follow the instructions on the bottle. 

What does it mean when fabric softener gets thick?

It means that the fabric softener has been used too often. This happens when you wash clothes frequently.

When Do Fabric Softener Sheets Expire?

Most sheets have a shelf life of about 12 months. After that, they may begin to lose their effectiveness. If you’re not sure how old your sheets are, it’s best to throw them away and buy new ones.

Can you wash clothes without a fabric softener?

Yes, you can wash clothes without it. However, your clothes may not be as soft or smell as fresh as they would. 

Related Topics

Why is My Washing Machine Leaving Grey Marks on My Clothes?

If your washing machine is leaving grey marks on your clothes, it’s likely because of a build-up of dirt and grime on the drum or tub. Over time, this can cause staining and discoloration of your clothes.

To clean your washing machine and remove the grey marks, use a good quality washing machine cleaner and scrub the interior of the drum or tub with a soft cloth.

You may also need to descale the washing machine if there is hard water build-up inside.

If you’re still seeing grey marks after cleaning, test using a different detergent before calling a repair technician.

Why are there Black Marks on My Clothes After Washing?

These marks are actually mildew or mold and can be caused by a number of things, including leaving wet laundry in the washing machine for too long, not cleaning the washing machine regularly, or using cold water instead of hot.

To get rid of the black marks on your clothes, simply rewash them in hot water with a bit of bleach.

What Happens if You Use Expired Laundry Detergent?

The detergent will just be a little less effective at getting your clothes clean. However, if you’re using liquid laundry detergent that has gone bad, it can get thickened and clog your washing machine.

Does Laundry Detergent Expire if Not Opened?

Yes, it does expire. Laundry detergent, like most products, has a limited shelf life.

If the product doesn’t have a “best used by” date, follow this guideline: Unopened liquid laundry detergent will last nine months to one year after purchase.

Can You Put Fabric Softener Straight into the Washing Machine?

Yes! You can absolutely put it straight into the washing machine. In fact, most products these days are designed to be used that way.

Simply add the recommended amount and let the washing machine do its job. You’ll end up with softer, more fragrant clothes that are easier to iron. Win-win!

Can You Dilute Fabric Softener?

Yes. To dilute fabric softener, mix it with an equal amount of water. This will help to prevent any damage to your clothes.

Is Fabric Softener Bad for Towels?

No, it is not bad for towels. In fact, it can actually help to keep them softer and fluffier for longer. Just be sure to use the recommended amount so that you don’t end up with any residue on your towels.

Why Do Clothes Say Not to Use Fabric Softeners?

First, some can actually damage the fibers of your clothes over time, making them weaker and more prone to tearing.

Second, they can leave a residue on your clothes that can attract dirt and dust, leading to a build-up over time.

Finally, they can cause your clothes to become static, making them more difficult to manage.

Why is the Softener Compartment Not Draining?

The softener compartment is not draining because it is most likely clogged. You may also need to descale the washing machine if there is hard water build-up inside.

If you’re still seeing grey marks after cleaning, test using a different detergent before calling a repair technician.

Why is My Softener Drawer Full of Water?

It’s because the washing machine is not draining properly.

To fix this, you’ll need to clean the drain pump filter and remove any blockages that may be causing the issue. You may also need to descale the washing machine if there is hard water build-up inside.

What Happens if You Put too Much Fabric Softener in the Washing Machine?

Using too much will cause a residue to build up in your washing machine over time. This can then lead to leaving stains on clothing, which may ruin them.

Is Fabric Softener Necessary?

No, it is not necessary. However, it can help to keep clothes softer and smelling fresher for longer.

Should You Use Dryer Sheets with Bed Sheets?

No. Adding fabric softener or using dryer sheets can actually reduce the absorbency and breathability of your sheets.

Can I Use Vinegar Instead of Fabric Softener?

Yes. You can use vinegar to remove any residues that leave the fabric feeling stiff.

Is Downy Fabric Softener Safe?

Yes. Downy is safe and effective that can be used on most types of fabrics.

How Do You Make Your Clothes Smell Good?

  • Wash them regularly
  • Use a fabric softener
  • Hang them outside to air out
  • Keep them in a well-ventilated area

Why Do My Clothes Feel Rough After Washing?

There are a few reasons why your clothes may feel rough after washing:

  • You’re using too much detergent
  • The water is too hard
  • You’re not using a fabric softener

Do You Think Cleaning Products Will Still Work Even After Its Expiration Date?

No. Cleaning products may not work as well after their expiration date, but they should still be safe to use. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and throw them out.

Can I Put Fabric Softener in the Drum?

No. it should only be added to the compartment of your washing machine.

Can I Use Hair Conditioner for Fabric Softener?

Yes. Hair conditioner, mixed with white vinegar and water, can be used in place to leave your clothes feeling softer and smelling fresher.

Was this article helpful?