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Overall score includes:
Water absorbency (40%)
To test fabric softeners, we wash cotton swatches, with cotton sheets and pillowcases to approximate a typical load of washing. We put the load through a regular wash with just laundry detergent. We then run the top-loader machine on a rinse-and-spin cycle with the fabric softener. The swatches are dried and their softness and absorption are tested.
We get 10 people to test softness by using a paired method where each person is presented with two swatches and asked which is softer. A product scores a point if it’s softer than its paired product. The softeners are then ranked by their total score. All the products in the test are compared against each other.
We also test for water absorbency of the swatches because fabric softeners tend to reduce the water absorbency of fabrics as a side effect of the making them feel soft. We use a dyed solution in a beaker and place a swatch into it. The dyed solution can then be seen travelling up the swatch, the further it travels, the better the water absorbency, which means the higher we score it.