Last Updated: December 29, 2022

6 best fabric softeners.

WRITTEN BY Grove Collaborative • 13 min read

Help your favorite clothes stand up to the test of time by using the best fabric softeners you can find. A good fabric softener in your laundry routine can prevent your threads from fading and falling apart in the wash. No one likes washing a new shirt for the first time only to see its color drastically fade or loose strings and start unravelling — talk about annoying. Plus, did you know many fabric softeners use toxic chemicals that can cause harm to your skin and health? It’s true — that’s why it’s equally important to not only find a fabric softener that works well but also one that’s made with naturally derived ingredients.

Check out our list of the best fabric softeners that you can be assured are made from gentle ingredients, so they’ll also be gentle on your clothes and you, too. Shop popular Grove member picks like this Grove Co. Eco-Friendly Fabric Softener, as well as other bestsellers in the laundry world that are out to do good for the planet.

This list of products was determined by ratings and reviews from Grove members.

1. Mrs. Meyer's Fabric Softener

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When it comes to laundry, put Mrs. Meyer's in charge to get the job done right. This Fabric Softener softens your loads of laundry, while making sure to reduce unwanted static on your clothes, too. It’s biodegradable, paraben-free, and phthalate-free. Plus, it’s made with plant-derived ingredients, essential oils, and stain-fighting enzymes, so …

32 Oz, 32 Loads
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2. Grove Co. Eco-Friendly Fabric Softener

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Get softer clothes without being a plastic-waste abuser with this Grove Co. Eco-Friendly Fabric Softener. This natural fabric softener can be used with our Grove Co. Auto-Dosing Liquid Laundry Detergent Dispenser to cut plastic waste in your laundry room by 60%. Plus, it’s plant-based ingredients are high performing to reduce static while softening …

24 Oz
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3. method Fabric Softener

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Escape to a beach paradise or an exotic fruit stand on laundry day — well, only in your dreams with the bright and refreshing scents of this method Fabric Softener. This fabric softener liquid is triclosan-free, paraben-free, biodegradable, hypoallergenic, and suitable for the most sensitive of skin types. Choose from method Fabric Softener ginger …

53.5 Oz, 45 Loads
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4. Seventh Generation Liquid Fabric Softener

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Get your clothes and other laundry its softest by using Seventh Generation Liquid Fabric Softener, a great alternative to dryer sheets. For less than 20 cents a load, even your dirtiest laundry will come out smelling like fresh lavender. Plus, this softener is non-toxic, biodegradable, and dye-free for a safe choice for everyone in your household. …

32 Oz
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5. Caldrea Fabric Softener

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Lighten the load on laundry day with Caldrea's Fabric Softener. Natural essential oils and plant-derived conditioning elements work like magic to minimize wrinkles, keeping garments soft and smooth — no iron required! Compatible with HE and regular machines, Caldrea's specially formulated, biodegradable softener will keep your clothes feeling extra …

32 Oz
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6. Seventh Generation Dryer Sheets, Fabric Softener

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A cheaper alternative to liquid fabric softener, these Seventh Generation Fabric Softener Sheets still get your laundry its softest using only essential oils and plant-based ingredients. They’re USDA certified, Leaping Bunny–certified, and recently have been redesigned for even better static control. Plus, these Seventh Generation dryer sheets are …

80 Count
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What does fabric softener do?

To put it simply, fabric softeners were created to help protect your clothing through your washing machine’s harsh wash cycles. The best fabric softeners will not only freshen and soften your clothing, but they’ll also prevent pilling and color fading that can definitely happen wash after wash. This is super important when it comes to clothes you love or your more expensive pieces. You may not care too much when it comes to your workwear or workout clothes, but when it comes to your favorite cardigan, dress shirt, or irreplaceable items, it's important to take good care of your best clothes.

You also may not know this, but the best fabric softeners for sensitive skin types may not be a liquid fabric softener. It may actually be wool dryer balls or even dryer sheets. If you have sensitive skin and a liquid fabric softener is causing you irritation, you should try a substitute to see if it works better for you.

Is fabric softener the same as detergent?

Don’t worry, we don’t think any question is a silly question. If you’re not the main laundry doer in your household, you may not know that fabric softener and laundry detergent are different, and that’s okay. The best fabric softeners are going to help do just that — protect your clothing during the wash cycle by softening the washing process. Laundry detergents, on the other hand, are made to make sure your clothes get their cleanest by removing dirt, oil, stains, and other nasty buildup that’s been left behind.

Wondering which is the best natural fabric softeners to use on your household’s laundry? See our list above for what we (and Grove members) think are the best fabric softeners, or you can try a starter kit like this Grove Co. Eco-Friendly Fabric Softener Set that gives you the product and the tools you need to get going.

How do you get fabric softener stains out of clothes?

We’ve all done it once (or maybe even twice) before — accidently dropped fabric softener onto our clothes while we were trying to pour it into our machine to wash a load of laundry. It leaves behind a grease-ball-looking stain that makes us so upset with our shaky hands. But the good news is these fabric softener stains usually aren’t permanent. If you need to battle these stains head-on, then grab some soap, and follow these steps below:

  • Use hot water to wet your stain
  • Get a natural bar soap (a white one) and rub your clothing’s stain with the soap
  • Put your clothing item in the washing machine to wash, but avoid using any fabric softener on this load
  • After the washing cycle, your stain should vanish, and you should be able to dry your item like normal

If bar soap isn't cutting it and didn’t get rid of your stain, you can always try this Grove Co. Stain Remover Spray, too. Read this real review of one Grove member who tried the stain remover on three of her family's toughest stains.

What is Grove Collaborative?

At Grove, we take the guesswork out of which products are good for you and your home. Every product meets strict standards for being nontoxic, effective, sustainable, and cruelty-free. Once you find products you love, we ship to your home on a flexible, monthly schedule.

If you're ready to make the transition to natural cleaning, beauty, and household products, shop Grove Collaborative's natural products for the eco-friendly tools to tackle the job.

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