Liquid fabric softener, which is added to a washing machine during the final
rinse cycle, has been shown to surpass dryer sheets when it comes to eliminating
static cling and softening clothes. Some fabric softeners are available in
dye-free, fragrance-free or all-natural versions (chemical-free with biodegradable
ingredients) as well. Dryer balls -- spiky plastic spheres that don't contain
fabric softener -- are designed to eliminate static, reduce stiffness and
speed drying time. Dryer bars attach to the inside of a dryer's drum, releasing
small amounts of fabric softener over time.
Here are some things to bear in mind when you buy a fabric softener:
use fabric softeners on flame-retardant clothing, such as children's
sleepwear. Experts say the compounds in all fabric softeners can accumulate
and coat fabrics over time, reducing their flame-resistant properties.
- Fragrance is
important. A wide variety of scents are available among fabric softeners
but some can be overwhelming, long-lingering or unpleasant. Consumers
who desire fragrance-free clothing may be interested in free and clear
versions of fabric softeners. These products, which don't contain dyes
or perfumes, typically contain the same ingredients as their scented counterparts.
fabric softeners require less liquid per load. Most fabric softeners
require about an ounce of liquid per load, but some concentrated versions
use slightly less, giving you more for your money, depending on price.
Product labels typically indicate the number of loads you can expect, on
average, out of a bottle, so a quick comparison between the ounces and
number of loads will give you an idea of whether you'll be using an ounce
or less per load.
dryer balls if static isn't a big issue. Dryer balls are spiky rubber
balls meant to massage fabrics in the dryer without using chemicals. Reviewers
are split on how well they work. Most say they work pretty well for
softening fabrics, but don't do a great job controlling static.