The Pros and Cons of Using Fabric Softener

Should you use fabric softener on your laundry?


Fabric softener is a staple in many households, promising soft, fresh-smelling laundry.

Typically, fabric softeners are composed of three primary ingredients; a conditioning agent, an emulsifier, and cosmetic elements like coloring and fragrance. Additionally, it contains various stabilisers and preservatives to extend its shelf life.

In this article we explore the pros and cons of using fabric softener, the different types available, and find out when it might be better to skip it altogether. 

Pros of Using Fabric Softener

Pros of Using Fabric Softener


The primary appeal of fabric softener is, of course, the softness it imparts to your laundry items. It reduces stiffness, making everything feel cozy and comfortable.

Fresh Scent

Fabric softeners often come with pleasant fragrances that can leave your laundry smelling fresh and clean for days.

Reduced Static

No one enjoys that annoying static cling! Fabric softeners help to reduce static electricity, making it easier to separate and fold your laundry.

Fewer Wrinkles

Fabric softeners can help minimise wrinkles, making ironing a bit less of a chore (or even unnecessary for some items).

Cons of Using Fabric Softener

Cons of Using Fabric Softener


Over time, fabric softener can build up on your clothes and in your washing machine, potentially causing residue and reducing the fabric’s absorbency.

Sensitivity Issues

Some people have skin sensitivities or allergies to the chemicals and fragrances in fabric softeners.

Not Eco-Friendly

Many fabric softeners contain non-biodegradable ingredients, which can be harmful to the environment.

Impact on Performance Fabrics

Fabric softeners can negatively affect the performance of moisture-wicking and flame-resistant fabrics, making them less effective.

When Not to Use Fabric Softener

When Not to Use Fabric Softener


Fabric softener can reduce the absorbency of towels, making them less effective at drying you off.

Performance Wear

Moisture-wicking fabrics used in sportswear can lose their effectiveness with fabric softener use.

Baby Clothes

The chemicals in fabric softeners can irritate a baby’s sensitive skin and reduce the effectiveness of flame-resistant clothing.

Microfiber Cloths

Fabric softeners can clog the fibers of microfiber cloths, reducing their cleaning ability.

Alternatives to fabric softeners

Alternatives to fabric softeners

Distilled White Vinegar

This household staple can be a great alternative to fabric softener.

Add half a cup to the rinse cycle to soften fabrics and reduce static. It’s natural, inexpensive, and helps remove detergent residue.

DIY Fabric Softener Recipes

If vinegar isn’t cutting the mustard, here are some DIY fabric softener recipes you can try.

While they might not work quite as well as many commercial products, you’ll know exactly what’s going into your wash.

Here are a few tried-and-true recipes:

DIY Recipe #1 – Vinegar and Baking Soda

  • 6 cups vinegar
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 10 drops essential oil

How to make it:

  1. Pour the vinegar into a large bowl.
  2. Add your favorite essential oil.
  3. Slowly add the baking soda and let it stand until the fizzing stops.
  4. Use one cup per load in the rinse cycle.

DIY Recipe #2 – Epsom Salt Softener

  • 1 cup Epsom salt or coarse sea salt
  • 15 drops of your favorite essential oil
  • ¼ cup baking soda

How to make it:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Use a few tablespoons in the rinse cycle for soft, fresh-smelling laundry.


Fabric softener can be a great addition to your laundry routine, providing softness, freshness, and static reduction. However, it’s important to be mindful of the potential downsides, such as build-up, skin sensitivities, and environmental impact. Consider using alternatives.

Disclaimer: The advice provided in this blog post is meant for general informational purposes only. Always refer to the care instructions provided by the manufacturer for your specific laundry machines and clothing items.

Related articles

Your complete guide to washing towels

What to expect from this guide Believe it or not, the frequency at which you wash your towels can have a significant impact on your health. This...

read more
The Ultimate Guide to Washing Doonas & Quilts

Firstly, what is a doona? Doonas, are also known as comforters, quilts or duvets. A doona is a type of bedding that consists of a soft, quilted,...

read more