Should I use a fabric softener?

Technical Laundry experts and fabric care professionals do not like Fabric Softeners, but consumers have traditionally bought separate washing powders and fabric softeners for washing. As an industry the combined value in the US alone is around $11 billion dollars. So it is no wonder that manufacturers and retailers want customers to keep buying.

Hopefully this piece will provide information for you to make your own mind up about whether you should use a fabric softener, or not.

Distinctive washing powder has in-built cationic softening so you don’t buy an extra fabric softener!

Facts about Fabric Softeners

Fabric softeners use petroleum-based chemicals, which are not easily biodegradable. I am not clear what green scientists are managing to do to improve this, and there are currently only a couple of manufacturers who have managed to make a fabric softener that it free of harmful preservative content. So the fact they are not green, or skin safe, is the main reason, after cleanliness, that we will not make one.

What they do

Fabric softeners coat the surface of fabric fibres with a thin layer of chemicals containing lubricant properties. These are electrically conductive, thus making the fibres feel smoother and also preventing buildup of static electricity. Other functions are improvements of iron glide during ironing, increased resistance to stains by providing a topical coating, and reduction of wrinkling and piling which is mostly helpful with knitwear.

The other purpose is to saturate your clothing with scent. Fabric softener compartment releases into the washing machine  at the last stage of the wash and therefore it doesn’t rinse out. It will invariably make clothing smell better, even if it is not clean.

Fabric softener causes poor wicking

By coating fibres with any lipid substances to soften them you automatically decrease their water absorption properties. This a really bad solution for towels and other cotton garments used for underwear and sleepwear and bedding. Cotton would normally absorb light perspiration. You’d be shocked to learn that we perspire between 100ml and 200ml of water over 8 hours of sleep.


The lipids have to have all sorts of chemicals added to them to keep them free-flowing (i.e prevent the fatty substance going gloopy) and also have anti-microbial substances added, to help prevent it going mouldy.  In terms of the fabric softener in your tubes and pipes in the washing machine with the last rinse water you can imagine the potential plumbing issue.

Do an experiment at home – leave some fabric softener on the side for a week and watch how quickly it goes off, when it is out of an airtight bottle.

The dispenser drawer of your washing machine unfortunately suffers the same effects as our little experiment above. The lipid content of fabric softener is the ideal slimy breeding ground for bacteria and mould. Over time, the residues left in the drawer compartment start to go off. By the time it is black, you have mould running through your washing machine. Making it absolutely impossible to achieve fresh clean results when you wash.

Fabric softener is the biggest cause of a mouldy washing machine

Washing machine cleaning products do target these issues, but they need to be completed incredibly regularly, because once black growth/mould takes hold in the tubes it really is difficult to remove. Hydrogen peroxide is a must for flushing through a dirty washing machine.

We have a series of easy to follow videos about cleaning your washing machine. 

mould caused by fabric softener

mouldy washing machine drawer


Who wants to wash their clothes and add a load of fat now?

The only thing a fabric softener really does for your clothes is impart a stronger scent, because it gets added at the last rinse in the wash cycle. Meaning that whatever is put in the clothes at that stage doesn’t rinse out. Many people are developing allergy to the preservative chemicals that are added at this stage of the wash. Methylisothiazolinone a preservative commonly used in detergents and cosmetics does a fantastic job at preventing mould growth but is awful at causing really nasty dry sensitive sore skin that is prone to flaking/peeling.  Can’t wash up without wearing gloves? You more than likely have a Methylisothiazolinone allergy.  Thankfully the cracked and dry skin damage is reversible once you stop using products with the ingredient in.

Try our fabric spray in bedrooms and bathrooms too

Use to boost scent as you iron or to freshen fabrics around the home

Distinctive masculine luxury sandalwood and amber fragrance spray

Spray whilst ironing to give fabrics a boost of our designer sandalwood masculine fragrance


We’d have Fabric and room sprays for sale at only £17.99 delivered.

Do you want to know how we soften water and clothing without fabric softener?

Simply put it’s a little like the way the salt exchange process occurs in your dishwasher, softening the water to make cleaning more effective.

Laundry techs say no to softeners and adding greasing factors to fabrics, so we do too. After all, when you buy new clothes they won’t have been pre-treated like that. We have been washing without a seperate fabric softener for more than a decade and a half and don’t miss it at all!