Water just as good as some fabric softeners

CHOICE's latest fabric softener test results show some are barely better than water.

Soft scores

CHOICE tested 31 fabric softener brands, and found five to be just as good as water alone. The fabric softeners were tested for both softness and water absorption, with just water scoring 47%. Among the poorest performers were:

 Poor-performing fabric softeners
  • Comfort Fabric Conditioner Pure – costs $8.70 per litre and scored 48%
  • Cuddly Concentrate Collections – costs $10.00 per litre and scored 49%
  • Cuddly Concentrate Sensitive Hypoallergenic – costs $8.99 per litre and scored 49%
  • Fluffy Divine Blends Concentrated Fabric Softener – costs $7.80 per litre and scored 49%
  • Ecostore Fabric Softener – costs $14.00 per litre and scored 50%.

"Fabric softeners are often marketed as cuddly and fluffy but in reality they're just hard on your budget," CHOICE spokesperson Tom Godfrey says.

Three products scored 49%, the same as a home recipe of Epsom salt and bi-carb soda. 

Video: are fabric softeners really worth it?

"Our test results will come as cold comfort if you've just forked out $14 per litre on fabric softener when water would have done a similar job," says Godfrey.

The test was based on an international standard using cloth nappies, sheets and pillow cases on a rinse and spin cycle. Water absorbency is also measured because fabric softeners tend to reduce the water absorbency of towels as a side effect of the softness.

So which fabric softeners performed a bit better than these? Find out in our fabric softener reviews

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