Why Fabric Softener Is Bad for Your Laundry.....and What to Use Instead

Laundry experts agree that fabric softener is a waste of time and money. Not only can it irritate sensitive skin, but it can also leave a layer of residue on your clothes and reduce the absorption of your towels. Fabric softeners work by depositing a layer of electrically charged chemical compounds on fabric. This coating causes the fibers on clothes to fluff up, thus making fabric feel softer and gentler on the skin. They also neutralize electric charge, which is what makes your clothes shock you or cling together. However, those things come at a cost — fabric softener can reduce flame resistance on children’s sleepwear, and the residue buildup in the washing machine can promote an atmosphere ripe for mildew. It can even diminish the ability of your workout clothes to absorb sweat. So, what can you use in place of fabric softener? If it’s fragrance you’re after, consider getting a scented laundry detergent. You can also take your favorite fragrance, spray it on a paper towel, and put it in the drawer with your clothes. If static is a concern, compress a piece of aluminum foil into a smooth ball with no sharp edges and toss it into the dryer with your laundry. The foil will discharge static buildup and prevent clothes from sticking together. If your clothes are coming out of the wash stiff, it means you likely have hard water. The ideal solution is to install a water softening system, but if that’s not an option, just buy some wool dryer balls. They soften clothes by lightly beating up against them in the dryer.