Fabric softeners smooth and coat fibers to help fabrics feel softer, combat wrinkles, reduce static and add a fresh fragrance to your laundry. Always check the care label of each clothing item before use.
What does fabric softener do and
which type is best for me?
Fabric softeners work by depositing lubricants, either natural or synthetic, on fabrics to help soften fibers which may become rough over time from wear and tear.
Types of Fabric Softeners
Liquid Fabric Softener
Great for when you have a built-in dispenser in your washer, or can be added manually during the final rinse cycle.
Dryer Sheets & Dryer Balls
An easy toss-and-go option to add to your load at the start of a dryer cycle.
Learn more about how dryer sheets and dryer balls work.
Powder Fabric Softener
This variety exists, but is much less common. Can be added to your rinse cycle according to individual packaging instructions.
Know the difference between
Fabric Softener vs. Fabric Conditioner
Fabric softeners help to soften and freshen fabrics, while fabric conditioners do more to protect fibers, helping prevent fading, stretching and pilling.
Why do some clothes say
“no fabric softener”?
Certain fabrics respond better to fabric softeners than others. Avoid using liquid softener and dryer sheets on the following materials and always check the care label on each item before use.
Athleticwear & Microfiber
Using softeners may leave behind a coating that interferes with the moisture wicking and stain absorbing technology of these fabrics.
Though using fabric softeners on towels may seem like a natural fit, it can reduce the absorbency of the fabric, hindering its ability to soak up water.
Using softener in moderation won’t effect absorbency as much and some may feel the trade off of slight reduction in absorbance is worth the softened touch or fragrance.
Items like kids’ sleepwear are flame-resistant for safety, but fabric softeners may coat the fibers, reducing their ability to self-extinguish.
Softeners can prevent these fibers from repelling water as designed, impacting their effectiveness.
Consider natural, more allergy-friendly alternatives
If you have fragrance or dye allergies, be aware that some liquid fabric softeners and dryer sheets can cause adverse skin reactions in those with sensitivities.
For a gentler method of softening clothes and reducing odors, add ½ cup (for a large load) of white vinegar to your rinse cycle when the tub is full of water.
HOW DO I USE FABRIC SOFTENER?
It’s important to use the right amount of fabric softener for the best results. Using too much liquid softener or an excessive amount of dryer sheets can result in product build-up on your clothes or appliances. As there can be some variance in dosing based on brand and variety, you can find out how much softener is right for your load by looking at the individual packaging.
For liquid or powder softener start by measuring out the correct amount for your load, as indicated on the fabric softener packaging.
Add liquid fabric softener into the designated softener dispenser at the start of your wash, if available on your washing machine. Check your owner’s manual for specifics.
If your washer doesn’t have a dispenser, add liquid or powder fabric softener manually during the final rinse cycle when the tub is full of water. Do not add during the wash cycle, as it will rinse away the effects of the softener.
For your dryer, simply add dryer sheets and dryer balls at the start of the cycle. Reference the packaging for correct usage.
Avoid staining or spotting when
manually adding liquid softener
Pour softener into open pockets of water where there is space around clothes, avoiding direct contact with fabrics. This helps prevent staining from oily components often present in liquid softeners.
Get More Great Laundry Tips
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How to Use a Top Load Washer Sorting laundry, adding detergent, loading your clothes, adding fabric softener and selecting a wash cycle are the first steps in using a top load washer.