You just pulled your clothes out of the washer and noticed a greasy-looking splotch on your favorite shirt that wasn't there when you tossed it in there. How did that happen? You wouldn't think something involved in the laundry process would actually stain your clothes, but fabric softener stains are a real thing. Crazy, right? Here's how you get them out. (Luckily, it's simple!)
1 | What you'll need
Your favorite laundry detergent or a pure bar of white soap, free of scents, deodorants, and lotions
Small brush for scrubbing, like a nail brush (optional)
Bleach alternative (optional)
2 | What to do
- Dampen the stained area with water.
- Add a few drops of laundry detergent to the area or rub the bar of soap over the surface of the stain.
- Rub the detergent into the cloth with your fingertips.
- Optional step: Scrub gently with the small brush. Don't use too much pressure, as it could damage the fabric.
- Rinse the garment, making sure to get all of the soap suds out.
- Good Housekeeping recommends washing the clothing in the hottest water you can use without damaging it.
- Blot the clothing with the towel to remove any excess liquid.
- Hang or lay the garment flat to air dry.
- Repeat as many times as necessary.
3 | Expert tips
The best way to avoid getting fabric softener stains is to NOT use a fabric softener at all and opt for a detergent that has fabric softening ingredients built in. Our favorite is Grab Green's 3 in 1 Laundry Detergent. It works triple duty to 1) Clean clothes 2) Soften fabrics and 3) Remove Stains
Don't dry your garment in a dryer until you're sure the stain is gone because the high heat could set fabric softener stains just like any other type of stain.
Use a laundry detergent on the garment that you would normally use to wash it.
Never pour fabric softener directly onto the clothes in the washer. Even though it's just laundry detergent or plain soap, you may still wish to try the concentrated drops or bar on an inconspicuous area, just to err on the side of caution and protect the fabric.
You can use a color-safe bleach alternative to remove any residual stains, if there are any. You probably won't need this step, so don't go out and buy any just yet (at least not for a fabric softener stain). It's just a last resort for stains that won't budge.
If you find that you're getting a lot of these stains all of a sudden, it probably means your fabric softener dispenser is clogged and needs to be cleaned out. When it's clogged, the fabric softener could be released at the wrong time, resulting in stains. Even though the stains are easy to get rid of, it's much better not to have that extra step in the laundry process!
Consider making your own fabric softener with ingredients that aren't likely to stain. Everyday Roots has a recipe that uses epsom salt or sea salt and essential oils.