If the fabric softener is still in the fabric compartment at the end of the cycle and is not being taken out there are a few possible causes. The fault is unlikely to be serious. This article looks at the possible reasons why the fabric softener might have been left in the soap dispenser drawer.
Failed to complete the cycle?
It could be because the washing machine has aborted the program before reaching the section where the softener gets taken.
If this has happened you should get some indication that a fault has occurred. Flashing lights, a program selector knob clicking round, or an actual error code number being displayed.
If the wash cycle has failed to complete properly, the fault is unlikely to be related to the fabric softener.
Once this other fault has been fixed and the washing machine completes a full cycle once more the fabric softener should flush in OK. If you are sure that the wash cycle did not properly complete then go to this article – Washing machine stops mid cycle. But if the washing machine completed the cycle properly, and did all its rinses and the final fast spin, then read on.
Wash cycle has completed OK
If the washing machine is going through the wash program properly and doing the final spin at the end but the fabric softener just isn’t being taken out then these are the possible causes –
1: The main PCB has not sent power to the solenoid (water valve) that flushes the softener away. This is a possibility though quite unlikely.
2: Power has been sent to the water valve but a connection fault or break in a wire prevents the electricity getting to or from the valve (again this is likely to be rare).
3: The solenoid inside the water valve is open circuit (more likely).
4: If there is a mechanical arm to divert water into the fabric softener compartment (instead of a solenoid) it could be jammed (* see below).
Water valve fault?
The most likely cause is an open circuit water valve that flushes softener into the drum. However, not all washing machines have a separate softener valve. Some divert water that’s normally used for rinsing into the compartment by a mechanical arm.
If there is a separate solenoid valve for the fabric softener it should be easy enough to see. There will be a separate solenoid with 2 wires and a hose connecting to the soap dispenser to where the softener dispenser is. To test a water valve solenoid you need to use a continuity test meter. Don’t just assume it is faulty. Disconnect the washer from the electricity supply! Take off the wires to the valve and see if you get a reading.
Testing a water valve
The windings on a solenoid valve are very thin, and very long. So there is a high resistance. If testing on the wrong setting you could get open circuit with some test meters, even if it is not.
If unsure, the best method is to take off the wires to all of the solenoid valves (take a photo first) and test them all.
They should all have the same reading. If they are all open circuit but the wash and rinse cycle is still working then clearly the meter you are using is not on the right setting or capable of reading such high resistance readings.
Some washing machines don’t have a separate softener valve
Some older washing machines didn't use a separate fabric softener water valve and could instead have a movable nozzle that directs water from a single cold valve into the fabric compartment.
As the program selector moves round there is a lever system that goes from the control selector to the top of the soap dispenser that moves as the program selector is turned. It's possible for this nozzle to jam, or the spring to come off meaning water cannot be directed into the fabric conditioner compartment.
Other causes of softener not being taken away
Sometimes the soap dispenser is bunged up with mould and a black jelly-like substance which can block the nozzles at the top.
However, this condition is more likely to cause the softener to be taken out too soon due to diverted water from rinsing straying into the softener compartment, but it’s worth checking. Take out the soap drawer and inspect the roof of the dispenser. If it’s full of black gunge maybe it’s deflecting water away from the small fabric compartment – Black jelly-like substance in soap dispenser and on soap drawer
Other than that, the softener valve might be faulty (open circuit) or not getting an electrical supply or neutral return.
More fabric softener articles and problems
Don’t get carried away
Over the years, even experienced appliance repairmen have been seriously injured or killed.