Laundry day usually involves baskets brimming with clothes, a massive detergent container, and a fragrant fabric softener. While we may consider the last indispensable, some think fabric softener makes little to no difference in their final result when it comes to their laundry. But what does fabric softener actually do? Fabric softener is designated to keep our laundry as soft to the touch as possible while reducing wrinkles and adding a “clean” scent, so now we’re no longer dealing with a smelly pile of socks. Fabric softener also serves to reduce static cling by lowering any friction that may exist between fibers, making our clothes last longer.
It does all of this by using lubricating chemicals that act on the threads. Early softeners used oil, while modern-day brands have more synthetic chemicals like polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). Basically, a fabric softener is a kind of moisturizer for our laundry. So why would some people prefer not to use it? Fabric softener can have some side-effects. Like laundry detergent, some liquid fabric softeners contain chemicals that can irritate our skin. If you prefer to use dryer sheets instead, the material may clog the dryer filter. Dryer balls are probably the most convenient type of fabric softener, but they can leave our clothes feeling stiff. Choosing to use a fabric softener can also depend on what kind of clothes we’re washing.
If we have a lot of athletic gear with moisture-absorbing qualities, fabric softener may “jam” the material, reducing its ability to move moisture away from the skin. It’s also not a good option for towels, as it has the potential to reduce their absorbency. It’s also not advisable to use fabric softener on polyester, nylon, or infant clothing, often made from flame-resistant materials affected by the softener. If you’re still unsure whether or not you should be using a fabric softener at all, try dividing your washing into two loads of laundry, using one with a fabric softener and one without seeing if you notice any difference. If not, then you can probably get by without the additive. Have you got a burning question you’d like us to write about? If so, let us know.