Downy is a brand-name fabric softener available almost anywhere. The purpose of fabric softener is to prevent static cling and, of course, make your clothing softer. Fabric softener can also add a scent to your laundry; Downy has a number of scents available, in addition to perfume- and dye-free varieties.
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Top-Loading Machine with Dispenser
If your top-loading washing machine has a dispenser, a cup-like device in the central column, add the right amount of Downy fabric softener at the same time as your laundry detergent. During the spin cycle, the fabric softener will be pushed out of the cup, and the softener will dissolve and be distributed in the rinse water as the water rises.
Top-Loading Machine without Dispenser
When your top-loading washing machine does not have an automatic dispenser, add your Downy fabric softener during the rinse cycle. It is important to wait until the rinse cycle because if you don't, the laundry detergent will clean away most of the fabric softener. Some washing machines make a sound when it hits the rinse cycle; with others you can tell by the dial. When adding the Downy, avoid getting it directly on the clothing, as it might stain.
If your washing machine doesn't have an automatic dispenser and you don't want to wait for the rinse cycle, you can use the Downy Ball dispenser. Pour the right amount of Downy in the ball, pull the ring to close it, and place it in with your clothes at the beginning of the load. The rinse cycle will pop the lid, releasing the fabric softener at the correct time.
There is a built-in automatic fabric softener dispenser in front-loading washers. Simply add your Downy fabric softener at the beginning of the load when you add the laundry detergent. The softener will be released during the rinse cycle. Per the Downy website, never use the Downy Ball in a front-loading washing machine.