The Ultimate Buying Tips and Tricks to Choose The Best Fabric Softeners

There’s nothing quite like snuggling up in a freshly laundered, soft, and fluffy T-shirt or towel straight from the dryer, is there? But if your laundry isn’t feeling as soft and cozy as you’d like, it may be time to introduce fabric softener to your washing routine.

Fabric softener is a wonder product that you simply add to your washing machine or dryer to cover your laundry with a lubricating film. This magical film not only makes your clothes and linens feel softer and fluffier but also comes with other benefits, like a lovely fresh scent, reduced static, and wrinkle prevention. Fabric softener is available in different formulas, and the formula you choose will determine when you add it to your laundry.

What Are the Benefits of Fabric Softeners?

Fabric softeners are designed to make clothes and fabrics feel softer, smoother, and more comfortable to wear. They provide a variety of benefits, including:

  • Softness: The primary benefit of fabric softeners is their ability to soften clothes and fabrics. This makes them more comfortable to wear and reduces stiffness.
  • Reduces Static Cling: Fabric softeners also help to reduce static cling, which is particularly helpful during the winter months when fabrics tend to generate more static electricity. Generally, dryer sheets are more effective at fighting static than liquid fabric softeners. These sheets work by using positive ions to neutralize the negative ions that your laundry picks up during drying, preventing static buildup. Enjoy static-free clothes that are comfortable to wear without worrying about getting zapped!
  • Makes Ironing Easier: Fabric softeners can make ironing easier by reducing wrinkles and making fabrics more pliable. By loosening the fibers, fabric softeners prevent creases from forming or getting stuck in place during drying. With a wrinkle-reducing fabric softener, you might not even have to iron your clothes anymore, or you can have an easier time ironing since the iron will glide smoothly over the fabric. Say goodbye to stubborn wrinkles and hello to smoother, fuss-free clothes!
  • Long-Lasting Fragrance: Many fabric softeners are infused with fragrances that can provide a long-lasting scent to clothes and fabrics. With a range of scents like floral, fruit, and clean options, you can find a fragrance that matches your preferences. However, be mindful that most fabric softeners use chemical or artificial fragrances, which can irritate sensitive skin. If you have allergies or skin sensitivity issues, opt for unscented formulas to avoid any potential irritation. Rest assured that you can enjoy fresh, soft laundry without compromising your skin’s comfort.
  • Increases Durability: Softeners can also help extend the life of fabrics by reducing wear and tear caused by friction during washing and drying.

Overall, fabric softeners can improve the feel, smell, and durability of clothes and fabrics, making them a popular choice for many people.

Downy Infusions Laundry Fabric Softener Liquid

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What To Consider When Choosing Fabric Softeners?

When choosing a fabric softener, there are a few factors to consider to ensure you get the best product for your needs. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Fabric Types

Different types of fabrics may require different types of fabric softeners. Consider the type of fabric you’ll be softening. Some fabrics, such as towels or workout clothes, may benefit from a fabric softener that helps to maintain their absorbency, while others, like silk, may require a gentler formula. Here are some tips on choosing the right fabric softener for different fabric types:

  • Cotton: Cotton is a durable and absorbent fabric that can benefit from a liquid fabric softener. A fabric softener helps to reduce static, prevent wrinkles, and make cotton towels and sheets feel softer.
  • Synthetic fabrics: Synthetic fabrics, like polyester or nylon, do not absorb liquid fabric softeners well. Instead, consider using dryer sheets or fabric softener beads to soften synthetic fabrics and reduce static.
  • Delicate fabrics: Delicate fabrics, like silk or cashmere, require a gentle touch when it comes to fabric softeners. Look for a fabric softener that is specifically designed for delicate fabrics, and consider hand-washing delicate items to prevent damage.
  • Towels: Towels can become stiff and rough over time, especially if you live in an area with hard water. Use a liquid fabric softener in the washing machine to help keep towels soft and absorbent.
  • Baby clothes: Baby clothes require special care, and it’s important to choose a fabric softener that is gentle and hypoallergenic. Look for a fabric softener that is specifically designed for baby clothes, or consider skipping fabric softener altogether and using a vinegar rinse instead.

