How to make your clothes soft without damage



Llaundry isn’t just about keeping your clothes clean. Done the right way, it extends the life of your clothes. Products such as fabric softeners, fabric conditioners, and dryer sheets are designed to help you during the cleaning process. To keep your clothes looking great and making them soft in the process, Lyndsee Campbell, laundry expert and marketing manager at a laundry cleaning company Laundry care, knows exactly how to use each product for the best results.

These three products “basically do the same thing,†says Campbell. “The goal is to reduce wrinkles and static electricity. And a lot of people like it to impart the scent.

Campbell says fabric conditioner is just a fancy word for fabric softener. “It’s more of a marketing tactic,†says Campbell. “From everything I’ve really read about ingredients and anything like that, it’s really the same.” These products are added to your washing machine and released during the rinse cycle to leave an invisible residue on your clothes to help them wear better.

Dryer linens are coated with a substance similar to fabric softeners and conditioners and soften your clothes and eliminate static electricity by melting on your clothes. Because dryer sheets work in the dryer, they are much less potent than fabric softeners or conditioners.

Good practices for using fabric softeners and conditioners

Campbell says fabric softeners and conditioners are best used on natural fibers that can lose shape or hair with wear and tear.

“Especially with items that stretch a lot, knits and cotton t-shirts, it can help maintain the shape of the collar and shoulders and where the armpits, armholes and cuffs, and hem … because these tend to stretch sometimes after some wear, â€she says. “With sweaters, when you have friction between your arm and the body of the sweater and then [friction] with linen pants with between the legs. You might find that there is a lot of pilling that would continue, and fabric softener / conditioner would help with that.

Fabric softeners and conditioners leave a coating that can damage some fabrics. Campbell says that while they’re great for natural fibers like cotton or wool, they’ll ruin your workout clothes. “When you leave that residue on athletic clothing, it’s basically collecting your sweat and keeping it hostage,†says Campbell. And sometimes detergent won’t be enough to solve this problem, she adds. In addition, children’s pajamas are legally required to be flame retardant, and fabric softeners can reduce this effect.

You also want to keep fabric softeners and conditioners away from your towels.

“Everyone wants soft, fluffy towels that smell really fresh and clean. But why do you use towels? Drying, â€says Campbell. When you use a fabric softener or conditioner, “you’re drying with something that has a fat or waxy coating, it’s not able to fully absorb the way you would like.”

While fabric softeners and conditioners can make your clothes feel nice, Campbell says she doesn’t use them often, personally or professionally. “As a business, our suppliers don’t really use fabric softener on a regular basis,†says Campbell. “Drier leaves they would use more often. And we suggest you use the free and clear types. This is because most conditioner softeners are made with a waxy lipid substance derived from animal fat. To avoid this, Campbell uses vegan products like Laundress fabric conditioner ($ 19). But most of the time she and her team use distilled white vinegar ($ 13), which reduces static electricity as well as softening.

What to use in the dryer

Because dryer sheets are coated with a substance similar to fabric softeners and conditioners, you should always be wary of using it on synthetic materials like exercise clothes. However, Campbell says it’s best to skip the sheets out of the dryer and use wool drying balls. “Five to six of these in each load soften your clothes. And it’s all wrinkle-free, â€says Campbell.

“What dryer balls won’t or won’t help as much is static electricity,†she says. “But the solution for that is aluminum bullets.” Campbell says to make a small ball of foil loosely. “If you put your index finger and your thumb together, [the ball should be] about that fat, â€she said.

Two or three aluminum balls thrown in the dryer remove negative ions, which are what create static electricity, says Campbell. You can reuse them load after load until you notice that they start to separate. “You don’t want little foil flakes all over your stuff,†she says. Alternatively, she says a large safety pin attached to a washcloth or microfiber cloth will do the same.

Opt for sustainable laundry care

When shopping for laundry care products, Campbell says buying sustainable vegan options is the way to go.

“It’s not just for their respect for the environment, their sustainability, without using animal fat, which is disgusting. But also just the expense, â€says Campbell. “When you buy these products over and over again, they are just plain expensive.” If you can achieve the same result with something like reusable dryer balls, why not use them?

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