When it comes to laundry, the comfort, appearance, and smell of our clothes depend on more than just the detergent we use. One additional product that can greatly enhance our laundry experience is fabric softener. Fabric softeners are specialised formulas designed to make our clothes feel softer, smell better, and be less prone to static. But with so many types and brands on the market, how do we know which one to choose and when to use them? In this guide, we delve into the world of fabric softeners, explaining their benefits, types, and uses.
What even is fabric Softeners?
Fabric softeners are essentially a mixture of chemicals that coat the fibers of your clothes. This coating gives your clothes a smoother feel, reduces static, and imparts a pleasant fragrance. The science behind it is quite simple - static charge builds up in your clothes due to excess electrons, and fabric softeners, being positively charged, balance this out, preventing static.
The Different Types of Fabric Softeners
There are three main types of fabric softeners available in the market:
- Liquid Fabric Softeners: These are added to your washing machine during the rinse cycle. As the clothes are rinsed, the fabric softener coats the wet fibers of your clothes, leaving them soft and fragrant. Some even contain chemicals that help prevent your clothes from fading, stretching, and pilling.
- Dryer Sheets: These sheets are made of synthetic fabric that's coated with a fabric softener. When you toss one into your dryer, the heat melts the softener, which coats your clothes, making them feel softer.
- Dryer Balls: Unlike the previous two, dryer balls don’t leave a chemical coating on your clothes. Instead, they work by repeatedly hitting your clothes as they tumble in the dryer, reducing fabric stiffness and removing lint. They also help balance out the electrons and ions in your clothes, reducing static.
Before You Use Fabric Softeners
Before you toss in that fabric softener, take a minute to check the care label of your clothes. This is because the chemicals in fabric softeners can alter the performance of some types of fabric. They leave a film on the fabric which can affect things like fire resistance, breathability, and moisture-wicking.
Warning: Fabrics to Avoid Using Fabric Softeners On
Certain fabrics should not be treated with fabric softeners. These include:
- Flame-resistant clothing, especially children's pyjamas. The softener reduces the fabric's ability to self-extinguish.
- Water-repellant fabrics. Softeners reduce their performance.
- Microfiber cleaning towels. The polyester and nylon in these towels bond with the oils and conditioners in the softener, reducing their absorbency over time.
- Athletic wear. Softeners reduce their moisture-wicking performance.
- Microfiber fleece and compression garments. Softeners reduce their breathability.
For these types of fabrics, consider using natural fiber wool or hemp dryer balls to reduce static.
The Sustainable Alternative: Hemp Dryer Balls
For the environmentally conscious, there is an alternative to traditional fabric softeners - hemp dryer balls. These balls are made from natural hemp fibers and offer a sustainable and high-quality alternative to regular fabric softeners. They offer five times more absorption than wool due to the nature of the hemp fibers and give a great soft feeling to clothes while reducing static.
In summary, fabric softeners can greatly enhance your laundry experience, making your clothes feel softer, smell better, and less prone to static. However, it’s important to know when and how to use them, and what alternatives are available. By making informed choices, you can keep your clothes at their best and contribute to a more sustainable future.