Does Fabric Softener Clean Clothes?

Plenty of people out there use Fabric softeners to clean their clothes. What they may not be aware of is that the softeners will neither remove the dirt nor sweat. So unless you use detergents to remove dirt and germs, you will be wasting your time washing your fabric with softener cleaners.

Fabric softener cleaners will only make your clothes smell good and feel soft. They come in both sheets and liquid forms for the dryer and washing machines, respectively. The softener cannot be used on all types of clothes. Therefore it may be necessary that you check first before using it on clothes.

Does Fabric Softener Clean Clothes
Does Fabric Softener Clean Clothes

Other than keeping your clothes and fabric soft, the softener will remove wrinkles and keep them static-free. Besides, the results you get vary depending on the type. But the liquid softeners give better results compared to the dryer sheet types. Note that the dryer balls are preferred because they are convenient but will make the clothes feel scratchy. However, as you use the softeners, beware that they can leave the clothes less resistant to water since it wears them down. If used on towels, it reduces its effectiveness to absorb fluids and reduces the moisture-wicking abilities.

Can I Use Fabric Softener Instead Of Laundry Detergent?

Laundry detergents and fabric softeners are two different things; they are formulated to serve different purposes. Detergents remove dirt, sweat, oils, debris, and stains while the softener protects and keeps the clothes in good condition even after multiple times of washing. So it may not make sense to replace the detergents with softeners.

Notice that detergents consist of enzymes and will remove both dirt and bacteria from the clothes. Also, it removes stains and dirt from the garments. At the same time, it is formulated to preserve the color of the garment. Basically, detergents contain the following ingredients:

  • Alkalis – they react with stains and help to remove them
  • Sulfate- they leave the dirt suspended in water and stops it from getting reattached onto the garment. 
  • Catalytic Enzyme- they break down dirt and ensure that it dissolves in water.
  • Also, detergents contain preservatives, water conditioners, and pH modifiers that prevent hard water from damaging the textile.

On the other hand, softeners strengthen the clothes and protect the fabric. They reduce friction when washing and contain the following ingredients:

  • Conditioning agent- helps to give the fabric softness by preventing static.
  • Emulsifier- they make any oil found on the garment soluble in water.
  • Preservatives- they help to keep the formula in the softener stable.
  • Fragrances-they gives softeners the nice scent we all love.

So it may not be possible to use softeners in the place of detergents because they do not include any cleaning agents like alkalies and enzymes that help to remove the dirt.

What Happens If You Put Fabric Softener Directly On Clothes?

Fabric softener is proven to serve more than one purpose while laundering. It softens the garments, gives them the scent, and makes them last longer.  Applying softeners directly on clothes should be discouraged because it leaves waxy spots and oils that may get embedded and will be difficult to remove. Also, you should avoid overloading the laundry machine with softeners so that water can easily circulate and distribute both the detergent and the softener in the machine. It also stops the softener from staining the clothes. 

Also, putting too much softener on the towels reduces their absorbent rate. It implies that they will not absorb as much water to help leave your body dry. Instead, use vinegar and baking powder during rinsing to keep the towels fresh. 

You may not use softeners on certain fabrics such as pajamas, flameproof clothes, wicking sports gear, and polyester. Also, it may not be a good idea to use softeners on a baby’s clothes because kids are sensitive to harsh chemicals and regular detergents.  Just use vinegar and detergent on the baby’s clothes.

Thus applying softeners directly on clothing will leave it with stains or make them waxy. It becomes difficult to wash and remove the stains.

What To Use As An Alternative To The Softener?

The feeling of the soft fabrics is always pleasant.  Indeed, scratchy fiber could be discomforting when you wear the clothes. So many people use public softeners that make the garments soft and give them a fantastic smell. Unfortunately, most of the softeners are toxic and may affect your skin. Also, they are not environmentally friendly. So there is a need to look at the other alternatives you can use. Here are some of the options you have.

Baking soda

It can soften water, especially if the water is loaded with calcium. Also, it reduces static that makes the clothes sticky. A quarter cup of baking soda can be added to the machine but allow it time to dissolve before you add the clothes.

Use a towel

Once you wash the clothes, put a clean towel into the dryer alongside the wet clothes. The towel helps to reduce static and soften the fabric. It is cost-effective and will give you the desired results without even spending money.

Aluminum foil

Crumple the foils into a ball and throw it in the dryer. It reduces static cling and softens the clothes. But ensure you remove all sticking edges on the foil as they are likely to damage any soft fabric.

Drying the clothes in the open

Hanging the clothes on the line makes them retain softness, especially if you washed them using baking soda. Also, it eliminates static since the clothes will not be dried in a dryer.

Including the tennis ball in the dryer

When you put the tennis ball in the drier, it serves the same purpose as the dryer sheet. It makes the dresses have less static cling and helps keep the fabric looking softer and better. If you washed the clothes with detergent to remove the dirt, they would be soft and comfortable to wear.

Which is Better, the Dryer Sheets, Liquid Fabric Softener, Or Dryer Balls?

Softeners come in three types: the dyer balls, the liquid fabric softener, and the dyer sheets. These three kinds of softeners are not equal and perform different functions. The liquid softeners are effective in softening the clothes and removing the odors.  Even though the liquid softener is more expensive, it is laced with chemicals that irritate the skin. The dryer sheets are considered a better option since they are less costly and convenient. But the dry balls are the most affordable and are eco-friendly. They are made of BPA-free plastic and wool, so they will leave your clothes feeling less scratchy.

Although adding fabric softeners is good, they cannot be used on all materials. Fabrics used in workout clothes are moisture-wicking and do not like softeners. So avoid using softeners on them.   Fabric softeners will also wear out water-resistant materials meaning that they reduce their absorbency rate.

What Should One Do If They Accidentally Use Softeners Instead Of Detergents?

The hustles of the life we lead mean that we try to multi-task to save on time. As you do this, you are likely to pour the softener into the detergent slot in your laundering machine. You will panic and get confused. But the good news is that there is no need to panic since the softener will not damage your clothes if you rewash them.  Perhaps the only thing that will be wasted is the water and the softener.

How Should You Use Fabric Softener and Laundry Detergent?

The laundry results you get will depend on how you use the fabric softener and the detergent. It is easier for anyone to use a modern machine since they come with different compartments for detergent and softeners. Basically, you will need to fill the right compartment with the respective product, and you will be good to go.

Besides, you may need to check the compartment to ensure that the detergent is getting released in every washing cycle. Also, the softener should be released in the final rinse. But if you are using the older machine, you may need to add the laundry manually. Please start with some detergent before loading the machine with the softener during the final rinse cycle.

Anyone who chooses to hand washes the clothes using water and detergent should ensure that the detergent is rinsed away before using the softener. They should then add the softener to fresh water and give it a final rinse.

Although the softeners and fabric detergents are packaged almost in a similar manner, they serve a different purpose. You must always remember that the detergent is formulated to remove dirt, any buildups, stains, oils, and grease, while softeners will make your clothes less static and feel soft.  But remember that softeners should not be used on all types of garments. Specifically, they will ruin your sports gear and make them not serve the purpose. So you will need to exercise caution as you select the garments to wash with the softeners.

Annika Vallgren

The old housewives, in general, were in charge of everything in a household. From doing budget deliberations, meal planning to implementing actions and everything in between, they are simply the right person for the job, period. A major portion of their time was spent doing laundry, cleaning, and feeding her hungry children, who would come home tired from school. I believe we have a lot to learn from her. So, here you will find old housewife tips mixed with modern life hacks, knowledge about washing and cleaning, and much more the modern housewife needs!

Recent Posts