Fabric Softeners Compared

Canstar Blue’s 2021 fabric softeners review compares Anco Soft (ALDI), Earth Choice, Huggie, Cuddly, Comfort, Fluffy, Coles, Woolworths Essentials and Soften on softness of clothes after wash, scent, packaging design, environmental friendliness, value for money and overall satisfaction.

See Our Ratings Methodology

Best fabric softener 2021

Most Satisfied Customers | Anco Soft (ALDI)

ALDI’s Anco Soft range has hit the soft spot for Aussies in Canstar Blue’s 2021 fabric softener ratings, with the brand earning five-star reviews for softness of clothes after wash, scent, packaging design, value for money and overall satisfaction.

Fact Checked Fact Checked

Hold the snuggle! ALDI’s Anco Soft rates best in fabric softener ratings

Who doesn’t love fluffy towels and cuddly pyjamas? Fabric softeners can be a great way to keep your clothes and fabrics smelling and feeling fresh, and soft to touch and wear. In fact, almost half of our survey respondents (46%) use fabric softener with every wash!

To make sense of all the fluff, we asked more than 1,200 Australian consumers for their feedback on the fabric softener(s) they’ve purchased and used in the last six months. Respondents rated brands on the softness of clothes achieved, scent, environmental friendliness, packaging design, value for money and overall satisfaction. Brands that received the minimum survey sample size of 30 responses are compared in our report.

The decision wasn’t hard for Aussies, with ALDI’s Anco Soft line-up achieving full marks in a whopping five out of six research categories ─ including overall satisfaction!

Best Fabric Softeners

Anco Soft ALDI fabric softener review

Here are the best brands of fabric softeners in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s latest review:

  1. Anco Soft (ALDI)
  2. Earth Choice
  3. Huggie
  4. Cuddly
  5. Comfort
  6. Fluffy
  7. Coles
  8. Woolworths Essentials
  9. Soften

ALDI’s Anco Soft topped our fabric softener ratings with five stars in most categories and was also the only brand to achieve a five-star review for overall satisfaction. Most other brands landed on four stars overall, except for Coles, Woolworths and Soften which ended on three stars for overall satisfaction.

Our survey also revealed consumers warmed up to Comfort in terms of scent, scoring it five stars in that category, similarly to Earth Choice when it came to eco-friendliness.

What to consider when buying fabric softener

In addition to finding out which brands Aussies love most, our research also identified what consumers found to be the most important when purchasing fabric softener:

  • Softness of clothes after use: 27%
  • Scent: 23%
  • Value for money: 22%
  • Packaging design: 17%
  • Environmental friendliness: 12%

The majority of our survey respondents said they buy fabric softener to make their clothes feel soft and comfortable (68%), followed by making their load smell fresh (66%). Although, almost one in five (18%) simply add fabric softener to their wash out of habit.

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

Softness of clothes

What is the best fabric softener?

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 softeners are claimed to lubricate fabric fibres and reduce static, which is said to create more space between the fibres and thus make them feel softer.

  • Anco Soft (ALDI) took the lead with five stars for softness of clothes after wash, with most of the remaining brands scoring four stars. Coles, Woolworths Essentials and Soften slightly tumbled at the end on three stars.

Scent

Aside from having soft clothes, you’ll naturally want them to smell fresh. Our survey found that fabric softener scent was the second biggest driver of customer satisfaction in fabric softener. Fortunately, most brands provide a wide selection of options to choose from. There are also unscented fabric softeners and hypoallergenic alternatives for people with sensitive skin.

  • ALDI’s Anco Soft and Comfort ticked the box when it came to scent, both earning five stars. Most of the remaining brands landed on four stars. The only exceptions were Woolworths and Soften, which got three stars each.

Value for money

How to pick the best fabric softener

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 a good idea to weigh the cost of using a particular fabric softener versus its potential benefits. This is what many respondents have done, with 45% having tried multiple fabric softeners to find the best one. Alternatively, nearly a third of survey respondents (28%) usually buy whichever brand is the cheapest or on special, so getting good value for money is a pretty important factor. Nearly half of respondents (46%) also indicated they use fabric softener with every wash, so the cost will add up in the long run.

  • It was pretty tricky for brands to impress consumers on value for money this year, with the majority receiving three stars. Anco Soft (ALDI) was the only exception, rating five stars. Earth Choice, Coles and Woolworths Essentials got four 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 are factors for consumers to consider when deciding which bottle or box to bring home from the shops.

  • ALDI’s Anco Soft proved to have the best packaging design, achieving five stars. The majority of the remaining brands landed four stars, while Coles and Woolworths Essentials ended on three stars.

Environmental friendliness

Whatever goes into the laundry will either come out as clean clothes or be washed away with the wastewater. Our survey shows that many consumers are concerned about how much damage the products they use in the laundry room can cause to the environment, whether it’s used as greywater in 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.

  • Earth Choice remains the only brand to have achieved a five-star rating for environmental friendliness. Most other brands scored four stars, except for Woolworths Essentials and Soften which landed on three stars.

Where do you put fabric softener in a washing machine?

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 top load washing machines without an agitator, there is typically a fabric softener drawer in another area or you 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 add it to your washing.

When NOT to use fabric softener

For those with sensitive skin, including young children, a regular fabric softener is generally not recommended. Perfumes in fabric softeners are also not ideal for people with asthma or eczema. In some cases, fabric softener has been claimed to reduce the absorbency of towels and can damage certain types of fabrics such as silk, synthetic clothing and linen. However, you can find several fragrance-free alternatives and options designed for people with sensitive and hypoallergenic skin.

About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar Blue’s home & lifestyle journalist, Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito. She’s an expert on household appliances, grooming products and all things grocery and shopping. In addition to translating our expert research into consumer-friendly ratings reports, Tahnee spends her time helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services, while highlighting the best deals and anything you need to be aware of.

Washing Machine Reviews

Picture credits: Zivica Kerkez/Shutterstock.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

Canstar Blue surveyed more than 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 six months – in this case, 1,209 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.

Here are the previous winners of Canstar Blue’s fabric softener review:

  • 2020: Huggie
  • 2019: Earth Choice
  • 2018: Huggie
  • 2017: Comfort
  • 2016: ALDI Anco Soft
  • 2015: ALDI Anco Soft

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