Best Fabric Softener

Pouring Fabric Softener

We spent 4 weeks testing 23 popular types of fabric softeners to come up with this review of the top 5 best fabric softener. We factored in action, capacity, type, and extras. The number one fabric softener is the Downy Ultra Fabric Softener Free and Sensitive Liquid because it satisfied all of our important checklist items. The fabric softener does a good job making clothes soft and prevents against fading, static, stretching and fizz. This is also a hypoallergenic product fit for people with sensitive skin. The load capacity is also decent for a small to medium-sized family and is an affordable choice considering what it brings to the table.

Fabric Softener Reviews

We sought out the best selling and most popular fabric softeners and tested a good number of them to narrow down our choices to the five best ones. The criteria we used include;

Action – what the fabric softener actually does besides softening fabric?

Capacity – how many loads you can do per packaging?

Type – is it a washer or dryer fabric softener and is it in liquid, sheet, ball or pack form?

Extras – what additional qualities does it have such as no synthetic chemicals or fibers?

We used the fabric softeners we had picked out over the course of four weeks and took notes based on the aforementioned checklist. We used the same checklist to rank the top 5 best fabric softeners.

Top 5 Picks

1st Place: Downy Ultra Fabric Softener Free and Sensitive Liquid

This Downy fabric softener is a conventional liquid softener that is easy to use. The cap also doubles as a measuring cup and with easy-to-follow directions; you shouldn’t have a hard time even if you have never used fabric softener before.

The product had a notable softening effect and is a hypoallergenic fabric softener making it ideal for people with sensitive skin. We also liked that it doesn’t contain any perfumes or dyes so it’s gentle on clothes.

Other than softening fabric, this Downy Ultra Fabric Softener also protects clothes from fuzz balls, static, stretching and fading. The 34 fl. oz. bottle does roughly 40 loads which isn’t bad for a single person or a small family.  We recommend this fabric softener for people with sensitive skin.

2nd Place: Bounce Fabric Softener Sheets, Outdoor Fresh

The Bounce Fabric Softener Sheets also scored great marks and is the best value for money product on this list. The softener lost some points on hypoallergenic and extras but is still a solid choice if you are only interested in a fabric softener that does its job without all the bells and whistles.

This product works with your dryer and is incredibly easy to use if you have never used one. Simply lay one sheet on your load and run the dryer as usual. There is an unscented alternative for people with sensitive skin but we must note that this is not a hypoallergenic certified product. There is also a good variety of scents to choose from which we liked.

We also liked that the softener stops static and loosens up stubborn wrinkles. The product comes in a package of 240 sheets so you’ll have plenty of laundries to do before you need to top up.

Lastly, the box is made from all recycled materials while the softener contains biodegradable catatonic softeners so it earns great ‘Green’ points. We recommend this option if you are looking for a good fabric softener to use with your dryer and at a cheap price.

3rd Place: Snuggle Laundry Scent Boosters Concentrated Scent Pacs

The Snuggle Laundry Scent Boosters Tub features concentrated scent pacs that are easy to use with your washing machine. Simply toss one with your load and run the usual cycle. We especially loved this brand because scent pacs are notorious for leaving stains on clothes if they don’t dissolve properly. This problem isn’t present with Snuggle fabric softener.

The package does about 56 loads of laundry which is good enough for most households. We loved that the product doesn’t discriminate; you can do virtually all your clothes including active wear and sleepwear. The softener comes in a choice of 5 scents. The product also prevents against stretching and static while the scent sticks for a long time.

This Snuggle fabric softener is affordable and all round effective. As a word of caution, you may want to dry your hands before touching the pacs to avoid creating a mess. We took away a few points because this isn’t a hypoallergenic softener and it contains dyes and fragrances which may be an issue for some people. We recommend this if you are looking for an affordable, long lasting fabric softener that you can use with your washing machine.

4th Place: Method Dryer Activated Fabric Softener Spray

This Method Dryer fabric softener is a little different from what we are used to but still performed well enough to make it on this list. This is a dryer fabric softener created as a clever alternative to dryer sheets. You simply spray into the dryer and the product is activated immediately you start the cycle.

This product earns high eco-friendly points. It is a completely plant based softener and a hypoallergenic for people with sensitive skin. It is hard to tell that it’s a plant based product because of its strong scent. This quality is attributed to its ultra-concentrated contents.

Finally, this softener protects against static and fight wrinkles. We had to take away some points because you can go through the bottle in a relatively short time compared to others we reviewed here. Overall, we strongly recommend this for the eco-conscious who would love to use dryer sheets but can’t reconcile with the thought of the sheets ending up in a landfill.

5th Place: Smart Sheep Dryer Balls Natural Fabric Softener

Finally, we tried many wool dryer balls and had almost written them off as over-hyped before we stumbled upon these Smart Sheep Dryer Balls. They are made from natural 100% New Zealand wool. The product did its job well in softening fabric in addition to preventing against fluff, static and stretching. We also loved that the softener doesn’t use any synthetic chemicals or fibers so it’s safe to use on baby clothes and for sensitive skin.