By choosing the right fabric softener for different fabric types, you can help keep your clothes and linens soft, fresh, and in good condition.


Fabric softener comes in different formulas, including liquid, sheets, and beads. Each formula has its own unique benefits and uses. Consider the type of formula that works best for your needs. Liquid fabric softeners are versatile and can be used in the washing machine or dryer, while dryer sheets are convenient and easy to use. Fabric softener beads are a newer option that can be added directly to the washing machine.

Liquid fabric softener is a popular choice that can be added to the washing machine during the rinse cycle or the dryer during the drying cycle. It helps to reduce static, make clothes feel softer and smell fresher. Liquid fabric softener is available in various scents and can also be used to freshen up towels and linens.

Fabric softener sheets are another popular option that can be added to the dryer. They work by releasing a lubricating film onto the fabric as it tumbles, which helps to reduce static, soften clothes, and add a fresh scent. Fabric softener sheets are available in different scents and can be reused a few times before being discarded.

Fabric softener beads are a newer type of formula that can be added directly to the washing machine. They dissolve during the wash cycle and release a lubricating film that helps to soften clothes, reduce static, and provide a fresh scent. Fabric softener beads are available in different scents and can be used with all types of laundry, including towels and linens.

When choosing a fabric softener formula, consider your laundry needs and personal preferences. Each formula has its own unique benefits, so it’s worth trying a few different types to see which one works best for you.


Fabric softeners can contain a range of ingredients, including both chemical and natural ingredients. Here are some things to consider when choosing between fabric softeners with chemical vs. natural ingredients:

Chemical fabric softeners:

Often contain synthetic fragrances and dyes, which can be irritating to those with sensitive skin
Can leave a residue on fabrics that can reduce absorbency
May contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment

Natural fabric softeners:

Use ingredients like plant-based oils, vinegar, or baking soda to soften fabrics
Are often hypoallergenic and free from synthetic fragrances and dyes
Are less likely to leave a residue on fabrics or harm the environment

If you’re concerned about the environmental impact or potential health effects of chemical fabric softeners, consider trying a natural fabric softener instead. Look for products that are made from natural ingredients and free from synthetic fragrances and dyes. Alternatively, you can use simple ingredients like vinegar or baking soda to soften fabrics and reduce static cling.


Fabric softeners come in a range of scents, from fresh and clean to floral or fruity.

Fabric softeners are available in a range of scents, from fresh and clean to floral or fruity. The scent you choose can have an impact on the overall scent of your laundry and your personal preferences. Here are some things to consider when choosing a fabric softener scent:

Choose a scent that appeals to you and complements your laundry.

Consider the type of laundry you’ll be using the fabric softener on. Some scents, like lavender or eucalyptus, can be soothing and relaxing on sheets and towels, while other scents, like citrus or floral, may be better suited for clothing.

If you or someone in your household has sensitive skin, look for fabric softeners that are free from synthetic fragrances and dyes.

Some fabric softener scents may clash with the scent of your laundry detergent. If you’re using a scented laundry detergent, consider choosing a fabric softener with a complementary scent or opting for an unscented fabric softener.

Remember that while fabric softener scents can add a pleasant fragrance to your laundry, they are not necessary for softening fabrics. If you prefer unscented laundry, consider using an unscented fabric softener or skipping fabric softener altogether and using a vinegar rinse instead.


Fabric softener sensitivity is a common concern for many people, especially those with sensitive skin or allergies. Some people may experience skin irritation, itching, or redness after using fabric softeners. Here are some tips for avoiding fabric softener sensitivity:

  • Choose a hypoallergenic fabric softener: Look for fabric softeners that are labeled as hypoallergenic or free from synthetic fragrances and dyes. These products are less likely to cause skin irritation or allergic reactions.
  • Use less fabric softener: Using too much fabric softener can increase the likelihood of skin irritation. Follow the instructions on the fabric softener bottle and use the recommended amount for your laundry load.
  • Opt for fragrance-free options: Synthetic fragrances can be irritating to some people. Consider using fragrance-free fabric softeners, or choose products with natural scents, like essential oils.
  • Use alternative softening methods: If you’re concerned about fabric softener sensitivity, consider using alternative softening methods, like adding a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle or using dryer balls.
  • Rinse clothes thoroughly: Make sure to rinse your clothes thoroughly after using fabric softener. Residue from fabric softener can remain on fabrics and irritate the skin.

