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When should you use fabric softener?

Fabric softener can be a very useful addition to your laundry routine, but it shouldn’t be used all the time. So, when should you use fabric softener?

  • What is fabric softener?
  • When do I add fabric softener?
  • Hard water areas
  • Bed linen
  • Keep clothes looking new 
  • Sensitive skin 
  • Clothes likely to bobble

What is fabric softener?

Before answering the question of when you should use fabric softener, we need to first understand what it is. To begin with, as the name implies, fabric softener softens your clothing and leaves it smelling fresh. Asides from this, it will strengthen the fabric of your clothing, therefore making your clothes easier to iron. 

When do I add fabric softener?

Many people believe that fabric softener should be added to your washing at the same time as detergent. This is incorrect. You should add your fabric softener during your rinse cycle. Adding softener during a wash cycle will remove the chemical residue that makes your clothing soft, therefore making it ineffective. 

Photo by Sher Lyn from Pexels

Fabric softener should be used for the following situations.

Hard water areas 

If you live in a hard water area, you may notice that your clothing comes out of the washing machine feeling rough. This is because the mineral content in hard water is high and attaches to the fibres in your clothing, making the fabric stiffer than in soft water areas. Adding fabric softener to your wash can remove some of those harsh minerals, resulting in softer clothing. 

Photo by Steve Johnson from Pexels

Bed linen 

Everybody loves crisp, soft, clean-smelling sheets. When washing your bed linen, add some fabric softener. The next time you get into bed you will be met with soft sheets and a heavenly smell that will make it even harder for you to get out of bed. 

Photo by Harry Page from Pexels

Keep clothes looking new 

It’s awful when you put your favourite jumper in the wash and it comes out unravelled and with a hole in it. Fabric softener smooths the fibres in your clothing, reducing the friction caused when washing, and therefore reducing wear and tear. Adding a small amount of fabric softener to your washing can prevent the loss of your favourite clothing, and keep your clothes looking newer for longer. 

Sensitive skin  

For those that suffer from sensitive skin, be careful with the fabric softener that you buy. Some softeners are perfumed and can, therefore, cause additional irritation. That being said, if you buy a sensitive skin friendly fabric softener, it can eliminate irritation caused by rough clothing rubbing against your skin. 

Image by NIAID

Clothes likely to bobble 

Bobbles on clothing can really damage the aesthetic of your favourite look. They occur when friction causes the fibres on the surface of your clothing to rub together, resulting in small, irritating, balls of loose fabric. Fabric softener strengthens the fibres in your clothing, preventing bobbling from occurring. Now, you can strut down the street in your best outfit, completely bobble free. 

If you’re still not sure when to use your fabric softener, leave it to us. Book your contactless delivery slot on the Laundryheap website or by downloading the free Laundryheap app. 

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Don’t Use Fabric Softener On These Items!

Fabric softener (or fabric conditioner) is formulated to keep your clothes feeling soft and smelling fresh when it comes out of the wash. It helps fabric fibres remain smooth and maintain elasticity, making them prone to wear and tear.

Despite the benefits fabric conditioner has on our clothes, it should not be used on all of out items!

Let’s take a look at which ones:

Gym Clothes

Many types of workout clothes or gym wear are specifically designed to absorb our sweat and keep us dry when we exercise. Applying fabric softener will only coat the fabric which will lock in sweat and keep it from drying, preventing the fabric fibres from doing its job.


Swim suits are made with fabrics that are designed to absorb very little water (make sense), which means they can dry quicker. Fabric softener works to lock in moisture, meaning if it was to be applied to swimwear, it will strip away it’s ‘quick drying’ properties and lead to odour and promote mold growth. 


Everyone loves soft, fluffy towels! And they can always remain that way by skipping the fabric softener in the wash. Towels are made of microfiber, which is why they’re able to absorb and lock in moisture, dust and dirt. Adding fabric softener exposes the towel to waxy residue, causing it to reduce it’s absorbency qualities. 

Water Resistant Fabric

You wear a rain coat to prevent yourself from getting wet, correct? Well, how would you like it if the raincoat was stripped of it’s water repellent abilities and you just end up getting drenched? Then it would be a useless coat. Water resistant clothes mixed with softener will impact it’s ability to repel the water.

Flame Resistant Fabric

Most baby/infant clothes, sleepwear specifically, are made to be fire resistant due to safety reasons of course. If fabric conditioner is applied to such items, it will have a negative impact as it reduces it’s fire-resistant properties.