Why we don’t recommend fabric softeners.
Fabric softeners might seem like the easy way to get soft, fluffy towels – but they’re not without their downsides. Here’s why we think you should avoid them, plus how you can get soft laundry without forking out for a bottle of fabric softener.
Fabric softeners can react with laundry detergent in the water, resulting in a waxy residue called “scrud”. This can build up in unseen parts of your washing machine and may damage it or contaminate laundry – so it’s important to use the correct dose and to dilute the softener before adding it to the dispenser.
Fabric softeners might make your towels less absorbent. To create a feeling of softness, chemicals make the fabric strands fluff up. The downside, according to our past tests, is that “softer” textiles absorb less water. A soft towel isn’t much good if you can’t dry yourself.
Then there’s the fire risk. Cuddly PJs are comforting on cold winter nights, but flame-resistant fabrics, such as those in children’s pyjamas, may become more flammable when coated in softener (re-washing the fabric without softener may restore flame resistance).
If you want softer laundry:
Tip: Our database of 32 washing machines will help you choose one that’s good at rinsing while still being water-efficient.