Fabric Softeners Compared

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Canstar Blue’s 2019 fabric softener review has seen Earth Choice, ALDI Anco, Woolworths Essentials, Comfort, Cuddly, Fluffy, Huggie & Coles compared on their scent, softness of clothes, value for money, packaging design and customer satisfaction.

See Our Ratings Methodology

Most Satisfied Customers | Earth Choice

Earth Choice has hit the soft spot for Aussies in Canstar Blue’s fabric softener ratings, recording five-star reviews on scent, softness of clothes, packaging design, environmental friendliness and overall customer satisfaction.

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Earth Choice softens up Aussies to lead fabric softener ratings

Want fluffy towels and cuddly jimjams, well you’ve come to the right place to review some of the biggest brands of fabric softener you’ll find in Australia. They may not be for everyone, but fabric softeners can be a great way to keep your clothes and fabrics smelling and feeling their very best. The freshness comes at a cost though, so how much would you be willing to pay for super-soft and huggable laundry results?

Every year, Canstar Blue surveys thousands of households around the country to find out how they rate the fabric softener they use. Consumers gave us their feedback on factors including scent, the softness of their clothes, and value for money, with their experiences forming our customer satisfaction ratings. So, which brand topped the results table in 2019?

Earth Choice took top spot in this year’s review, receiving five stars on overall satisfaction, scent, softness of clothes, packaging design and environmental friendliness. It got four stars on value for money.

Best-Rated Fabric Softeners

earths-choice

Canstar Blue’s 2019 review of fabric softeners saw eight brands compared and rated in the following order for overall satisfaction:

  • 1st Earth Choice
  • 2nd ALDI Anco
  • 3rd Woolworths Essentials
  • 4th Comfort
  • 5th Cuddly
  • 6th Fluffy
  • 7th Huggie
  • 8th Coles

ALDI Anco, Woolworths Essentials, Comfort, Cuddly and Fluffy received four stars for overall customer satisfaction, while Huggie and Coles had to settle for three stars overall. Other results of note include ALDI Anco being the only brand to achieve five stars on value for money, while Fluffy, Cuddly and ALDI Anco got top marks on scent, along with this year’s winner.

Brand loyalty is big with fabric softener – a third (33%) of respondents to our survey stated they always use the same brand. This figure has dropped from 51% last year, however, so it’s never too late to try something new if you’re not getting the super-cuddly clothes and warm fuzzy feeling you expect. Let’s explore what’s important when choosing a fabric softener.

What to consider when buying fabric softener

In addition to finding out which brands Aussies love most, our research also identified the key drivers of customer satisfaction when purchasing fabric softener:

  • Scent: 25%
  • Softness of clothes: 24%
  • Value for money: 23%
  • Packaging design: 18%
  • Environmental friendliness: 10%

Let’s now dive into each of these factors in detail and reveal which brands came out on top by absolute score.

Scent

Mother and daughter smelling fresh green towels

Aside from having soft clothes, you’ll naturally want them to smell, natural. Our survey found scent to be the greatest driver of customer satisfaction in fabric softener. However, the appeal of the scents on offer can vary considerably.

  • Our review placed Fluffy on top for scent, followed by Cuddly, Earth Choice and ALDI Anco. Comfort, Woolworths Essentials and Huggie got four stars apiece while Coles had to make do with three stars.

Softness of clothes

One of the primary reasons that most people use fabric softener (it’s even in the name) is to make clothes and bedding feel soft and comfortable. The active ingredients in fabric softener are apparently designed to lubricate fabric fibres and reduce static, which creates more space between the fibres and thus makes them feel softer. It stands to reason that some formulas can do a better job of this than others though.

  • The only fabric softener rated five stars for softness of clothes in our review was the overall winner, Earth Choice. Most of the rest scored four stars, while trailing behind was Coles with three stars.

Value for money

Man wearing white shirt pouring liquid

Fabric softener isn’t a necessity, it’s a luxury that can make your clothes and bedding more pleasant to wear and smell. With this in mind, it’s important for many consumers to weigh up the added cost of using a particular fabric softener versus its potential benefits. A third of survey respondents (35%) said they tend to buy whichever brand is the cheapest or on special when they go shopping, so getting good value for money is quite an important factor. More than two in five (41%) also indicated they use fabric softener with every wash, so the cost will add up in the long run.

  • Budget grocery powerhouse ALDI topped the value for money ratings this year, with its Anco brand taking out five stars. It seems it was tough for many brands to win over customers on value for money though, with more than half of brands receiving just three stars.

Packaging design

It may seem superficial, but the packaging of fabric softener can be important – beyond aesthetics, being convenient to use and having all of the necessary information presented clearly are factors for consumers to consider when deciding which bottle to bring home from the shops.

  • Overall winner Earth Choice was the sole recipient of five stars for packaging design, with the rest securing either three or four stars.

Environmental friendliness

Whatever goes into the laundry will either come out as clean clothes or be washed away with the waste water. Many consumers are concerned about how much damage the products they use in the laundry room may cause to the environment, whether it’s used as greywater on the garden, goes into a delicate septic system, or goes back into the environment through the drain. The level of plastic waste involved in packaging is also a big issue.

  • The only five-star rated fabric softener for environmental friendliness this year was Earth Choice, which is greywater and septic system safe, biodegradable and comes in recycled or recyclable packaging. ALDI Anco and Woolworths Essentials both scored four stars and the rest just three.

Where do you put fabric softener in a washing machine?

Where you add your fabric softener will depend on the type of washing machine you have – top loader or front loader.

  • For a top load washing machine, fabric softeners can be added to the dispensing unit, typically found at the top section of an agitator. For units without an agitator, there is typically a fabric softener drawer in another area or your can dilute it and add it to the final rinse.
  • For a front load washing machine, fabric softeners can be added to the dispensing unit only. It’s often marked with a flower and is typically the smaller compartment in the detergent drawer.

Picture courtesy of Cuddly.

Why use fabric softener?

Fabric softener works in a similar way to using conditioner in your hair! Generally, fabric softeners are claimed to smooth, condition and nourish fibres with a protective formula, while also helping to soften and freshen your load. In addition, it aims to reduce static electricity and make ironing easier, so you can use it for most garments and fabrics – not just sheets and towels. However, it’s important to check the care label on your clothes before you use it.

When NOT to use fabric softener

For those with sensitive skin, including young children, fabric softener is not recommended. Perfumes in fabric softeners are also not ideal for people with asthma or eczema. In some cases, fabric softener can reduce the absorbency of towels and can damage certain types of fabrics such as silk, synthetic clothing and linen.

Washing Machine Reviews

Picture credits: Zivica Kerkez/shutterstock.com

More about Fabric Softeners

Our fabric softener ratings saw a number of brands perform well in different areas:

  • Best Overall: Earth Choice was rated best for overall satisfaction, ahead of ALDI Anco and Woolworths Essentials.
  • Best Scent: Fluffy was rated best for scent, leading the way from Cuddly and Earth Choice.
  • Best for Softness of Clothes: Earth Choice was rated best for softness of clothes, ahead of ALDI Anco and Comfort.
  • Best Value: ALDI Anco was rated best on value for money, leading the way from Earth Choice and Woolworths Essentials.
  • Best Packaging Design: Earth Choice was a clear winner on packaging design with ALDI Anco and Huggie the next best-rated.
  • Best for the Environment: Earth Choice was rated best for environmental friendliness, leading the way from ALDI Anco and Woolworths Essentials.

Frequently asked questions

Canstar Blue surveyed 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased and used fabric softener in the last 6 months – in this case, 1,287 people.

Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.

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