By taking these steps, you can reduce the risk of fabric softener sensitivity and keep your laundry soft and comfortable. If you experience persistent skin irritation, it’s important to talk to a healthcare provider to rule out other underlying causes.

Water Absorbency Score

When using fabric softener, it’s important to keep in mind its potential impact on a fabric’s water absorbency. The film left behind by fabric softeners can reduce a fabric’s ability to hold water, which can be problematic for items like towels that are designed to be absorbent. To address this issue, many fabric softeners provide a water absorbency score based on ASTM wicking test standards.

This score ranges from 1 to 5, with 1 indicating a significant reduction in water absorbency and 5 indicating little to no impact on absorbency. To maintain the softness of your towels while also ensuring they remain absorbent, it’s recommended to choose a fabric softener formula with a water absorbency score of 3 or higher.

By paying attention to the water absorbency score of your fabric softener, you can enjoy soft and comfortable fabrics without compromising their functionality. This is especially important for items like towels, which need to be able to absorb water effectively in order to be useful.

HE Compatibility

Using a liquid fabric softener can be a great way to keep your laundry soft and comfortable, but it’s important to choose a formula that is compatible with your washing machine. In particular, if you have a high-efficiency (HE) washer, you’ll need to use a special HE fabric softener that is designed to wash away completely.

HE washers require a special detergent formula to avoid producing excess suds, and the same goes for fabric softeners. Using a non-HE formula can leave behind a film on your clothing and linens, which can reduce their softness and absorbency. To ensure that you’re using the right fabric softener for your HE washer, look for products that are labeled as HE-compatible.

By choosing a HE-compatible fabric softener, you can keep your laundry soft and comfortable without damaging your washing machine or leaving behind any unwanted residue. This is an important consideration for anyone with an HE washer, as using the wrong fabric softener can lead to performance issues and potentially costly repairs.

Environmental Impact

While fabric softeners provide various benefits to clothing and fabrics, their environmental impact can be a cause for concern. Here are some of the ways fabric softeners can impact the environment:

Chemicals: Fabric softeners often contain a range of chemicals, some of which may be harmful to the environment. These chemicals can potentially contaminate waterways and harm wildlife.

Packaging: Fabric softeners are typically sold in plastic bottles or containers, which can contribute to plastic waste and pollution.

Production: The production of fabric softeners can also have an environmental impact, with the manufacturing process requiring energy and water resources.

Use: The use of fabric softeners can also contribute to environmental harm. When released into wastewater, fabric softener chemicals can affect the quality of the water and harm aquatic life.

To reduce the environmental impact of fabric softeners, it’s important to choose products that are eco-friendly and free from harmful chemicals. You can also reduce your use of fabric softeners by using natural alternatives like vinegar or baking soda, or using dryer balls instead of fabric softener sheets. Finally, consider reducing the frequency of washing clothes and fabrics, which can help to reduce the amount of fabric softener used over time.

Is Fabric Softener Really Necessary?

Fabric softener is not a necessity for washing your clothes, but it can have some benefits. Fabric softeners work by coating the surface of the fabric with a layer of chemicals that make it feel softer and reduce static. This can be beneficial for certain fabrics like towels, which tend to feel rough and stiff after washing.

However, some people may not prefer using fabric softeners due to potential negative effects. Fabric softeners can contain chemicals that may irritate sensitive skin or cause allergic reactions. They can also leave a residue on your clothes and washing machine, which may not be desirable for some people.

In summary, fabric softener is not necessary for washing your clothes, but it can provide some benefits. If you decide to use fabric softener, it’s important to choose a product that is safe for you and the environment and to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Ultimately, it’s a personal preference whether or not to use fabric softener in your laundry routine.

What Fabric Should Not Be Used Fabric Softener?

