What’s the difference between fabric softener and dryer sheets?

whats the difference between fabric softener and dryer sheets laundry header
My bottle of Downy fabric softener boasts that it’s “better together” with dryer sheets (Downy brand, of course). I know a lot of people that use one or the other, or neither, but not a whole lot who use both. It’s probably because many people aren’t sure if they do different things.

Both fabric softener and dryer sheets add scent and softness and reduce wrinkles and static, they work a little differently and don’t have the exact same outcomes. “Fabric conditioner is infused during the wash cycle and goes into the actual fibers of the fabric to condition and protect clothes from stretching, fading and fuzzing, while dryer sheets are heat activated in the dryer and work on the surface to fight wrinkles and static,” explains Mary Johnson, P&G fabric care scientist. “Think of fabric conditioner as the conditioner you apply to your hair after you shampoo, and dryer sheets as the finishing hairspray you apply when you’re done styling.”

They sound like delightful benefits, but not everyone is so enamored with them. Cleaning expert Jolie Kerr basically thinks fabric softener belongs in one of Dante’s circles of Hell. There are definitely some fabrics that don’t mix well with the liquid. Coating towels, microfiber, and athletic gear with conditioner makes them all less effective. Towels won’t absorb as well, microfiber can’t pick up dust as well, and your gym clothes won’t wick away sweat properly. Fabric softener bottles also carry a warning about using them on children’s sleepwear, because it reduces flame resistance. It can similarly affect fabrics such as fleece and chenille. Vinegar offers an alternative for things like towels. It can also soften fabric and reduce static.

Sadly, one fabric softener seems to be unavailable. Sofft was a Kickstarter project from 2014 that promised we’d barely have to wash our clothes again, because it turned your ordinary wardrobe into stain-repellent garments when you added it to the laundry cycle. Think of how naturally soft your jeans would become if you didn’t have to throw them in the washer for months at a time.

Product Review

You don't need Alexa in your microwave, but you'd be surprised what she can do

Amazon has added to its long portfolio of products with the AmazonBasics Microwave, a small appliance that works with Alexa. We took the microwave for a test drive to find out more.

Prep your car for the coming snow and sleet with these cold weather tips

Driving in the winter, whether downtown or across the country, is rarely easy. Luckily, we've put together a quick rundown of a few things you should do to winterize your car before the snow officially hits.

Our favorite fuel-efficient cars are as frugal as they are fun

You don't need to opt for a hybrid or an all-electric ride in order to achieve good fuel economy. These vehicles pack both performance and style, whether you're in the market for a luxury sedan or a game-changing pickup truck.
Smart Home

The best washing machines make laundry day a little less of a chore

It takes a special kind of person to love doing laundry, but the right machine can help make this chore a little easier. Check out our picks for the best washing machines on the market right now.
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.
Smart Home

Wynd’s new air-purifying bundle lets smart home owners breathe easier

Wynd is already well known in the tech industry for its popular Kickstarter-backed air purifier and now the company is launching two new products designed to improve air quality to inform smart home owners.
Smart Home

Google Assistant adds smart home bells and whistles in time for the holidays

Just in time for the holidays, Google Assistant is introducing a bunch of new smart home features, including the ability to reply to broadcast messages, create and use cookbooks, and access enhanced storybook content for kids.
Smart Home

Brew it fast, hot, and flavorful with our favorite coffee makers

Whether you're looking for a simple coffee maker to get you through the morning or a high-end brewer that will impress your taste buds and your friends, you'll find some of the best coffee makers around on this list.
Emerging Tech

These Alexa-stuffed retro phones don’t listen until you take them off the hook

Looking for an Amazon Echo with a cool vintage touch? Los Angeles-based Grain Design is taking old, non-working antique phones and transforming them into amazing Alexa smart speakers.
Smart Home

This alarm clock uses targeted light and sound to wake you, but not your partner

The Wake v2 isn't like your typical bedside alarm. Instead, it wakes you by shining a soft light directly into your face, thereby not disturbing the person sharing a bed with you. Pretty smart, huh?

All the best Amazon Black Friday deals for 2018

Amazon may be an online-only retailer, but that doesn’t mean its Black Friday sales are anything to sniff at. In fact, due to its online status, Amazon has huge flexibility with the range of products and deals it can offer. Here's our…

Xfinity indoor/outdoor camera zooms in on Grinch’s faces and license plates

Comcast's Xfinity Home security cameras can help the police catch Grinches who steal delivery packages from your home. The cameras use artificial intelligence to analyze moving objects and zoom in on faces at your door and license plates.
Smart Home

Airbnb hosts are offering free rooms to those displaced by California wildfires

Several thousand Airbnb hosts in California are opening their homes to help those displaced by the devastating wildfires in the state. Free accommodation is being offered to those affected through November 29.
Smart Home

Here's our comparison of the Lenovo Smart Display and the JBL Link View

Looking for the right smart display? We're comparing the Lenovo Smart Display vs. JBL Link View, two excellent smart displays that are made for different audiences. Here's what you need to know about both displays and what they do.