Thread Number: 68395  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
Fabric Softener Sales Plunge - Millennials Don't Know What It Is For
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Post# 911458   12/17/2016 at 00:28 (491 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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That has got P&G, Henkel and others worried, so much so they are setting out to rectify the situation.

Post# 911512 , Reply# 1   12/17/2016 at 13:27 (490 days old) by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        

Consumers are already overcome by fragrances that they are led to believe means "clean". I do use a little sometimes, a half-dose.

It can really get stanky if the detergent and fabric softener scents clash, which is most of the time. Then there is the issue of feeding the cooties lurking in the unseen recesses of the machine, especially front-loaders. Then there is the issue of needing a "deep-rinse" in a Top-Loader to distribute the stuff. Since a lot of the new machines just do a little spritz, people maybe don't get very good results or even have spotted clothing due to lack of water. Ridiculous.

I tend to use it more in the winter to combat static electricity, however it seems only the Downey Original is very effective at it. Back in the day I loved the fragrance in Final Touch. It does not have the same fragrance today.

Post# 911529 , Reply# 2   12/17/2016 at 16:07 (490 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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It's not entirely kids... I have used FS, but not often. I guess I feel that it's just an added expense, and I have concerns about a product that, by design, will leave a chemical residue on something resting against my skin.


I don't recall my mother using the stuff much, either.


Post# 911555 , Reply# 3   12/17/2016 at 20:32 (490 days old) by miele_ge (Danbury, Connecticut)        
never use it now

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Mom wasn't big on it although she did like the Dryer sheets.

When I was a kid, I used to try to get her to buy Downey (we never had a machine with a FS dispenser so I remember sending away for the Downey 'Ball').

Really can't say I miss it, especially for kitchen linens. Was at a friend's house early on in the friendship and took a mouthful of red wine and nearly gagged. The glass was dried with a towel loaded with Fabric Softener and had clung to the inside of the glass. Because my partner was closer to the hosts at the time, I just handed it to him and said "help!". LOL

He gently mentioned it to the host who was mortified and got me a new glass immediately. Never happened again.

If you are following good laundry practices (proper temps, detergent, rinsing, dosing, etc) you shouldn't need it, IMHO.

Post# 911556 , Reply# 4   12/17/2016 at 20:54 (490 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

There is now some ad running about some new softener that preserves fabrics from damage they undergo in the washing machine. There are people who buy clothes and say they will never wear them to keep them looking new. One guy buys a new blue shirt and puts it in a drawer. One woman buys 6 of something so she will always have a new one. The solution is to buy this fabric preserver rinse. The premise on which this is based is not totally beyond the pale. CU stated that in HE machines with less water, there is more wear on fabrics than in tumbler washers of the 50s through the 80s.


Some time in the past couple of decades there was Downy Wrinkle Release (or something) fabric softener which actually worked, but it was discontinued. 

Post# 911586 , Reply# 5   12/18/2016 at 04:42 (490 days old) by Frigilux (The Minnesota Prairie)        

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Good for the millennials! Fabric softener is absolutely unnecessary except for controlling static cling in cold, low-humidity climates. The youngs may be too attached to their phones, but they've simplified laundry: Load the washer, toss in a Tide pod, slide a credit card into the slot and return in an hour to transfer clothes to the dryer.

Post# 911587 , Reply# 6   12/18/2016 at 04:53 (490 days old) by toploader55 (Massachusetts Sand Bar, Cape Cod)        

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Sta-Puf in the Glass Bottles had a nice light scent.

Never used it on a regular basis, but loved it for a new pair of jeans and occasionally for Bath Towels.

Once they switched to plastic bottles they tweaked the formula and never bought it again.

Some are quite toxic and I certainly don't want any of those chemicals especially dryer sheets next to my skin.

When going to visit certain relatives, I bring my own towels and bedsheets as their laundry suffers from Moldy Front Loader Sewer Syndrome.

They don't notice it and are insulted when I don't use their bath towels. If you use their towels after a shower, you smell like a sour kitchen sponge scented with Bounce Sheets to mask the odor.

