Difference between Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets
Fabric softener is a product used to prevent static cling in laundry and to make it softer. Fabric softener is a liquid that is added to the final rinse cycle of the washing machine load. Added manually or by automatic dispenser, fabric softener is used most often in laundry that will be dried on a line.
Dryer sheets are essentially fabric softener applied to tissue-type material. Used for the same purpose as fabric softener, dryer sheets are placed into a clothes dryer where they work to eliminate static cling. Dryer sheets have a multitude of uses other than to discharge static, as they can also be used to keep dresser drawers fresh and fragrant.
Varieties of Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets
Fabric softener is a liquid that is available as a separate product or incorporated within washing powders. Some fabric softeners are marketed to make the chore of ironing easier and even dry faster that normally laundered fabric. When fabric softener is combined with the washing soap it is claimed to save money, but some feel the softening properties are diminished.
Dryer sheets are available in many fragrances and chemical compositions. Dryer sheets work in the same way as liquid fabric softener, but are added to the clothes dryer instead of the washing machine. The chemicals on a dryer sheet are designed to not only prevent static, but also lubricate fabrics to make them resistant to wrinkling and also stains.
Benefits and Downsides
The obvious benefit to both fabric softener and dryer sheets is that static cling is eliminated. When fabric softener and dryer sheets work as described, they actually do make ironing an easier task and prevent liquid from staining the fabric when dry.
The benefit of preventing liquid from staining is a likewise downside when considering the use of towels that have been laundered with the use of fabric softener and dryer sheets. When using products to soften the fibers of a towel, it actual decreases the absorption ability of the towel, creating a less than desirable effect.
Alternatives to Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets
There are times that the use of fabric softener and dryer sheets are not warranted. Allergies make it difficult for some people to use these products and when this is the case, there are some alternatives. Unscented fabric softeners and dryer sheets are available that work to remove static cling, but do not contain the offending allergen ingredients.
Vinegar used in the rinse cycle of the washing machine will also make laundry soft, and does away with much of the pesky static cling. Organic fabric softeners and dryer sheets are on the market and are priced in the same range as normal options.
Similarities and Differences
- Fabric softeners and dryer sheets both work to get rid of static cling and make clothes softer. Fabric softener is a liquid product that is found commonly in most grocery and discount stores and added to the rinse cycle of the wash. Dryer sheets are small tissue-type products that are coated in fabric softener and added to the laundry in a clothes dryer.
- Chemicals in the fabric softener and dryer sheets work to make clothes softer and prevent them from building up static cling.
- The belief that dryer sheets contain carcinogenic ingredients has led to many people doing away with chemically coated dryer sheets and moving toward all natural solutions.
- High Efficiency washers can experience buildup or potentially decreased efficiency when liquid fabric softener is used consistently at the same time laundry is washed on a cold temperature setting.