Thanks to modern conveniences, most people simply have to toss a load of dirty clothing into the washer and then the dryer to get that fresh, clean clothing feeling. Products such as fabric softener and dryer sheets help complete the automatic washing process. However, fabric softener and dryer sheets are not created equal.
Fabric softener and dryer sheets soften clothes and reduce static cling in the washing and drying cycle. Fabric softener works in the washing machine. You add the liquid to the fabric softener compartment of the washing machine during the final rinse cycle to get the best results. Dryer sheets work in the dryer. You add the dryer sheet in with the wet clothes at the beginning of each load.
Fabric softener works on items you do not normally place in the dryer. For example, you can add fabric softener to delicate loads and then line-dry them. Fabric softener softens thick material such as denim and leaves a lasting scent. Compared to fabric softener, dryer sheets do a better job of preventing static cling on your clothes.
If used incorrectly, fabric softener can cause stains on white and light-colored clothing. Fabric softener does not work well on all fabrics. For example, fabric softener can cause towels to become too soft, which will make them less absorbent. Dryer sheets can pose a safety hazard. You must remove the old dryer sheet and add a new one between each load of laundry or the dryer sheets can get clogged in the lint trap on the dryer and catch fire.
Different brands will have higher levels of effectiveness for both fabric softener and dryer sheets. Different brands will also give off different fragrances, which can cause irritations in people with sensitive skin or allergies. You may need to try several brands before finding one that works for you. Many people prefer to keep both dryer sheets and fabric softener on hand to use with different loads of laundry. For example, you may use dryer sheets for towels and fabric softener for delicates.
Amelia Jenkins has more than eight years of professional writing experience, covering financial, environmental and travel topics. Her work has appeared on MSN and various other websites and her articles have topped the best-of list for sites like Bankrate and Kipplinger. Jenkins studied English at Tarrant County College.