Does Fabric Softener Clean Clothes? How This Laundry Product Works

You probably do laundry a thousand times now. It’s always such a nice feeling when your clothes come out clean, soft, fresh, and ready to be put on. 

One of the most significant impacts on the washing clothes process is having the right fabric softener. Without applying fabric softener, your clothes would still be clean but wouldn’t have such amazing results as before.

Playing such an important role, does fabric softener clean clothes as well? Let’s check out how your usual fabric softener can possibly do to your clothes.

This image on Clairoliviawayman by Mike Mozart

Does Fabric Softener Clean Clothes?

Fabric softener (or fabric conditioner) has been produced since the early twentieth century and has become a usual product for the washing process. It is famously known for its unique functions of softening fabric, keeping texture smooth, and bringing a fresh touch to your clothes.

That’s why fabric softener is a must-have product if you wish your clothes always look seamless. However, despite the great benefits, the fabric conditioner is solely a cherry on top of a cake. This means it cannot replace a laundry detergent role that is cleaning clothes.

Unfortunately, the answer to the question: “Does fabric softener clean clothes?” is negative.

But don’t you want to know what it actually does to your clothes to get such good results?

Read: What You Should and Shouldn’t Dry Clean?

What Does Fabric Softener Do to Clothes?

Did you know fabric softener can wash burnt pans as well? This alternative benefit is due to the oily effect combined by these chemicals of the product: Quaternary ammonium cations (commonly known as quats), polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), amine-functional silicones, silicone gums, emulsifiers, fragrant and preservatives.

Quats are the main ingredient of fabric softener because it can attract and wrap the fabric fibers. This interaction breaks the electrical forces and releases the static cling. Another function of quats is providing lubrication and softening the fabric because part of quats is fatty. However, it’s hydrophobic which means insoluble in water.

That’s why it needs different types of emulsifiers that help the quats’ molecules to dissolve in water and penetrate the fabric easily. Other ingredients such as PDMS and silicones are for enhancing the soft effect and ease of ironing. Lastly, fragrant is added for the fresh aroma on your clothes.

Read: Prepare Your Clothes For Dry Cleaners – 6 Tips To Protect Your Garments


As laundry product consumers, we all need to have knowledge of the product function and how they contribute to the washing process. Some products are necessary for the process and some are enhancers for greater effect.

Fabric conditioner is a great product to improve your clothes quality but does fabric softener clean clothes?

Through our discovery of the benefits and function of the product, it is certain to say it cannot act at the same time as laundry detergent no matter how good the product is. As the product’s user it is best to utilize all the strengths of it to have clean, fresh and soft results.

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