Post# 911599 , Reply# 7   12/18/2016 at 07:58 (490 days old) by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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Shoot, My grandmother used to practically dump the whole bottle of Downy in her GE FF.  Her towels were so soft they would just smear the water LOL.  My mother has always used small amounts.  I didn't use it much until I installed the water softener back in 2001.  After that, I found I need a little to help eliminate suds...even after 4 rinses in the Asko and 3 rinses and full spins in the Miele.  I use the yellow Suavitel on my towels and whites because it doesn't soften so much but smells really nice combined with Clorox.  Everything just comes out smelling so clean and fresh.  Been using the Walmart GV brand softener in my color loads.  It smells ok too and pretty much goes well with Persil, Tide with febreeze, Gain, Fresh Start, and Oxydol. 


I haven't used dryer sheets in many many years and won't.  I have forbidden Tony to even bring any home from the store no matter what kind of sale they are having!

Post# 911608 , Reply# 8   12/18/2016 at 08:30 (490 days old) by polkanut (Wausau, WI )        

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I picked up some  Suavitel in the blue & yellow bottles (15.2 fl. oz.) at my local Dollar Tree about 2 months ago.  I like that the measuring lines inside the cap seem to equal about ½ of a regular capful.  It leaves just the right amount of softening, and no overpowering scent.

Post# 911615 , Reply# 9   12/18/2016 at 09:01 (490 days old) by mrb627 (Buford, GA)        
No Surprise

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Today's young people are allergic to everything. I'm sure FS is on the list, too.


Post# 911623 , Reply# 10   12/18/2016 at 09:22 (490 days old) by appnut (TX)        

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I think my mom started using them almost from the beginning they were marketed.  Consequently I was exposed from th4e beginning of doing laundry and I've continued.  I've been using Snuggle for over a decade.  My partner was very impressed with how much softer his clothes and linens feel.  (I've also gotten him to stop using bargain brand liquids).  People actually commented how much nicer his clothes looked and liked the slight scent (and he bathes at least once a day if not more). 

Post# 911631 , Reply# 11   12/18/2016 at 10:22 (489 days old) by GusHerb (Chicago/NWI)        

I only use fabric softener during the winter when everything's dry and scratchy, and I just use the unscented Downey. I have a bottle of Snuggle Blue Sparkle laying around if I feel something needs a strong scent for whatever reason.

Oh and I'm a "millennial".

Post# 911642 , Reply# 12   12/18/2016 at 11:51 (489 days old) by Jetcone (Schenectady-Calrods,Monitor Tops,Toroid Transformers)        
Tom that is a riot

jetcone's profile picture
But interesting point about wear n tear with lower water levels !!!

Must investigate that for sure!


Post# 911644 , Reply# 13   12/18/2016 at 11:59 (489 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
I'm still

young at heart, but over the hill as we say, and I am allergic to a lot of scented things now.
I'm a dryer sheet user, but only hypo allergenic/free.
I had a sample of Palmolive dish liquid. It cut grease well but stunk like cheap cologne.

Post# 911669 , Reply# 14   12/18/2016 at 15:59 (489 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Veering slightly off topic, I just purchased a set of fleece sheets and was anticipating the need to start using dryer sheets again (I've never used LFS in my FL machine, except to kick down suds created by P&G's "For Both" powder formula).


Laundering instructions for the new sheets make no bones about proper treatment:  COLD wash (sorry, but I can't do that -- I opt for warm), no FS, dry on low, no dryer sheets.


I was expecting a static nightmare as a result, but they've done something to the fabric that almost completely eliminates static, yet they feel just like other fleece sheets we've had in the past.


Since dryer sheets tend to mess with the sensors inside the drum, I'm glad I don't have to use them with the new bed linens.

Post# 911690 , Reply# 15   12/18/2016 at 18:41 (489 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

What is the fabric from which the fleece was made? They sound very warm.

Post# 911707 , Reply# 16   12/18/2016 at 21:05 (489 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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As others have already said, and the OP article makes clear, no one "needs" fabric softener when you get right down to it.

The stuff was invented to counteract the results of using harsh "detergents" (powders built with lots of alkaline substances), and washing machines that weren't always exactly gentle with laundry.

