Picture the scene. You’re chucking a load of dirty laundry into your washing machine ― you stuff that musty towel into the drum, pick up that sock you dropped in the hallway on your way, and add your washing powder and fabric conditioner. Right?
Well, wrong, apparently.
“Many people believe that fabric softener should be added to your washing at the same time as detergent. This is incorrect,” washing delivery app Laundry Heap told the Daily Express.
So, here’s when you should add your fabric softener instead, and why.
Fabric softener doesn’t work the same way as detergent
Laundry detergent is pretty magic, when you think about it.
It works because it’s filled with surfactants ― molecules with a water-loving head and a grease-loving tail. The force between the two elements is so strong that, when added to water, surfactants lift oils and dirt from clothes.
In short, detergent benefits from swirling around in water with your clothes; its job is to get into the fabric, clean it, and leave. So adding it to the start of your wash makes sense.
Fabric conditioner is a different beast, though. Softeners work by sitting on top of your clothes ― specifically, they deposit a layer of electrically charged chemicals on top of your clothes, causing them to fluff up and feel, well, softer. And while that sounds like static, the stuff can actually neutralise static-y clothing.
Which means we don’t really want to wash that off. And we definitely don’t want to add it at the start of our wash, where it’ll be rinsed off and become ineffective.
OK, so ― when should I add it?
The second stage of the rinse cycle is the best time to add your fabric detergent to your laundry.
That’s because of how the rinse cycle works. During the first stage, the detergent water is removed from the drum. This is a bad time to add your fabric softener, as it’ll literally go down the drain.
During the second stage of the rinse cycle, though, clean, ‘final-stage’ water is poured all over the clothes. This is the perfect time to add your fabric softener ― it’ll mean the sweet-smelling liquid will stay on top of your clothes, where it needs to be in order to work its softening magic.
Well, that’s my laundry routine changed forever...