Of the regular laundry supplies many consumers use, I believe that liquid fabric softener is the least understood item in the laundry arsenal. Sure, it’s supposed to make your laundry feel really soft and make it smell very nice, but there is another really good reason to use fabric softener as part of your laundry routine.
I’ll bet you’re asking, “Diva, what’s the big deal about liquid fabric softener? I use the dryer sheets. Isn’t that enough? And, besides, running to the washer to catch the fabric softener/rinse cycle is a pain the neck. Why should I even bother?”
Well, let me tell you, Dear Reader, that just like saliva, I was stunned to learn about how important liquid fabric softener is to any laundry routine. It’s quite simple actually: it breaks down the soap deposits in the washer and thus your clothes. That’s what helps make your clothes feel softer and stay cleaner, longer. The nice smell that comes with it is just a side-effect of the perfumes in the softener. You will notice a difference if you aren’t already using it.
Another pro-tip: If you, inadvertently, put too much soap in the washer and suds start coming out of the machine? Just add more fabric softener. I usually add about a cap of fabric softener and two caps of cold water to the soap dispenser.
Your washing machine doesn’t have a fabric softener dispenser and you don’t have time to run to the machine to add liquid fabric softener during the rinse cycle? Get yourself a Downy Ball. With this ball, you can put the fabric softener in the wash with your soap and during the rinse cycle, the ball gets agitated enough to pop open and deposit the fabric softener in at the right time, without you having to run anywhere.
You’re allergic to liquid fabric softener, you say? Try white vinegar. It’s all natural. It doesn’t have an aroma if you are allergic to perfume. It’s less expensive and it works just as well. It’s a great substitute if your manufacturer tag says “No Fabric Softener”, but you want to be sure you get the soap out of all the clothes in the same wash. Of course, the caveat here is that you MUST put it in the rinse cycle. If you use it during the wash cycle it will dilute the cleaning power of your detergents before they have a chance to kick in. (Warning: Do NOT put vinegar in the wash with liquid bleach!)
A word about fabric softener bead/crystals: I don’t like them and I don’t use them. They are bad for your washer and worse for your dryer (they wreak havoc in laundromat facilities, which is why so many of them ask customers not to use them). They will make your clothes smell super nice but I would avoid them, if at all possible.
One final note, if you use liquid fabric softener, you may still want to use dryer sheets to cut down on the static electricity that the dryer will accumulate while your clothes are tumbling around, but for increased aroma, it’s not necessary. If you have allergies, two or three, tennis ball-sized foil balls will work just as well as one dryer sheet to cut down on the static and give your clothes a softer dry.