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Unlocking the Secrets of Fabric Softeners: A Comprehensive Guide to Different Types and Their Uses

different types of fabric softeners and how to use them custom graphic

Many individuals have made fabric softeners a regular part of their laundry routine thanks to the many benefits they offer. From reducing static in clothing, to serving its true purpose of softening up fabrics; if you haven’t been using a fabric softener in your laundry, you’re probably going to want to start. 

Now, the question is – how do you use fabric softener properly to get the best results? Well, there are a few things you need to know about the product if you want to get more than just a pleasant fragrance out of it. To learn all about this from the experts at MaidForYou, keep reading!

What are the Different Types of Fabric Softeners?

woman measuring out blue fabric softener into a white lid

While most people are aware of this, for those who are not, fabric softener comes in various forms – liquid, sheets (known as dryer sheets), and fibre balls (known as dryer balls). Although they are made differently and look entirely different as well, they work in a similar way. 

Here is a brief introduction to the various types of fabric softeners available:


Typically the preferred type of fabric softener in most households, this liquid is generally added when the rinse cycle begins. This way, the laundry detergent gets rinsed off while the fabric softener is allowed to soak into the fibres and coat them. Also known as fabric conditioner, the liquid leaves clothing feeling soft, and smelling great! Additionally, liquid fabric softener often uses a composition that eliminates piling, and keeps the fabric from losing shape and/or colour. 

Dryer Sheets

The most common type of dryer sheet is basically a thin, synthetic material which is layered with a special fabric softening solution. The composition is made to melt with the heat of the dryer which, in turn, evenly spreads through the cycle. Like liquid fabric softener, dryer sheets do a great job at softening fabrics while lending a pleasant fragrance as well.

Dryer Balls

Unlike the other two, dryer balls do not make fabrics softer, but eliminate static instead. They are available in natural and synthetic fibres, both of which do a good job at keeping static at bay. You can also purchase plastic dryer balls which work to keep fabrics from clumping up, and prevent stiffening in clothes. 

IMPORTANT: The quality and performance of some fabrics can be compromised when coated with fabric softener; therefore, it is advisable to check the care tag of each item before using any type of fabric softener in your laundry.

How to Use Fabric Softeners

the back label of a bottle of fabric softener showing how to use instructions

Now that you’ve learned about the different types of fabric softeners and have a better idea of which one will serve your laundry needs best, it’s time to learn the correct ways of using them. Depending on the type of fabric softener in question, the methods may vary slightly, but overall, they are fairly simple and straightforward.

Here are the three common types of fabric softeners available, and their respective directions to use.

Steps to Use Liquid Fabric Softener

  • Locate the dispenser for the liquid fabric softener and measure the amount in accordance with the size of the load of laundry. The label on the bottle will provide you with this information while your washing machine’s user guide will help you identify the dispenser (if you have any doubts). Pour the recommended amount of fabric softener into the dispenser, load your dirty laundry into the drum, and then adjust the washer settings. 
  • For washing machines without a dispenser, you will have to wait till it's time for the rinse cycle, and then manually pour in the liquid fabric softener. Allow the drum to finish filling up before you do this. Alternatively, you can purchase dispenser balls which are intended to be filled with the appropriate amount of liquid fabric softener, and tossed in with the laundry before the start of the wash cycle. The dispenser ball will open on its own when the drum starts spinning toward the end of the cycle, thereby releasing the fabric conditioner in time for the rinse cycle.

Steps to Use Dryer Sheets

  • Under no circumstance is it advisable to load the dryer over its recommended capacity. Along with other issues, if the dryer is too crowded, the dryer sheet will not have space to move around, and its effectiveness will be significantly reduced. So, the first thing you need to do is load the appropriate amount of damp laundry into the dryer for safe and satisfactory results.
  • Next, put in a single dryer sheet at the top so that it can rotate more freely. As the dryer starts spinning, the dryer sheet may get mixed in with the clothes, however, that needn’t be a worry if it has been placed at the top from the beginning of the cycle.
  • When the dryer completes its cycle, take the laundry out along with the dryer sheet. When cool, store the dryer sheet in an airtight container until its next use.

Steps to Use Dryer Balls

  • Similar to using dryer sheets, load the wet laundry into the dryer first.
  • Typically, 2-3 dryer balls are enough for a full load of laundry, however, it is advisable to refer to the product’s label for the recommended usage. Place the dryer balls at the top of the drum and begin the drying cycle. 
  • Once complete, remove and store the dryer balls for your next dryer cycle. 

As you can see, learning how to use fabric softener is as easy as pie! Of course, it helps to understand the difference between the three common types of fabric softeners available, and the correct ways to add them to your laundry so that you get the most out of them. Well, that’s exactly what you’ve learnt here today! So, go ahead and purchase this amazing product to enjoy softer, static-free, and better-smelling laundry!

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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