It should come as no surprise that fabric softener is designed to make your clothes feel extra soft and fresh. But what you may not know is that softener comes in a few different forms, each with its pros and cons. Yes, softeners are simple to use but there are a few key details you should be aware of. Below we’ll run through the in’s and out’s of fabric softener and how to properly use it.
What Does Fabric Softener Do?
Fabric softener is a conditioner that can be added to your wash & fold load in order to soften your clothes and keep them from wrinkling.
Softeners can also help your clothes last longer as they create less static cling among the fibers, which reduces friction and creates less wear and tear during the washing process. In addition, some fabric softeners come pre-scented so it’s an easy way to add a bit of freshness to your laundry.
However, not all softeners are the same. Nowadays, you’ll most likely use one of three fabric softener options. Let’s take a look at each one and how they are different.
Liquid Fabric Softener
Of the three main options, liquid softener is the most expensive but it typically does the best job of freshening up your clothes. That is because the liquid is able to penetrate the fabrics of your clothing during the wash cycle. The downside to liquid softener is that the liquid can cause buildup in your washing machine and sometimes it can leave a stain on your clothes.
Dryer sheets are small sheets coated with stearic acid and fresh scents among a few other chemicals. When the dryer heat ensues, the stearic acid melts and makes its way onto your clothes, which reduces static and leaves them feeling nice and soft.
Dryer sheets are relatively inexpensive compared to liquid softeners and extremely easy to use - all you have to do is pop one or two in the dryer and you’re all set!
Dryer balls are wool balls that you can add to the dryer to help soften and freshen up your clothes. Additionally, dryer balls have added benefits such as speeding up the drying process. Because the balls are wool, they are able to absorb the moisture on the clothes and help them to dry quicker.
Since dryer balls are round and can move around better than dryer sheets, they are typically more effective relative to dryer sheets. Nevertheless, both are viable options if you are looking for an alternative to liquid softener.
When should I use fabric softener?
In general, it’s always a good idea to add fabric softener to your laundry. Most fabrics can handle the softener and your laundry will come out softer, fresher, and wrinkle free. However, there are a few types of clothes with which you should think twice about using fabric softeners.
Most athletic gear isn’t very compatible with fabric softener. That is because many items are meant to soak up moisture while you workout and softeners may clog the fabric apertures, which can negate the moisture-wicking of the garment in the future.
To that end, other water-proof garments may not be very compatible. Additionally, other types of garments and fabrics meant to help with absorption, such as towels, may be negatively affected by fabric softener over time. It’s worth keeping an eye out on your towels - if you find they are taking more than one normal cycle to dry, then it may be time to reconsider their exposure to fabric softener.
Overall, fabric softener is a great addition to your laundry room and it will certainly leave your clothes smelling fresh and feeling soft!