Why is Fabric Softener left in the soap drawer of the Washing Machine?

Its a very common complaint to find some Fabric Softener remaining in the soap
drawer on a washing machine.
First of all you will need to ensure the soap drawer is regularly cleaned in order to
avoid any build up of either fabric softener or washing powder. If necessary, check
your Manufacturer’s handbook for directions, but it should be very simple to remove
the whole soap drawer. Not only do you need to thoroughly clean the soap drawer
itself, but also clean the area in the machine, underneath and around where the soap
drawer fits.

You will be surprised to find how sticky this area can be. Untreated it can also lead
to a stale smell emanating from your machine. In fact, if you do notice an unpleasant
smell, this is a quick and easy way to check and eliminate the source of the odour.

How does it work:

Some people are very keen to understand how their washing machine manages the
various processes required to carry out any of the programmes available on your
washing machine. This is a quick explanation of this particular process:

  • You will need to add the fabric conditioner to the specified compartment in the
    soap drawer - check in your Manufacturer’s handbook if you are not sure how
    to identify the corrrect compartment for this purpose. The conditioner will not
    be drawn from the soap drawer until the final rinse cycle of each programme.
  • Once the programme has reached the final rinse cycle, the machine will call
    for the fabric conditioner. The fabric conditioner will automatically be drawn
    through, along with the incoming clean water, into the drum of the washing
  • Once all the water is drained from the compartment, it will be left empty until
    you need to use the washing machine again.

Its very clear from the above that this is a very simple procedure and has no moving
parts that will wear out or breakdown.

There are really only a few ways for water to be introduced in the fabric conditioner
compartment of the washing machine. One way is via the dedicated valve which
controls the water into the correct compartment of your machine.

Another option is
by a diverter system which is either mechanically controlled, or manually controlled if
you have a much older machine, or by using a dual fill water valve.

Water Valves

The first option identified above was commonly used across all models and makes
of washing machines, but due to greater efficiencies and reductions in cost sought
by manufacturers, this has been more of less phased out. One of the benefits to the
user of this change is there is one less part to fail.

There are obviously advantages to this method, including filling via a valve will
often work on a lower water pressure. A three-way valve would be required –
one for filling through the pre-wash compartment, one for filling through the main
wash compartment and, of course, one for filling through the fabric conditioner
compartment. As stated above, the fabric conditioner compartment will not be
activated until the final rinse cycle.

It stands to reason that if a fault develops whereby the fabric conditioner still remains
in the soap drawer when a wash cycle has been completed, that its fairly obvious the
valve is responsible.

If you decide to carry out the repair yourself, you will need to replace the complete
three-way valve However, a good Service Engineer will probably only need to
replace the component within the valve which governs the dispensing of water into
the fabric conditioner. As always the choice is yours and will be down to whether
you are happy to carry out the work yourself, against the cost of a Service Engineer
for the smaller repair.

The method used on older machines and possibly on the lower priced machines, is a
two valve system controlled by water pressure.
Simply, only one valve is actioned for the main wash, and when the cycle moves
to the rinse cycle the second valve is opened and water is delivered from both
valves at the same time, the pressure of both valves then forces water into the fabric
conditioner compartment.

A fault is very easily diagnosed if fabric conditioner is left in the soap drawer at the
completion of a cycle, as it will immediately indicate one valve has failed. However,
you will also need to check your water pressure as it is possible that it is too low to
force the water into the correct compartment.

If the water pressure is satisfactory, your options for replacing the part are as above,
i.e. carrying out the work yourself if you are comfortable to do this, or call in a
recommended Service Engineer.

Water left in fabric softener compartment

If you find you have water left in the fabric softener compartment at the end of a
wasy and you have a new machine, it may be that the machine is not completely
level and you will need to adjust the feet slightly to correct the level.

If this does not solve the problem, you could try adjusting the front feet of the
machine very slightly, so it is just tipping backwards. This may resolve the issue.
It is a very good idea to check that the machine has been installed correctly and
is perfectly level before your call you manufacturer under the Warranty, as if the
problem is caused by the installation, it will not be covered under the terms of your
Warranty and you may be charged for any service call.

On an older machine, the problem is more likely to be caused by a clogged soap
drawer, as detailed at the beginning of this article.

Disclaimer: The information provided has been prepared as a guide only and the steps taken are likely to vary for different appliance models. We strongly recommend using a qualified engineer to undertake major repairs and fault finding.


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