The best fabric softeners remove wrinkles without a trace
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Reading Domino’s buying guides is like having your own personal product concierge. We do the tedious part – in-depth research, hands-on testing, and listening to experts for advice – so all you have to do is click ‘add to cart’. That’s why we call them simply the best.
According to our research, that is, lots of washing and drying, what separates the best fabric softeners from the worst isn’t necessarily the ability to produce a smelly laundry (although that’s always a plus). Winning formulas are effective at keeping materials at optimal freshness levels, increasing softness, and eliminating unwanted static or wrinkles. Bonus points are also awarded to fabric softener brands that take durability into account. After deciding on a selection of options that use either recyclable and compostable packaging or natural and plant-based ingredients, we’ve put our top picks for the best fabric softeners to work.
Find out which fabric softener formula was most effective when compared to denim, cotton sheets, t-shirts and socks prone to wrinkling and static.
Public Goods Fabric Softener Sheets
Fabric Softener Sheets, 80 count, Public Goods ($7)
Ever since Public Goods launched its line of minimalist products, we’ve been on board with its offerings. Its sleek packaging designs for those who live in small spaces have also quickly won the hearts of many other buyers. Despite being a self-proclaimed fragrance lover who almost never passes up an aromatic product, our tester immediately fell in love with Public Goods’ fragrance-free sheets. The static caps are made from fully recyclable, compostable and biodegradable vegetable rayon, and the 80 perforated sheets are packaged in a box also made from recycled paper. They’re rough to the touch compared to traditional ones, which made our tester wonder: could a thick, crispy sheet actually deliver on its promise of effectively softening and smoothing fabrics?
After testing them, these hypoallergenic sheets outperformed several other brands and did so with high-performing, all-natural ingredients (gluten- and phosphate-free, by the way). A half sheet is recommended for smaller loads, while a full sheet easily handles more wrinkle-prone fabrics (like cotton) in larger quantities. After drying several loads in a standard machine, from cotton t-shirts and jeans to sheets, towels and workout gear, we took note of how easily the sheets wrinkle free and eliminate static. They separate from the load and wrinkle slightly after use, but leave no static or slippery residue. Our towels were fluffy and absorbent afterwards; clothes and linens stayed soft and relatively smooth, even after spending a night (or two) in the dryer.
Although fragrance-free, our tester and reviewers attest that the sheets leave their laundry feeling fresh and clean. “I was skeptical at first because of the texture of the sheets,” notes one reviewer, “but they really make my clothes soft and static-free without the heavy chemicals.” Note: They are suitable for use in high-efficiency (HE) and standard dryers.
We like too
- Dropps fabric softener pods: We would be remiss to exclude this Domino favorite from the list. Like the brand’s other products, these water-soluble pods come in compostable packaging, and the fabric softener itself is enclosed in a water-soluble polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) case.
We tested (and liked) its Orange Blossom and Lavender Eucalyptus flavors (both contain boosters for extra scent), but the pods also come in Clean and Crisp, Ocean, Crisp Fall Air, Home for the Holidays, and Unscented.
A box of 64 units costs $19 with a subscription; a one-time purchase costs $25.
- Tangent GC: This fabric softener made in Sweden is a bit expensive: a 16.9 fluid ounce container costs $25, which is equivalent to 25 to 50 washes.
However, the formula is vegan, organic, and cruelty- and fossil-free; its subtle fragrance comes from kiyomi fragrance, so those with skin sensitivities should take that into consideration. Finally, we appreciate the plastic container of sugar cane, which is not biodegradable but 100% recyclable.
According to the instructions, organic fabric softener is not recommended for all types of fabrics, so follow the garment care instructions for best results.
- Method Liquid Fabric Softener: Of the 5 star reviewers, one describes the liquid as having a “thin but NOT thick” consistency which they have happily used for 10 years.
We love the Beach Sage scent (it’s also available in Ginger Mango and Free + Clear), but the formula contains synthetic fragrances.
- Grove Co. Caldrea Blue Sage: This sweet-scented liquid fabric softener effectively refreshes a large amount of clothes after just one use using natural essential oils and plant-derived conditioners.
A lingering aroma wasn’t overpowering, although it might be a little too much for those with a discerning nose. This formula needs to be added during the rinse cycle, which can be a challenge if you’re washing on the go.
Try a 32-ounce bottle for $22, or sign up for monthly shipments and the cost drops to $14.
How we choose these products
To narrow down the best fabric softener options, we focused on brand reputation (Dropps and Method are Domino favorites), then looked at reviews from previous buyers for rave recommendations. Next, we moved to sustainable elements in formulas and packaging (emphasis on biodegradable containers and sheets and plant-based solutions).
After making sure our picks were free of harsh chemicals, we included leaves, pods, and liquids so we could compare them to each other. Finally, we factored in price, scent variations, and the fabric softener’s ability to remove wrinkles and soften fabrics, and enlisted laundry expert Cheryl Nelson for advice on how to use it. identification of the best option.
Our shopping checklist
Type and scent
Fabric softeners come in pods (like our Dropps selection), sheets, and liquids (see our Method and Organics selections). As seen on our list, fabric softeners and conditioners come in various scents and unscented variations. Generally eco-friendly options that don’t contain harsh chemicals offer fragrance-free choices or use essential oils to make them aromatic.
Not all fabric softener is created equal, so before making a purchase, check the product label to see if it’s HE compatible, works with standard dryers, or both.
Like all applicable products we tested, the labels clearly highlighted this sensitivity detail with an explicit hypoallergenic label or a “dermatologist recommended” rating. Read the ingredient list if you are unsure about the presence of skin irritants.
Q: What is the difference between fabric softeners and fabric softeners?
According to Nelson, the terms softener and softener can be used interchangeably. “While one brand may claim that its ‘softener’ not only refreshes and softens the fabric, but also helps prevent the fabric from piling up, stretching and fading, another company claims that its ‘softener’ ‘ does the same,” she explains. Essentially, both products coat the fabric with a thin lubricating film to help reduce friction and negative static charge.
Q: Are there times when I shouldn’t use fabric softener?
Although we’ve tested our picks on all types of fabrics, Nelson says it’s best to avoid using fabric softeners on delicate fabrics like lingerie and formal wear (it can cause the material to break down) , as well as on sportswear and swimwear, as buildup can cause materials like lycra, spandex, or elastane to become less absorbent over time. Additionally, she says microfiber cloths are susceptible to buildup of a waxy film. Overall, we recommend that you strictly follow product and garment care instructions.
The last word
The selections are many, so choosing the best fabric softener is not the easiest task. But as long as you avoid fabric softeners that aren’t compatible with your machine or fabrics (residue is prohibited in any case) and stick to those that are hypoallergenic, free of skin-irritating ingredients, and suitable For use in all types of machines, you’ll be sure to land on a formula that keeps your clothes fluffy, fresh, and static-free.