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Ditch the Fabric Softener: Why It's Bad for Your Laundry, and What to Use Instead

In this article, the laundry experts from Heritage Park weigh in on why you really don’t need to use fabric softener; why fabric softener is bad; and what to do instead to soften your clothing and home linen.

Fabric Softener: Is It Really Necessary?

Here at Heritage Park Laundry Essentials, our Clean Team of laundry experts are asked "Do I need to use fabric softener?" at least once a week. And our answer is always the same: No, you do not need fabric softener. In fact, many chemicals used in most fabric softeners should make this entire product category an automatic hard pass. But we love sharing our knowledge of all things laundry-related, so we’re taking a minute to debunk the fabric softener myth once and for all. Read on to learn all you need to know about why adding fabric softener is a bad choice – and what to use instead.

The Hidden Dangers of Fabric Softener

  1. Expense. Fabric softener prices run the gamut from a few dollars up to tens of dollars for a "luxury brand." Of course, a high-quality laundry detergent is a smart idea, but – given what we’re about to share below – any money you spend on fabric softener is too much.
  2. Loaded with chemicals. For real. Read the labels. Along with being not-so-healthy, these chemicals, dyes, and fragrances can trigger allergies and irritation in anyone with sensitive skin or breathing issues.(Note: if this sounds like you or a family member, learn about our fragrance-free, hypoallergenic detergents here).
  3. Builds up on fabric and your washing machine: Fabric softener works by coating your laundry with fragrance and chemical softening agents that leave waxy deposits behind. No matter how "soft" they feel or good they smell, clothing treated with fabric softener is coated in build-up. Similarly, that residue clings to the inside of your washing machine drum.
  4. Reduces absorbency of towels: This might come as a surprise, because fabric softener makes towels feel "soft." But that softness comes from a chemical coating that actually prevents your towels from absorbing moisture. Fabric softener also builds up on your towel fibers, causing them to lay flat, absorb dirt and minerals from hard water, and grow dingy (see below for our simple fix to this common problem).
  5. Compromises safety: For parents, this is crucial: fabric softeners can ruin the flame-retardant properties of children’s sleepwear, making them potentially hazardous. Safety should always come first, especially when it concerns our little ones.
  6. Damages athletic wear: Expensive workout clothes are made with high-performance fabrics made to wick away moisture. Fabric softeners coat the fibers and compromise this essential feature, leaving you with uncomfortable and less effective performance wear.
  7. Environmental Impact: From production (energy and plastic) to transport (carbon use) to disposal (some non-biodegradable chemicals), liquid fabric softener can contribute to pollution an contribute to pollution of our ecosystem and aquatic life.
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Wool Dryer Balls: The Secret to Soft, Fluffy Laundry

All-natural wool dryer balls are the perfect way to soften laundry and speed up drying time. The best wool dryer balls are made from New Zealand wool and are about the size of a tennis ball. They bounce around and tumble among the items in the dryer to naturally soften fabric, trap lint and pet hair, and shorten drying time by preventing balling and clumping and allowing air to circulate. They even absorb moisture and fluff your laundry to help prevent wrinkles.

Best of all, wool dryer balls do it safely and without the use of any harsh chemicals:

  • Faster Drying: Wool absorbs moisture from your laundry, reducing drying time significantly. This saves energy and protects your clothing from excess heat exposure.
  • Eco-Friendly: Wool dryer balls are biodegradable and made from renewable resources. They're reusable and don't harm the environment.
  • Hypoallergenic: Wool is naturally hypoallergenic, making it an excellent choice for those with sensitive skin or allergies. You can enjoy soft, clean clothes without worrying about skin irritation.
  • Reduces Static: Wool dryer balls also help reduce static cling in your laundry. No more clothes sticking together or sparking when you pull them apart.

Just toss three balls in the dryer along with a standard-sized load; add more ball for larger loads. Learn more about wool dryer balls here and why wool dryer balls are a better choice than dryer sheets.

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Bring Your Towels Back to Life with this Simple Hack

If your towels are not looking so great, it might be the fabric softener or even the cumulative effect of hard water. Even high-quality towels can grow dull, dingy, and scratchy over time. Here's how you can restore and revive towels with two simple items you probably have in your pantry right now: baking soda and vinegar.

  1. Wash your towels in warm water or hot water -- not scalding -- with one cup of white distilled vinegar. This will strip towels of any built-up residue and help restore absorbency. DON'T USE DETERGENT, only white vinegar.
  2. Run the load a second time using only a half-cup of baking soda. This will help freshen and remove any lingering smells. AGAIN, DON'T USE DETERGENT, only baking soda.
  3. Dry according to instructions (WITHOUT any type of dryer sheet).

You can repeat this process when needed to keep your towels soft, fluffy, and smelling fresh. And read more about how fabric softener and dryer sheets can harm your clothes. As always, the Clean Team at Heritage Park is here to answer any of your laundry and stain-removal questions; feel free to give us a call or send an email. We are happy to help!

Heritage Park Laundry Essentials

At Heritage Park, caring for fine fabric is our passion. As lifelong collectors of luxury sheets, towels, and cloths, we found many commercially available "gentle detergents" either damaged our fabrics or didn't get the job done, leaving stains. We knew we could do better. So we developed a formula with the perfect balance of powerful -- yet safe -- ingredients designed to remove tough, set-in stains while remaining gentle on luxury linens. Please connect with us at (800) 977-1841 or visit our store with product feedback or cleaning questions.

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