No matter what kind of fabric softener you prefer, from the traditional liquid kind to the more eco-friendly dryer balls, the best fabric softeners will leave your clothes feeling soft and smelling fantastic. They’ll also help fight static and keep your duds (mostly) wrinkle-free. Below, I’ve rounded up fabric softeners to suit a variety of preferences and budgets.
But, before you start shopping, you’ll want to consider the pros and cons of each method, since there are some nuances:
- Liquid fabric softeners: If you want your clothes to be permeated with scent and protected from stretching or fading, a liquid fabric softener is the way to go. However, some liquid softeners contain chemicals that have been linked to some serious health issues, so it's worth it to read the labels. Plus, liquid softeners may require that you clean your washing machine's dispenser often to prevent build-up.
- Dryer sheets: Dryer sheets offer simplicity and portability, and they’re particularly handy for anyone who uses laundromats. They’re also inexpensive and more effective at eliminating static cling than dryer balls — but similar to liquid softeners, some brands coat their sheets in harsh chemicals that have been linked to a number of illnesses.
- Dryer balls: If the ease, eco-friendliness, and economics of reusable dryer balls appeals to you, consider investing in this option, but note that they can be noisy and don’t add fragrance to your clothes unless you get one that can be infused with a fabric-safe essential oil. That said, dryer balls are a nontoxic alternative to dryer sheets, and they can even reduce drying time.
- Dryer cloths: Reusable dryer cloths are nontoxic and relatively eco-friendly. They’re quieter than dryer balls, easier on your machine than dryer balls or liquid softener, and many are also hypoallergenic. The only downside is that they don’t provide scent unless you sprinkle them with a few drops of essential oil.
Whatever your preferences, there’s a fabric softener below to fit your needs.