Eco-Friendly Fabric Softeners
[Update: 06/16/2023, the Sorganics fabric softener is unavailable so we replaced it with a new product] Our definition of eco-friendly softeners come down to the surfactants used. We define it as eco-friendly if it comes from a sustainable source. So what is a surfactant and what to do they have to do with fabric softeners?
Fabric softeners are liquids mixed into the wash cycle of a washing machine which make clothes softer after washing and drying. The active ingredients are soapy substances, called cationic surfactants, that are made of ammonium plus a long carbon or fatty acid chains. Some of these active ingredients are from a petroleum base. An example of a very popular soap chemical is shown here.
Eco-friendly fabric softeners purport to be made of “natural ingredients” perhaps plant-derived and therefore supposedly more gentle to human skin. So a simple question is what are the active ingredients in “ecofriendly fabric softeners”? Could there be a natural source of fabric softener that replaces our chemicals well? To answer that, let’s take a look at one of the fabric softeners we cover below. Our number 1 on the list is the Ecover Ecofriendly fabric softener. Going to their US website we’re able to find the list of ingredients which we post here.
Checking the Claim That Ingredients Come From Plant Oils
In the bottom block, second row, is “TEA-Esterquat” which as far as our amateur scientist eye can see, is the same as triethanolamine quat (see figure above) but with an “ester” attached to it. When we asked the resident chemist on our writing staff, we found a scientific review article about the chemical process for making TEA (July 2002 Journal of Surfactants and Detergents 5(3):211-216). And wonderfully, the review article describes that TEA is made tallow stearine or palm stearine.
Palm-Sourced Surfactants Are More Eco-Friendly
Indeed, the information provided almost checks out. It seems that the TEA active ingredient is derived from a palm source! If so, then yes, the product makers would be able to claim credibly that the fabric softener is “natural” as its from a plant, rather than from a petroleum base.
We suppose an animal source is ok too but there’s a lot of issues around raising farm animals and sustainability so would rather have a clean, sustainable plant source. A plant source would also be responsible in the carbon-sense, because carbon is fixed into the plant when it grows and emitted back into the atmosphere after use and degradation in our waste.
A big question remains whether the palms are sustainably sourced. Palm has a poor reputation for being the target tree of unsustainable farming all over the world.
Yes, Eco-Friendly Fabric Softeners Are Possible, With Some Caveats
Our conclusion is then mixed. Yes it’s possible that the active ingredients of fabric softener is generated from a closed cycle carbon process rather than extracted from fossil fuels. However, that process of harvesting the palm oils and converting it to the active ingredient needs vetting as well. As long as that whole process is sustainable, e.g. low in energy use and therefore low in carbon emissions, uses trees that are farmed rather than from virgin forest, then yes it makes sense to talk about eco-friendly fabric softeners.
Biodegradability and Absence of Harsh Chemicals
For the moment we’ll give the companies the benefit of the doubt, and for you as a consumer a chance to see what are the products out there that we should take a look at. Many brands of eco-friendly fabric softeners are on the market. Some of the most popular include Seventh Generation and Ecover. Both of these brands use gentle plant-based ingredients for both fabrics and the planet.
In addition, they should be free of fragrances, dyes, and other harsh chemicals that can irritate skin or damage clothing. You can purchase eco-friendly fabric softeners in most major grocery stores or online. Prices vary depending on the brand and size of the bottle, but they are generally comparable to conventional fabric softeners. Here are 7 Eco-friendly fabric softeners to keep your clothes looking and feeling great.
Dropp’s eco-friendly fabric softener is a safe, convenient, and effective way to keep your clothes looking and smelling great. The Dropps are small packets that you add to your washing machine along with your detergent. They dissolve completely, leaving no residue on your clothing. Dropps is also hypoallergenic and dermatologist-tested, making it ideal for those with sensitive skin.
In addition, Dropps is vegan and cruelty-free, and the packaging is made from recycled materials. Dropps is an affordable, eco-friendly alternative to traditional fabric softeners. It’s also easy to use – add a Dropp to your washing machine and your detergent, and your clothes will come out clean, soft, and smelling fresh. This is completely a nontoxic fabric softener.
We just talked about Ecover and are pleased that it uses TEA as the active ingredient which can in principle be sourced from palms though we don’t have any data to say whether the sourcing methods are eco-friendly or sustainable. Things being interpreted positively, Ecover’s eco-friendly fabric softener is a good choice because it is gentle on both fabrics and the environment.
The softener is made from natural ingredients that are biodegradable and safe for both septic systems and greywater systems. In addition, Ecover’s fabric softener is free of synthetic fragrances, dyes, and optical brighteners. As a result, it will not cause skin irritation or allergic reactions. Furthermore, the fabric softener effectively reduces static cling and makes clothes feel softer. Ecover’s eco-friendly fabric softener is a good choice for those who want to protect their health and the environment.
The Caldrea Ginger Pomelo Fabric Softener is an eco-conscious laundry solution that delivers impressive results. It avoids harmful substances like Phthalates, Formaldehyde, Artificial Colors, Parabens, and Animal-Derived Ingredients, making it good for both the environment and users’ health. The product is compatible with High-Efficiency (HE) machines and helps to release wrinkles, remove static, and soften laundry, all while imbuing your fabrics with a Ginger Pomelo scent courtesy of a unique blend of essential oils.
Method’s liquid fabric softener is a great choice for anyone looking for an eco-friendly, effective way to soften their clothes. This product is made from biodegradable ingredients, and Method is a cruelty-free company, so you can feel good about using their products.
The Method fabric softener leaves your clothes feeling softer and smelling fresher without any of the harsh chemicals found in other brands. It’s also very affordable, so you can save money while still getting great results. I highly recommend Method’s liquid fabric softener to anyone looking for a safe, effective way to soften their clothes.
ECOZONE eco-friendly fabric softener is a good choice because it is gentle on clothing, effective at removing wrinkles, and leaves fabrics feeling soft and smelling fresh. ECOZONE is also a good choice for sensitive skin or allergies because it does not contain harsh chemicals or fragrances.
ECOZONE fabric softener is safe for all fabrics, including delicate fabrics such as silk and wool. ECOZONE fabric softener is also gentle on the environment and is biodegradable.
Eco-Max fabric softener is a good choice for several reasons. First, it is made from natural ingredients, so it is gentle on your fabrics and skin. Second, it effectively reduces static cling, so your clothes will stay smooth and wrinkle-free.
Third, it is free of harsh chemicals and fragrances, so it won’t cause irritation or allergic reactions. Fourth, Eco-Max is affordable, so you can use it without breaking the bank. Finally, Eco-Max is biodegradable, so you can feel good about using it without harming the environment. Eco-Max is the perfect choice for anyone who wants a safe, effective, and affordable fabric softener.
Biokleen fabric softener is a good choice because it is made of natural ingredients. The company uses citrus and grapefruit seed extracts to soften fabrics. Biokleen’s fabric softener is also free of synthetic fragrances, optical brighteners, and dyes. In addition, the fabric softener is safe for both septic systems and greywater systems.
Biokleen’s fabric softener is biodegradable and has a low environmental impact. The company’s website provides a list of all of the ingredients in their fabric softener. Biokleen’s fabric softener is also vegan and cruelty-free.
In conclusion, there are many eco-friendly fabric softeners on the market. All the products I’ve mentioned are safe for your fabrics and skin. They are also effective at reducing static cling and leaving fabrics feeling soft. If you’re looking for an eco-friendly fabric softener, we highly recommend any of the products I’ve mentioned.