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Fabric Softener: Easy Greening

Fabric Softener: Easy Greening

We, the Care2 editors, are living proof that there is life without fabric softeners.
None of us have ever used them! But we know many of you do, and judging from the flood of hate mail about fabric softener fragrances we know you are seeking a better smelling product . So here are our best safe product recommendations and a discussion we invite you to share with us about the best DIY practices:

The Issues
We expect that part of the reason we, Care2 editors, don’t ever even think that we need fabric softeners is that we collectively wear mostly natural fibers, which don’t get static cling, the main fabric softener fix. Synthetic fabrics, such as polyester and lycra, are prone to get full of static.

Also, the actual scouring of the fabric in the washing machine will soften the fabric, and the dryer fluffs the fabric even more. Fabric softeners add a chemical to the fabric to “soften” them even more, even when there is no need.

Most fabric softeners add a film to the fabric, which can actually accumulate and dull the colors. Many complain that clothes are left greasy because of this. Fabric softeners also add a huge toxic load to the environment of your home and clothing, from powerful fragrances to suspected cancer-causing neurotoxic chemicals such as toluene and styrene.

Is this why one of the most common email queries we receive is about fabric softeners? That the smell so many of you hate is toxic?

The three main ingredients found in fabric softeners are surfactants (used in detergents), fragrance, and undenatured ethyl alcohol. The later is suspected of causing many health problems, from being a liver toxicant to an endocrine disrupter.

The chemicals in fabric softener chemically manipulate the fabric to be softer, and many of you like that. What to Do?

Choose Green Products
Happily there are some green fabric softeners on the market from companies full of integrity. Products include those from Seventh Generation and Ecover, and are found in health food stores and some supermarkets.

Fabric softeners are acidic, so adding ½ cup of vinegar to the rinse water is one way to experiment with replacing commercial fabric softeners. Another idea floating around the internet is to saturate 1 teaspoon of a natural hair conditioner on a small rag, and put that into the dryer as a homemade dryer sheet. We would love your feedback about whether these work, and what other ideas you have. Please add to the comments on this article!

Read more: Home, Eco-friendly tips, Non-Toxic Cleaning, , , ,

By the Care2 Staff

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.


+ add your own
2:37AM PDT on Mar 21, 2013


8:29AM PDT on Oct 4, 2012


7:23PM PDT on Oct 2, 2012


5:59AM PDT on Aug 30, 2012

Love It!

8:52AM PDT on May 23, 2012


2:03AM PDT on May 23, 2012


12:22AM PDT on May 14, 2012

Thanks for this article.

7:31PM PDT on Apr 10, 2012

Thanks. Just the info I have been looking for. I had recently purchased a front end washer. All the clothes came out stiff as a board. Towels were scratchy as well and all other fabric damaged with creases I couldnt iron out. Solution was vinegar in the water.
For static clothing I always rub my body with hand lotion and even rub my hands with the cream on, over stockings, petticoat/under garments. Quickly over any clothing that might be static. I always carry natural hand cream with me at all times!

11:11PM PST on Feb 25, 2012

I'm happy using Norwex Ultra Power Plus Laundry Detergent & Dryer Balls! The detergent is free of toxic chemicals and still wash really well! If you would like to know more about the products, check out @

11:42AM PDT on Oct 4, 2011


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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