Do your shirts feel like cardboard? Do you long for thick fluffy towels instead of itchy, scratchy ones? Just because you don’t want to pour a bright blue, petrochemical based liquid into your washer doesn’t mean you can’t have soft, sweet smelling clothes.
We’ve found the six best eco-friendly fabric softeners that will have you loving to do laundry.
There’s even an all natural, budget friendly option that smells great!
Top Six Eco Friendly Fabric Softeners For Fresh Smelling Clothes
On the surface, eco friendly laundry seems like a snap. But there is more to a sustainable laundry routine than just using your eco friendly laundry basket to carry your clothes to your off-grid washing machine. Often times a key component is line drying your clothes. While skipping the dryer certainly helps cut down on your carbon footprint, it can leave your clothes feeling like cardboard.
That’s where fabric softeners come in. But if you want to stay eco-friendly, you have to give careful consideration to what besides water goes into that washing machine. Especially if you have it integrated into a home graywater system.
But don’t you worry. We’ve waded through the options to find the top six eco friendly fabric softeners on the market, so you can have soft clothes and help save the planet.
We’ve even assembled them all into a handy chart for you.
Still uncertain which fabric softener will have your clothes smelling the freshest? Check out these in-depth reviews to learn more.
Soft, sweet smelling clothes what everyone wants. And that’s just what you get when you use Botanical Origin Plant-based Fabric Softener. Their powerful plant based formula leaves your clothes soft to the touch and mildly fragrant.
Not only does it work great, but it’s also better for you and the environment. This hypoallergenic fabric softener is free of dyes, parabens, phosphates, choline, and artificial preservatives. In fact, they make it with 71% USDA Certified Biobased ingredients.
Whatever way you choose to wash your clothes, this fabric softener works. You can use it in an HE washer or even if you wash by hand. And it is septic system safe. Plus, you can expect to get 48 loads per bottle — that’s a whopping 96 loads with the two pack.
The only complaint we have is a small one. The fragrance, while inspired by nature, isn’t naturally derived. But we like everything else about this fabric softener so much that it still remains our top pick!
Eco friendly fabric softener shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. And it doesn’t have to ATTITUDE Hypoallergenic Fabric Softener delivers you the highest EWG Health standards without breaking the bank.
The same ingredients that are bad for the earth are harmful for our bodies — go figure. So, ATTITUDE doesn’t use any harsh chemicals and is free from parabens, dyes, artificial fragrances, and skin irritating allergens.
But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. This vegan, cruelty free formula leaves your clothes feeling soft with a slight scent. Choose from pink grapefruit, citrus, or wildflowers. Just keep in mind natural scents are not as strong as artificial fragrances. You will get a hint of perfume rather than feeling like you are standing in a florist’s shop.
Also, heat dissipates essential oil based fragrances, so the scent will be stronger on line dried clothes than on clothes that you dry in a dryer.
The first thing you notice about Mrs. Meyers Liquid Fabric Softener is its unique basil scent. And then you wonder why you never considered this invigorating scent before. Mrs. Meyers uses essential oils to bring natural scents straight from the garden to all their products. And it shows– or should we say smells.
But there is more to Mrs. Meyers than just a fresh scent. They use all plant based ingredients to make a powerful formula that will soften your clothes and reduce static cling. It is so powerful you just need half a cap full per load.
And this six pack delivers fresh smelling clothes for a total of 196 loads! That’s an awful lot of fresh smelling towels drying on the line!
Number of Loads 25
- Scent Apple Blossom and Almond
Ecover has been passionate about environmentally friendly laundry since 1979. Over the years, they have continued to improve their formulas, maintaining the highest standards. And Ecover Apple Blosson and Almond Fragrance Fabric Softener is no exception.
In 2017 they were able to remove the palm oil in the fabric softener (even though it was sustainably harvested) and replace it with a more sustainable plant based softening agent made from French rapeseed oil.