Other reason was the switch from soaps to detergent left laundry missing the softness that comes from using former. That "built in fabric softener" was the results of fats/oils used to make soap. No matter how much and well one rinsed there would always be trace residue. So what did those clever chops at laundry product makers come up with? An emulsion of fats, oils and water that put back the residue soaps left.

Early and still some fabric softeners were made from the same tallow as soaps. Ironic that people who swore off using that substance for wash day were now paying for pretty much the same (if not diluted) to be added in final rinse.

All this being said there can be some justification for fabric "conditioners". Yes, they do make ironing easier, which is why commercial laundries use them then things aren't starched. Laundry going through those large ironing machines often are treated with FS to prevent rolling, static and other problems.

FS/FC also do give certain laundry a smoother hand, especially when machine dried.

However being as all this may the move towards liquid detergents probably is going far to lessen the need for fabric softeners.

Unlike powdered detergents liquids do not contain washing soda and other harsh salts that can result in laundry feeling harsh. Many of them do contain a certain (small) percentage of soap which accounts for not only cleaning ability but perhaps softness as well.

Post# 911726 , Reply# 17   12/18/2016 at 22:46 (489 days old) by gefilterflo (Newark, Ohio)        

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As a millennial, I can take credit for inconsistent use of fabric softener. I use Persil PowerPearls in my Steam Duet and they seem to work just fine without too much static. I seldom see any suds unless I wash blankets or towels that were last washed in the old top loader.

My brother, on the other hand, prides himself on using so much Snuggle Blue Sparkle that it is a family joke.

Post# 911733 , Reply# 18   12/18/2016 at 23:46 (489 days old) by Mich (Hells Kitchen - New York)        
Young Millennial Here.

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I've honestly never used much fabric softener. Nor have I really ever used Dryer Sheets. Most Liquid Detergent's used in soft-ish water conditions, leave fabrics feeling pretty decent... so long as they make it through the tumble dryer. If they are not tumbled long, they are kinda, iffy. Powder Detergents aren't that bad. and usually do well if you use an extra rinse cycle.

Honestly... if you've ever followed the Tide Pods marketing... you would assume it contains some sort of fabric softener, as well as Bleach, and Stain Remover, and you could magically forget all of those things in your head forever.. so long as you buy Tide Pods. They may have unintentionally killed some of their market by not making things clear enough.

As for me. I don't know. There's a certain store brand Fabric Softener, that I truly love and smells just like the Old Downy April Fresh from my childhood, but beyond that... many fabric softeners are totally "gag-worthy" for me. I honestly can't stand many of the Downy, Suavitel, or Snuggle Scents. They just make me feel sick and in some cases... I even feel like I've been given headaches. They are just awful.

I just like the smell of CLEAN & LIGHT scents. I love the smell of Tide Original, Original Powder and Fresh Spring Water's from a Henkel Brand.

I don't know... if I'm their main focus as a consumer. I may be one of the last millennials still in love with their Powders & lightly scented stuff.

But Still. I am one of their "markets". And they clearly need to wake up.

Post# 911744 , Reply# 19   12/19/2016 at 01:48 (489 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

I don't use softeners-Don't need them.Yes,they smell TOO much and their ingredients make me nervous.SAVE YOUR MONEY!!!

Post# 911753 , Reply# 20   12/19/2016 at 02:58 (489 days old) by toploader55 (Massachusetts Sand Bar, Cape Cod)        

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"I don't use softeners-Don't need them.Yes,they smell TOO much and their ingredients make me nervous"

Perfect Rex.

Post# 911772 , Reply# 21   12/19/2016 at 06:46 (489 days old) by retro-man (nashua,nh)        

I have started using a small amount of fabric softener now that I am using the clean and clear liquid detergents. Whatever they have eliminated out of them is leaving the finished laundry harder and stiffer. More wrinkles and a lot more static out of the dryer. Where does one find a Downy ball now? I have one top loader at the beach without a dispenser. Been using 1/2 of a dryer sheet. It helps but not as much as f/s.


Post# 911773 , Reply# 22   12/19/2016 at 06:58 (489 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Downy Ball

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Are all over eBay.

