Why Add Fabric Softener To Toilet Tank?

There’s a bizarre trend circulating on social media that suggests adding fabric softener like Downy or Gain Fireworks to your toilet tank can improve the smell and overall freshness of your bathroom. 

While it might seem like a harmless, even innovative idea, we’re here to set the record straight and explain why this method is not only ineffective but potentially harmful to your toilet system!

What’s The Claim?

The idea behind using fabric softener in the toilet tank (as popularized by Facebook and TikTok users) is that it will help keep your toilet bowl clean and provide a pleasant scent every time you flush. 

Before you go pouring your favorite fabric softener into your toilet tank, it’s important to consider some potential drawbacks that we’ll discuss below. 

What Happens If You Put Fabric Softener In Your Toilet Tank?

A surprising number of people have considered using fabric softener in their toilet tanks as a makeshift air freshener, with the hope that it will leave a pleasant scent after each flush. 

While it’s true that fabric softener can sink to the bottom of the tank and release its fragrance for 2 to 3 flushes, this DIY method comes with a host of drawbacks that you should be aware of before giving it a try.

First and foremost, fabric softeners are not designed for use in toilet tanks. These products contain chemicals and surfactants specifically formulated for laundry purposes, which means they may not be safe or suitable for your plumbing system. 

Fabric softeners work by leaving a tiny coating on your fabrics which makes them smell nice, but at the same time can affect their washability and breathability — take the case of towels. 

In the same way, introducing fabric softener, being hydrophobic, or water hating like oil, will leave a build up of layers of coating in your pipe (because the very cold water temperature of the tank would allow them to easily do so) which overtime can build up and cause clogging or dissolution of seals or breakdown of plastic components. 

Another concern is the constituents of the fabric softener itself which is not environmentally friendly when flushed into the water system.

What Can You Put In Your Toilet Tank To Make It Smell Good?

Many people struggle with keeping their bathrooms smelling fresh, especially when it comes to the toilet. While using air fresheners and scented candles can help mask odors, there’s a more effective solution that targets the source of the problem – your toilet tank.


Yet again? 

Yes, Vinegar! 

A simple and natural way to keep your toilet tank smelling good is by adding 1 cup of white vinegar. 

Not only does vinegar eliminate unpleasant odors, but it also eliminates and prevents the buildup of bacteria and mineral deposits in your tank. 

Plus, it’s an eco-friendly option that won’t harm your plumbing or septic system., just that your toilet won’t have those floral notes of Downy all over the place, but won’t smell like a refuse base anyways! 

To use vinegar in your toilet tank:

  1. Turn off the water supply valve located behind or beside your toilet.
  2. Flush the toilet to empty most of the water from the tank.
  3. Carefully pour 1 cup of white vinegar into the remaining water in your tank.
  4. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes (or even overnight) before turning on the water supply valve again.
  5. Flush once more to rinse out any residual vinegar.

Alternative Options for Keeping Your Toilet Smelling Fresh

If you prefer not to use vinegar, find that method stressing or are looking for additional ways to maintain a pleasant bathroom aroma, consider these options:

  • Toilet Bowl Fresheners: These handy products clip onto the rim of your bowl and release a pleasant scent with each flush. You can also use a scented candle. 
  • Essential Oils: Add a few drops of essential oils like lavender or eucalyptus directly into your toilet tank for an aromatic boost every time you flush.
  • Automatic Toilet Cleaners: Many brands offer automatic cleaning tablets that you drop into your toilet tank; these tablets dissolve slowly over time, releasing cleaning agents and fresh scents with each flush.

Is Putting Detergent in Your Toilet Tank a Good Idea?

You might be wondering if detergent can be added to your toilet tank for cleaning since fabric softeners are a big no! 

It’s true that detergents can create foam and give the illusion of a cleaner toilet, but there are several reasons why this practice may not be the best idea for your bathroom.

The Foamy Factor

Adding detergent to your toilet tank can indeed create a lot of foam, which might seem like it’s doing an excellent job at cleaning. 

However, appearances can be deceiving. The foam produced by the detergent doesn’t necessarily mean that your toilet is getting any cleaner than it would with regular flushing — just a waste of detergent, and you’re better off with a powerful toilet cleaner specifically targeted at the kind of dirt and grime of a toilet bowl! 

Septic System Concerns

If you have a septic system, introducing detergents into your toilet tank could potentially cause harm to the delicate balance of bacteria needed for proper functioning. Surfactants found in many detergents can damage these bacterial colonies, leading to potential issues with waste breakdown and even system failure.

Quick Dissolving Nature

Detergent is designed to dissolve quickly in water – even cold water – which means that it won’t stick around long enough in your toilet tank to provide any lasting benefits for freshness and scent, if that was the reason for putting it in there to begin with. In all likelihood, most of the detergent will simply wash away during the first flush, rendering its presence virtually pointless.

Alternative Cleaning Solutions

Rather than resorting to putting detergent in your toilet tank, consider using specialized cleaning products designed specifically for toilets (like harpic, domestos and hypo) or implementing natural alternatives like vinegar and baking soda. 

These options are better suited for maintaining a clean and functional bathroom without risking damage to septic systems or wasting resources on ineffective methods.