Sometimes the fabric softener doesn’t seem to work properly. The laundry isn’t softened and doesn’t have the normal fabric softener smell. This can be because it’s being taken into the machine too soon – often during the early rinses – and is therefore rinsed away from the laundry. It’s usually caused by stray water going into the conditioner compartment and starting the siphoning process.
In order to understand this problem it’s necessary to know how the system works. The conditioner is flushed out of its compartment with water, either from a dedicated water valve or by redirecting cold water used on rinses into the compartment via a moving nozzle on top of the dispenser. Once all the conditioner has been flushed into the machine the remaining water should siphon away up through the small plastic tube at the back of the compartment.
So when the water level, or even fabric conditioner level spills over the top of the small compartment it’s held in the siphoning process designed to get rid of the remaining water is triggered causing the conditioner itself to siphon up this tube and into the machine.
Therefore, quite small amounts of extra water getting into the fabric conditioner compartment can start it off siphoning during the wash or rinses, well before it should be taken it (not usually until the last or penultimate rinse).
Fabric conditioner gets taken out too soon?
Common problems are mould and gunge in the top of the soap dispenser causing water to spray over into the fabric conditioner compartment, or high water pressure causing water to stray into the fabric conditioner compartment. Also, if fitted, a jammed soap dispenser nozzle on washing machines with a directional nozzle operated by a lever can cause this fault (this nozzle system is described in more detail in this article – fabric conditioner not being taken out).
Don’t over fill the fabric conditioner compartment. Observe the maximum level indicator which is usually a thin line inside the compartment. Filling the fabric conditioner compartment too high and slamming it shut can cause the fabric softener liquid to spill over the top and this will start the siphoning process.
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