Post# 911784 , Reply# 23   12/19/2016 at 08:01 (489 days old) by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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I remember Fab and Bold 3 having fabric softener built into them. And they didn't suds up too much. Both of them were on the recommended detergent list (20 years ago)that's still stuck to the top of my Asko. Whatever happened to those formulations?

Post# 911802 , Reply# 24   12/19/2016 at 11:51 (488 days old) by Mich (Hells Kitchen - New York)        
re - Downy Ball.

mich's profile picture
Target sells them for like $2.49. Depending on your area, Kroger might sell them as well. :)

Post# 911803 , Reply# 25   12/19/2016 at 12:02 (488 days old) by DaveAMKrayoGuy (Oak Park, MI)        
X-er by Birth, trapped in the Womb, in long-making...

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Well, it would help if my washer had a fab. soft. dispenser on my washer--that is, I would help sales a little, but I've seen bottles of Downey etc. really skyrocket unaffordable high--so call it an economic factor among current & past generations' budgets...



-- Dave

Post# 911826 , Reply# 26   12/19/2016 at 17:41 (488 days old) by appnut (TX)        

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I was looking at the various advertisements trying to get this target group to use FS.  Every one of the ads whereby someone was using the softener stated to put a dryer sheet in the dryer with the washed load (on top of the FSer).  Good grief!!!

Post# 911834 , Reply# 27   12/19/2016 at 18:19 (488 days old) by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

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Dave, you have a KM toploader, right?  You can order an agitator-mounted softener dispenser to fit, just have to identify which of the several types is right for it.

Post# 911835 , Reply# 28   12/19/2016 at 18:20 (488 days old) by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

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The highly-scented softeners on the market nowadays are to cover the smutz-odor left from cold washing.

Post# 911867 , Reply# 29   12/20/2016 at 00:05 (488 days old) by warmsecondrinse (Fort Lee, NJ)        

I'll cede to the superior knowledge of most members here, but I can't see how one could avoid more wear on fabric in HE TL's because there's so little water.

Dadoes: Agree 100% about the smutz odor from cold washing. IIRC, there was a thread a few years back on how skin oil and oils in general aren't very eco-conscious and rudely insist on solidifying at "cold wash" temps.

In my teen years I had out-of-control oily skin. The polyester of the time and ANY fabric washed with fabric softener made clothes feel outright slimy on my skin. GROSS! At age 16 I was very happy to iron in order to have 100% cotton clothes:-)

As a result of another thread a couple years ago, I now use ammonia instead of bleach and vinegar instead of fabric softener. My clothes come out clean and soft. I should point out that most of my 'dirt' is sweat and skin oil.

Post# 911871 , Reply# 30   12/20/2016 at 00:45 (488 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        
Fleece Sheets

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Tom, the sheets are Sheex brand 100% polyester fleece.  They were on clearance at BB&B, and with an additional 20% off coupon, I got a Cal King set for less than $50.


One thing I've noticed is that each time they're put through the dryer, they leave a thick - though not dense -- layer of lint, so much that some of it tries to escape past the screen.  With the amount of laundering these sheets will experience over the winter, I'm not sure how long they may last, and I'll be vacuuming the dryer's lint screen housing a lot more often.


Post# 911883 , Reply# 31   12/20/2016 at 03:59 (488 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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P&G has also brought this upon themselves by making IIRC a version of Tide that includes "a touch of Downy." Presumably, that formula will leave clothes softer.


There is a comment above about softener dispensers. One advantage of old fashioned top load machines is that one can pause it mid cycle without the machine kicking up a fuss. Thus, one can add softener at the start of the rinse cycle. Many "normal people" would find this inconvenient, but it's not a big deal for me. Indeed, I usually at least make a quick check to make sure the rinse is going well (and see if it looks like 2nd rinse is called for).

Post# 911898 , Reply# 32   12/20/2016 at 07:59 (488 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        
Not just TL HE washers, but all HE washers

Less water in the washer allows the fabrics to abrade each other as they move past each other because the cushioning and lubricating effects as well as the slight suspension the water provides are all lessened . Longer agitation times would also contribute to this.