While fabric softeners can be used on many types of fabric, there are a few fabrics that should not be treated with fabric softener. Here are some examples:

  • Athletic wear: Performance fabrics like spandex, elastane, or polyester are designed to wick moisture away from the skin, which helps keep you cool and dry. Fabric softeners can leave a coating on these fabrics that reduces their breathability and wicking properties, leading to reduced performance and odor buildup.
  • Flame-resistant clothing: Clothing made from flame-resistant materials like Nomex, Kevlar, or other aramid fibers should not be treated with fabric softeners. Fabric softeners can damage the integrity of the fabric, reducing its flame resistance and putting the wearer at risk.
  • Microfiber towels: Microfiber towels are commonly used for cleaning and detailing, and fabric softeners can reduce their effectiveness by clogging the fibers with chemicals. This can cause streaking and leave a residue on the surface being cleaned.

In general, it’s a good idea to check the care label on your clothing or household fabrics to see if fabric softeners are recommended or not. If in doubt, it’s best to avoid using fabric softeners on fabrics that are delicate, easily damaged, or specifically labeled as not suitable for use with fabric softeners.

What Can I Use Instead of Fabric Softeners?

If you prefer not to use fabric softeners or if you have sensitive skin or allergies, there are several alternatives you can use to achieve similar results. Here are some options:

  • White vinegar: Adding a half-cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle can help soften fabrics and reduce static. It can also help remove detergent buildup and odors.
  • Baking soda: Adding a half-cup of baking soda to the wash cycle can help soften fabrics and neutralize odors.
  • Wool dryer balls: Wool dryer balls can help soften fabrics and reduce static. They work by bouncing around in the dryer, separating the clothes, and allowing air to circulate more efficiently.
  • Air-drying: Letting your clothes air dry can be a great alternative to using a fabric softener. This is especially true for natural fibers like cotton and linen, which tend to get softer with each wash.
  • Liquid fabric softener alternative: There are some liquid fabric softener alternatives that are made from natural ingredients and are hypoallergenic. They work similarly to regular fabric softeners but without harsh chemicals.

Ultimately, the best alternative to fabric softener will depend on your personal preferences and the type of fabric you’re working with. It’s always a good idea to check the care label on your clothing or household fabrics to see what options are recommended or not recommended.

How Often Should I Use Fabric Softeners?

How often you should use fabric softeners will depend on a few factors, including your personal preferences and the type of laundry you’re doing. Here are some guidelines to help you determine how often to use fabric softeners:

  • Read the label: Check the label on your fabric softener to see if it recommends how often to use it. Some fabric softeners are designed to be used every time you do laundry, while others may recommend using it only every other wash or once a month.
  • Type of fabric: Consider the type of fabric you’re washing. Some fabrics, like towels and blankets, may benefit from more frequent use of fabric softeners to keep them soft and fluffy. Other fabrics, like athletic wear or flame-resistant clothing, should not be treated with fabric softeners at all.
  • Skin sensitivity: If you have sensitive skin or allergies, you may want to limit your use of fabric softeners to avoid irritation. In this case, you may want to use fabric softeners only occasionally or switch to a more natural alternative like white vinegar or baking soda.

In general, it’s a good idea to follow the instructions on your fabric softener label and adjust your use based on your personal preferences and laundry needs. If you notice that your clothes are becoming stiff or uncomfortable, you may want to increase your use of fabric softener, and if you notice any skin irritation, you may want to decrease your use or switch to an alternative.

When Is The Best Time To Add Fabric Softener Into Laundry?

The best time to add fabric softener to your laundry will depend on the type of washing machine you have. Here are some guidelines:

Top-loading washing machine: If you have a top-loading washing machine, you can add fabric softener during the rinse cycle. Most top-loading machines have a designated dispenser for fabric softeners, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Front-loading washing machine: For front-loading machines, it’s best to add fabric softener during the rinse cycle as well. However, instead of using the machine’s dispenser, you can add fabric softener manually by diluting it with water and pouring it into the dispenser drawer.

Hand washing: If you’re hand washing your clothes, you can add fabric softener to the final rinse water. Just dilute the fabric softener with water before adding it to the rinse.

In general, it’s best to add fabric softener during the rinse cycle to ensure that it’s evenly distributed throughout your laundry. If you add it during the wash cycle, it may not be as effective and can even leave stains on your clothes. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific washing machine and fabric softener to get the best results.

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