That’s not the only way this fabric softener is eco friendly. They are actively working on solutions to our single use plastics problem ranging from using recycled plastics and polypropylene to seeking out new biodegradable materials to help eliminate plastics altogether.
If you are looking for a product with a long history of commitment to eco friendly laundry, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better option than this one.
Are you tired of traditional scents like lavender and want to mix it up a bit? Try Ecozone Fabric Conditioner with a fragrance called “Happiness.” I’m not sure what happiness smells like to you, but in this fabric softener, it is a bit of a tropical dream vacation.
The scent has notes of pineapple and coconut as well as amber and patchouli. But in the end, most people agree the overpowering note is banana but not in a bad way. The scent is most potent straight out of the bottle but tends to fade if you dry your clothes in a hot drier. On the other hand, it does linger if you line dry your clothes.
Either way you choose to dry them, you will find that they come out soft as silk. Even those old towels that were stiff as a board before.
So people think it requires natural or artificial scents to be added for clothes to smell clean. But not everyone feels that way. If you are looking for a fragrance free fabric softener, NATURE CLEAN Baby Fabric Softener is for you.
If you are sensitive to dyes or fragrances, you know how sensitive your skin can be. But this fabric softener is hypoallergenic, and dermatologist tested. I mean, heck, it’s designed for sensitive baby skin.
But not only is this fabric softener gentle enough even for babies’ skin, but it is also gentle on Mother Nature as well. Cruelty free and vegan, it is made with 73% USDA Certified Biobased Ingredients. You can safely use this in any type of washer. It is septic and greywater safe!
And to help further cut down on waste, the plastic bottle is made of 100 % recycled plastic.
What Makes A Fabric Softener Eco Friendly
With all the greenwashing that goes on, it can be hard to tell what is really eco friendly nowadays. And fabric softener is no exception. At first glance at the labels, eco-friendly fabric softeners still seem to have a list of unpronounceable ingredients. So you are probably wondering– what gives?
Well, we are here to answer that for you. Let’s start by talking about how fabric softener works. Once we know how it works, we can then look more closely at what makes one fabric softener more eco friendly than another.
How Fabric Softener Works
Fabric softener is an interesting product. It actually lubricates or greases the individual fibers in your cloth to make them softer, easier to iron, and static-free. Early fabric softeners mixed natural oils, like olive oil or tallow, with detergents to soften and coat the fibers (1).
Nowadays, however, most fabric softeners use a cocktail of petrochemicals to get your clothes feeling soft to the touch. Not only can these chemicals irritate your skin, but they also wash down the drain and pollute the environment.
The other thing fabric softener is known to do is to leave your clothes smelling fresh and clean. But it doesn’t do that by making your clothes any cleaner. They simply add perfumes and fragrances that linger on your fabric. Usually, these are also chemically derived.
So how can fabric softeners be more eco-friendly? Let’s see!
Plant based Ingredients
Many companies, like Ecover, are looking for new options to replace petrol based chemicals. And the best way to do this is to get creative with plants and plant based ingredients. Products like Botanical Origins Plant-Based Fabric Softener are made with USDA Certified Biobased products.
Natural ingredients are biodegradable and less likely to cause skin irritation and allergies.
But not all plant based ingredients are created equal. Just because it comes from a plant doesn’t mean it is necessarily eco-friendly. Palm oil, for example, is a great example. Many people are against palm oil because of the damage that comes from harvesting it.
So when choosing an eco-friendly fabric softener, sometimes knowing it’s plant based isn’t enough.
- Fabric Softener. Retrieved from: http://www.madehow.com/Volume-7/Fabric-Softener.html#:~:text=A%20fabric%20softener%20is%20a,and%20impart%20a%20fresh%20fragrance.
Rachael and her husband arrived on Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua in 2011. There they founded El Jardin de la Vida, a tropical micro food forest, focusing on Sustainable Living Education. She teaches others to build with natural materials, live off-grid, and appreciate slow food.