More highly perfumed laundry products are designed to appeal to the burgeoning Hispanic population because highly perfumed laundry products are part of their culture. Clean laundry, to them, is supposed to smell like there was a floral explosion in the washer.

Post# 912533 , Reply# 33   12/25/2016 at 08:47 (483 days old) by retro-man (nashua,nh)        

Picked up a Downy ball last week in Target for a whopping $1.37. Tried it this week and it works great. Funny never had one of these before. All machines I have had previously had a f/s dispenser.

Post# 912753 , Reply# 34   12/27/2016 at 14:43 (480 days old) by thomasortega (Los Angeles - CA)        

Pg will read this and send me a Christmas card next year.

Am I probably the only person in the US that loves Fabric Softener.

My laundry room should have 3 taps... Hot, cold and FS.

I can notice my husband desperate when i say i need to buy more FS... (Huge bottle of Downy (the blue or the pink one) or Final Touch.

The cats say "OMG that bitch is using FS again... I need my vet NOW!

You know... Los Angeles has to know I'm doing laundry. Actually I've heard that FEMA issues a waxy fruity wind alert even in Kern County. LOL

The final rinse drain must be blueish, otherwise i repeat the rinse with twice the softener.

But one thing i'm really sure. My clothes are great and they feel really soft. My bath towels are almost waterproof (who cares if they don't dry? they're soft!)

And well, I'll keep tossing 3 caps of FS in each load in the Magic Chef. If i'm using the Super Compact Automatic Washer i use only 1 or 1.5 cap. In rare occasions i use the Wonderwash and only 1 capful of downy.

And as soon as I have a tumble dryer, You can be sure i'll toss 5 or 6 dryer sheets on each load (Considering a Magic Chef portable dryer.)

My husband's sinus hate me.

Post# 913209 , Reply# 35   12/30/2016 at 20:09 (477 days old) by cam2s (Nebraska)        
Fabric Softener

The laundry program at my hotel includes the use of Fabric Softener. I actually really like this product compared to most residential softeners. It softens without leaving the linens feeling overly done or "slimy" and it has a very light scent, just enough to tell its there. It also does a good job of killing any suds left over by the final rinse.

I find that most softeners for home have scents that are way to strong and are just vile. I sometimes use a bit of Downy, but I only use maybe a tablespoon or so in my Maxima. Just enough to give them a bit of softness but not enough to smell like a tropical rainforest or whatever for a week.


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Post# 913219 , Reply# 36   12/30/2016 at 21:43 (477 days old) by Sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

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I feel sorry for your mate, Tomás.

My neighbors on one side always seem to use dryer sheets (I can tell from the aroma). Their dryer vents from their garage wall, directly towards the fence. On the other side of the fence is my enclosed patio with louvered low windows, which have an air gap (for ventilation I guess) top and bottom. In any case, I can always tell when they are drying laundry. That smell. Hate it.

Me, I stopped using fabric softener some years ago. For soft towels, I've found a mild liquid detergent is good enough. Although lately I've started adding an ounce or so of white distilled vinegar to the FS compartment. Seems to result in softer towels. And every once in a while, I'll use real grated natural soap (Mexican) and they feel even softer.

I didn't like the way FS encouraged mold to grow in the dispenser, a major reason for stopping its use.

Post# 913696 , Reply# 37   1/2/2017 at 19:11 (474 days old) by henene4 (Germany)        

I've been subjected to fabric softner since day 1 of my life and after 19 years, I'm not allergic to it.

We've been using the same softner (some blue Lenor) for about 20 years, and then switched to Vernel when I was about 10 years old.
We also started using dryer sheets around that time, but therefor didn't use softner on dryer loads.

Now that I'm doing my laundry my self and am drying everything, I switch on and off. Sometimes I use softner, sometimes not. Just depends on mood. I find that the Vernel leaves loads less wrinkeled and the smell (something along the lines of april freshness) isn't to bad.
And with our heatpump dryer, dryer sheets don't do much. The smell was way more prominent in the more intense heat and steam of the previous condenser dryers.

And sure, softner stays on clothing. But so does rinse aid in the DW. Have we all been poisend yet? No. If there would be some kind of intense medical danger, it wouldn't be on the market vor several decades.

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