Washing Clothes With Fabric Softener-Worth It or Not?

Fabric softeners act to soften your clothes. They are not meant to wash clothes and they will not even clean them properly. It will not eliminate sweat, filth, or bacteria from your clothes.

Does Fabric Softener Clean Clothes?

Fabric softeners will not serve the purpose of cleaning your clothes, as they do not contain specialized cleaning enzymes and alkalies. They are not an effective alternative to laundry detergents.

A fabric softener is similar to a hair conditioner in that it deposits an oil into the fibers of the cloth, which lubricates the cloth and allows the fibers to flow past each other, resulting in a less stiff cloth.

Does Fabric Softener Act as An Alternative to Laundry Detergent to Clean Clothes?

A fabric softener is not a viable substitute for washing detergent. Fabric softener does not include the cleaning ingredients needed to remove dirt and stains, such as enzymes. Fabric softener is safe to use on its own, but it will not clean your clothes.

If you run out of detergent, the best thing you can do is hand wash your clothes until you buy the new detergent. Softener alone will make your clothes feel softer and smell better, but it will not remove dirt, stains, or oils.

Another option is to use baking soda or borax in the washing machine, which can effectively remove dirt and stains from clothing.

It’s important to keep in mind that you should never wash clothes with dish washing liquid, hair shampoo, or conditioner. They’ll ruin your clothes and potentially seriously harm or destroy your washing machine.

What is the Difference Between Laundry Detergent and Fabric Softener?

Laundry detergent is designed to remove dirt, stains, grease, sweat, and other debris from clothes. On the other hand, fabric softener is used to reinforce, protect, and soften your textiles, allowing them to last longer between washes.

Both of them have significant importance in the laundry process but play a different role in caring for your clothes properly.

Detergents are mainly composed of specialized enzymes and chemicals that aids in removing dirt, buildup, and bacteria from fabrics. They are designed on a specific formula to remove stains from textiles and also conserve the color of your garments over time.

The key ingredients in laundry detergent include:

  • Alkalies: A kind of dissolvable salt and a base that reacts with it. Alkalies are mainly used for stain and dirt removal.
  • Sulfates that are surfactants help in suspending dirt in water and prevent it from re-sticking to the clothes.
  • Catalytic Enzymes have the role of targeting specific kinds of dirt and then breaking it down.
  • pH transformers, water conditioners, and preservatives are present for functional purposes, such as preventing hard-water damage to textiles.

Fabric softeners, on the other hand, are designed to protect the clothes. They do so by bolstering the fibers of the fabric and by reducing the friction during the washing process. The main ingredients present in fabric softener are:

  • Conditioning agent which helps to prevent the static effect. This creates a slippery barrier that gives softness to the fabric.
  • Emulsifiers are added to make the oils present in the product water-soluble.
  • Preservatives for keeping the formula stable.
  • Fragrances to add a pleasant smell to the clothes. There are plenty of fragrance-free options as well.

Is Fabric Conditioner Safe to Use on All Fabrics?

Fabric softeners possess certain chemicals that have a bad influence on some fabrics. Although they have a softening effect, the softener may wear out the fibers of the fabric.

Fabric softeners can roughen certain textiles due to their chemical qualities. Avoid using it on microfiber since it can reduce the absorbency of the fabric.

Hand and bath towels, tea towels, and microfiber cloths designed to absorb water, as well as quick-dry sportswear that absorbs sweat, should be treated with caution. Wash towels with and without fabric conditioner alternately to keep them soft and fluffy while still being absorbent.

On specialty textiles like wicking sportswear, flameproof children’s clothing or pajamas, water-resistant items, and synthetic fabrics like polyester or anything containing elastane and nylon, you should omit the fabric softener (think skinny jeans or leggings).

What is the Purpose of Fabric Conditioner?

Fabric conditioner softens and conditions your clothes, making them less harsh and abrasive against the skin. Fabric conditioner is typically scented to leave your garments smelling fresh.

Fabric Softener Aids in The Care and Protection of Your Clothing

Clothing can suffer a lot of wear and tear over time, so a fabric conditioner will delicately treat each of the fibers, smoothing them out and keeping your item looking new for longer. This smoothing technique also aids in the reduction of static cling on your apparel.

Fabric Softener Saves A Lot of Time

A fabric conditioner is the best option if you usually have an ironing pile. Clothes that are washed with fabric softener are less creased when they come out of the washing machine because the smoothness of the fibers allows creases to fall out more easily, making ironing a breeze.

Related questions

Why does my laundry never smell pleasant?

It is most likely due to a buildup of detergent, filth, or limescale inside your washing machine if your garments do not smell fresh when they come out. The most common symptom is damp or musty clothes, even when dry, as well as an unpleasant odor coming from inside your machine.

Should you use dryer sheets and fabric softener?

Static and wrinkles are reduced by using fabric softeners and dryer sheets, which also make clothes feel softer and smell nicer. They do, however, work in various ways. To avoid stains, apply liquid softener during the final rinse while the tub is full of water if you are not using a dispenser or a softener ball.

Is it true that fabric softener can help with wrinkles?

Not only will a decent brand of liquid fabric softener decreases static cling and make the clothing smell nicer, but it will also assist in dramatically reducing washer-induced creases and keep the clothes soft during the drying cycle.


A fabric softener will not work if you run out of detergent and are looking for a substitute. Fabric softener used instead of laundry detergent will not harm your clothes or your washing machine, but it will not clean your clothes like a proper detergent would. If this occurs, simply re-run the laundry load using the proper supplies.

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