Is Fabric Softener Really Bad For Your Clothes?

People use fabric softener because it softens clothes and can make them smell nice. On the other hand, fabric softeners can be harmful to your clothes if used incorrectly. In fact, using fabric softener on active wear can cause serious problems.

Is Fabric Softener Bad For Clothes?

Fabric softeners coat clothing with a chemical coating that prevents the real surfaces from touching, preventing static cling. However, the chemicals used in softeners accumulate over time. This buildup can cause yellowing in clothing and reduce fabric absorbency.

Synthetic fragrances used in fabric softeners are also known to cause headaches and respiratory problems. Fabric softeners can be hazardous to one’s health.

Fabric softeners can irritate the skin and cause breathing problems, so it is time to ditch the fabric softener and find an alternative.

Why Should You Stop Using Fabric Softeners?

There are certain hazardous chemicals in the fabric softeners that are not only dangerous for the clothes but also for human health.

Some of the toxic effects are given below:

Toxic and harmful fragrances

The fragrances used in your fabric softener help in making your clothes smell nice, but the chemicals, such as phthalates in the scents, can be very harmful to your body.

The ingredients that contribute to the pleasant odor of your fabric softener can cause allergies, skin irritations, respiratory problems, and reproductive problems. Many of the ingredients in fabric softeners are not even listed on the labels because the companies are aware that the chemicals are harmful.

Scents may cause more irritation when dried outside because the chemicals in the fabric softener can mix with the chemicals in the air. This is especially dangerous for people who have asthma.

Synthetics Can Be Damaged by Fabric Softeners

When you use a fabric softener, a chemical layer is applied to your clothing. These chemicals will clog the pores in synthetic materials, reducing their ability to wick moisture away. As a result, not only will you be soaked and uncomfortable during your workouts, but your clothes may also start to stink.

Flammable Clothing

The harmful chemicals in fabric softeners can also increase the risk of your clothing catching fire. The chemicals have the potential to make your clothes more flammable. Cotton clothing is more vulnerable than synthetics.

The Consumers Union conducted tests on liquid fabric softeners in rinse cycles, and the results revealed that adding fabric softener significantly increased the flammability of the clothes compared to clothes that did not have fabric softener.

What Could Be Some Alternatives To Fabric Softener?

If softness is the only reason that is restricting you to avoid the use of fabric softeners, then there are plenty of effective alternatives.

White vinegar

This can be an excellent substitute for traditional fabric softeners. While it will not help with static, it will soften your clothes including your workout clothes.

Do not worry, your clothes will not smell like vinegar afterward. Simply add a capful to the wash cycle.

Note: Do not combine vinegar and bleach as this can result in the formation of toxic gas.

Baking Soda

Baking soda can also help soften your clothes. Simply add a half cup to the wash and let it work its magic. Again do not combine baking soda and vinegar as this can result in a suds explosion.

Aluminum Foil

To help get rid of static cling, roll up a ball of aluminum foil and place it in the dryer along with your laundry. What is nice about this fabric softener substitute is that aluminum foil is something you probably have on hand already, and you can reuse the same ball of foil for multiple loads.

A Tennis Ball

It might seem weird and funny but using a tennis ball also serves the purpose of a fabric softener. Adding a tennis ball to the drying cycle works in the same way that aluminum foil does.

It agitates the fabrics and separates them, reducing static cling. It can also make your clothes softer. To protect the tennis ball, use this on low heat cycles.

Is Fabric Softener Necessary For Clothes?

It is not necessary to use a fabric softener. On laundry day, many people skip this step. Some materials will never benefit from fabric softener. Other garments, on the other hand, would benefit from a little softening.

Some types of garments on which fabric softeners have a good effect are given below:


Fabric softener is beneficial to everyday clothes such as cotton garments. It can aid in the reduction of static cling and the comfort of clothing.


A fabric softener can help reduce static and wrinkles on the clothes with linen stuff. It also adds a pleasant scent and shortens the drying time.


Adding fabric softener to your bed sheets can make them feel extra soft. It will make those eight hours of sleep even more enjoyable.

Related questions

Why does my laundry not smell nice?

If your clothes do not smell fresh after washing, it is most likely due to a buildup of detergent, dirt, or limescale inside your machine. The most noticeable symptom is that your laundry smells damp or musty even when dry, as well as an unpleasant odor coming from inside your machine.

How do you keep your clothes from stinking after you have dried them?

If you use a dryer, add some Dryer Sheets to make your clothes smell even better when they come out of the dryer. Dryer sheets help to make your clothes smell even better. For regular loads, use one dryer sheet; for large and HE loads, use two dryer sheets.

Is fabric softener harmful to jeans?

Fabric softeners coat the surface of the denim with a thin layer of chemicals that, albeit mildly, abrade the fibers to give jeans that soft feel. This stress accumulates over time and wears out the fabric unnecessarily.


Harmful chemicals are all around us, and they may be causing you health problems that you are not even aware of, especially those related to fabric softeners which is a common household product.

Always be cautious when reading the label, and if you are unsure about any of the ingredients, choose a simpler cleaning solution.

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