We would have ranked these balls higher if they weren’t so cumbersome to use. You need to figure out how many balls to use depending on your load. These can also be loud in the dryer which can be a problem if you have a toddler or small child in the house. All the same, this is a solid choice if you don’t mind the noise. The softener balls are also reusable for hundreds of loads and can save you significant money on fabric softeners and dryer sheets.

We recommend this option for the eco-conscious customer. The packet includes 6 balls.

Fabric Softener Buyer’s Guide

Fabric Softener Jug

What is Fabric Softener?

Fabric softener is a product used when cleaning or drying laundry primarily to soften garments. Fabric softeners also prevent against static while others also prevent against fading, wrinkles and shrinking.

Types of Fabric Softeners

Fabric softeners come in three main forms; liquid, sheets or balls.

Liquid: Liquid fabric softeners are typically used with washing machines and are generally most effective. They are particularly good at softening and eliminating static. These can be a little expensive compared to the other two options.

Sheets: fabric softener sheets can be used in a washing machine or dryer. They are very simple to use and do a decent job softening and protecting against static. The sheets don’t typically come with the wide array of qualities compared to the liquid softener. Overall, these are more affordable than the liquid counterparts.

Balls: these are typically called dryer balls and used in dryers. Their main selling point is eco-friendly because they are reusable. Dryer balls may not be as effective as liquid softeners especially if you are looking for extras but they are very economical.

Why Use Fabric Softeners?

Many people wonder if fabric softeners are necessary in the first place. Although their benefits are alluded to throughout this article, it’s still worth looking at why you should use fabric softener with your clothing.

Great Scent: Fabric softeners have a nice fragrance that lasts for a long time. Most brands have a good selection of scents for you to pick your favorite one.

Maintain Garments: If used correctly, fabric softeners can keep your clothes and fabrics looking new for longer. Some brands such as the Downy Ultra Fabric Softener prevent fading so your clothes don’t get old as quickly. 

Easy Ironing on Fabric Softener Clothes

Easy Ironing: A good fabric softener straightens the fabric’s fibers to make ironing much easier.

Less Static: Most fabric softeners eliminate static if this is a common problem you face.

Tips for Using Fabric Softener

First, check the all garment labels to ensure that you can use fabric softener on them. Not all clothes are safe to use with fabric softener, even mild products.

Follow the manufacturer’s direction on the side of box or bottle before use. This information should help you figure out how much softener to use for the size of your load. Also be sure to read the washer’s instruction manual if you don’t know how or where to pour liquid fabric softener. 

You are free to use your regular detergent with fabric softener. The softener doesn’t actually clean your clothes so you still need detergent.

Use fabric softener sparingly on cotton towels as too much use can reduce the fabric’s absorbency.

Use the recommended amount of fabric softener. Too much product may stain your clothes.

Finally, avoid using fabric softener on baby clothes or if you have sensitive skin unless it’s certified hypoallergenic.

What to Look For in A Fabric Softener

There are a few qualities to look for in a fabric softener. We used these same criteria to choose the products we were going to test as well as for ranking this top 5 list.

Action

A good fabric softener should do more than simply soften the fabric. The additional action includes reducing static, smoothing wrinkles, preventing fading and shrinking and maintaining the fabric in it’s original condition. The Downy Ultra Fabric Softener Free and Sensitive Liquid offers one of the best action you can expect to find on the market.

Fabric Softener Saves Money

Value for Money

This refers mainly to how many loads you can do with a single purchase. You may have to sacrifice on action or other considerations featured here. All the same, if all you want is a product that softens fabric, reduces static and leaves clothes smelling fresh for a long time, the Bounce Fabric Softener Sheets, Outdoor Fresh is a perfect choice.

Eco-Friendly

The most eco-friendly fabric softeners you can find on the market are typically wool balls. These don’t contain any harmful chemicals, scents or dyes and are reusable multiple times. These softeners also offer great value for money. A good choice here is the Smart Sheep Dryer Balls Natural Fabric Softener. Make sure that you are getting 100% authentic and natural fibers as there are many knock-offs on the market.

Hypoallergenic

We advise that you don’t use fabric softener on baby clothes if at all possible simply as a precaution. Still, there are plant-based options with zero toxins and harsh chemicals or dyes such as the Downy Ultra Fabric Softener Free and Sensitive Liquid. You definitely also need a hypoallergenic softener if you have sensitive skin or a skin condition.

Type

Finally, you have a choice between washer and dryer fabric softener. The choice is up to you depending on what’s most convenient. You may, however, find that liquid softeners tend to perform better than other types. These are also reserved for use with a washing machine.

Conclusion

We tested multiple popular brands of fabric softener to come up with this list of the top 5 best fabric softener. The main word of advice here is to follow directions for use to avoid disappointments. Also, make sure that the fabrics you are laundering are safe to use with fabric softener.

Overall, all the top 5 products mentioned here performed well. We took many different needs into account and made some suggestions to that effect. We would be proud to recommend any product on our top 5 list of best fabric softeners.