Save on fabric softener when tumble drying

Fabric-conditioner If you are putting a load of laundry into the washing machine and you know you will be drying it in the tumble dryer, do you still use fabric softener? Did you know that you don’t need to? Here’s an environmentally friendly tip to save on fabric softener (conditioner) when tumble drying.

Because tumble drying laundry naturally softens the fabrics anyway (as long as you don’t over dry them), fabric softener shouldn’t be required. I tested this out myself by washing a load of towels without adding any fabric softener. When they came out of the dryer they felt normal i.e not hard.

I took a towel from the airing cupboard, which had been previously washed and dried using fabric softener. I did a blind test with my wife against the towel I’d tumble dried without any fabric softener. There was no significant difference at all.


Of course using the tumble dryer instead of hanging laundry out to dry naturally is not environmentally friendly, but most people will be tumble drying some of the time any way. So using the, “every little helps” philosophy it’s still good to save something whenever possible.

Another reason not to use fabric Softener on towels

Here is another reason not to use software on towels. Fabric softener has a water-proofing effect. It adds a greasy-like coating on the fibres that makes them feel soft.

This can affect how absorbent a towel is, so it isn’t ideal for towels. I expect a lot of people wouldn’t like rough towels so will still use softener. If you’re hanging towels out to dry instead of tumble drying them you may still not need to use softener.

However without the softening effect of tumble drying, not using softener may leave towels a little rougher. Try not to over dry them on the line, which will help.

But not using softener will leave them more effective at drying. It might be worth giving it a try without though to see if you can use less.

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8 thoughts on “Save on fabric softener when tumble drying”

  1. Nickynockynoonoo

    You’ll find the towels will dry you better too. Conditioner makes them less absorbent.

  2. Quote:

    ‘I wonder if there are still housing estates where hanging washing out on the line is banned… purely for aesthetic reasons?’

    Here in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, UK, the majority of flats and some houses have this ban written into their deeds, so even owner-occupiers are prevented from drying washing outside. I suppose we local residents should club together and try to change these out-dated laws, especially with global warming now such a concern.

    Unforunately, I believe the local Council would probably object, as they are overly obsessed with aesthetics (being a popular seaside resort), to the point where, for example, many properties in ‘conservation’ areas look hideous due to rotten window frames as the Council won’t let residents replace them with modern units, even wooden-framed double glazing!

  3. Nickynockynoonoo: That’s a good point, one which I forgot to make. The fabric conditioner has a water-proofing effect on towels and reduces their absorbancy.

  4. Haushinka: I would think the time has come when the argument that it looks prettier even though it’s damaging the environment will no longer stand up.

  5. Joshua Seaman

    Hi , Just discovered that according to a lease we can’t see and haven’t seen that washing is banned from being pegged out on our balcony, no reason given other than its in a twenty year old lease. any ideas were to go from here if we want to actually have dry clothes ? Thank you

    P.S Hope this isn’t too far of the topic , thanks

  6. Joshua: Rules like that were made many years before environmental issues became important. The rules are simply to make the estate look nicer. You can try arguing it’s damaging the environment (and costing you money) by being prevented from drying laundry naturally (and presumably being forced to use a tumble dryer).

    You’d presumably have to take it up with the lease holder. If necessary you could try taking advice from the local council or consumer advice centre to see if such a rule is still relevant.

  7. I find the thought of being banned from hanging out washing hilarious- but suppose Alan Bennett would find hung out washing “common”.

    On a different matter also mentioned here, why was fabric conditioner invented- it did not exist when I was a child?

    Another moneyspinner from the detergent business?

  8. only if it is known that washing is hung out may someone take action, so put out a small clothes airer with something in front blocking people from seeing it! :) e.g. make a tent like structure on top or a high barrier in front.
    To not allow people to dry clothing is utterly daft. Housing should house people as a primary function not an additional feature.

    Totally fantastic and informative site by the way!

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