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Laundry expert shares common product making clothes less effective at absorbing sweat: 'I'm never buying it again'

"Why am I this age without knowing this?"

"Why am I this age without knowing this?"

Photo Credit: TikTok

Many of us know and love fabric softener — and may have been using it as part of our laundry routine for years. Unfortunately, it might be time to part ways with this fair-weather friend. Melissa Pateras (@melissadilkespateras) has taken to TikTok to demonstrate one big way your fabric softener is working against you. 

However, she has a simple alternative. 

The scoop

According to Melissa, fabric softener coats your clothes in a chemical layer that prevents them from breathing or absorbing moisture — aka, your body fluids. When that moisture can't be absorbed, it just sits there against your skin. 

@melissadilkespateras Replying to @Melissa #laundrytok #laundry #laundryday #fabricsoftener ♬ original sound - Laundrytok | Melissa Pateras

Melissa demonstrates this by pouring water onto two identical pairs of underwear and two identical T-shirts. One of each has been washed in fabric softener; one of each has not. When water is poured on the underwear and T-shirt washed in fabric softener, it sort of sits on top of the fabric and has difficulty absorbing. The others are soaked straight through. The water, of course, represents those bodily fluids. 

"Look, I'm not saying you pee your pants," Melissa says, "but we all sweat!" 

Melissa advises replacing your fabric softener with a quarter to a half a cup of white vinegar and says you'll be happy with the amount of softness. 

How it's helping

In addition to being economical, nixing the fabric softener is also good for the environment. 

In fact, you likely already have white vinegar at home. If not, you can buy 64 fluid ounces at the grocery store for less than a cup of coffee

According to Rinse, toxic elements in fabric softener "threaten marine life and introduce harmful substances into aquatic environments." 

Additionally, these kinds of products often come in plastic containers, contributing to the 40 million tons of plastic waste thrown away each year in the United States. When we have a product in our arsenal that meets a variety of different household needs, such as white vinegar, we are able to make fewer purchases and reduce our plastic usage. 

And fortunately, many people have shared a variety of simple and environmentally friendly ways to clean and do laundry. For example, one woman uses distilled white vinegar and water instead of Windex to make her glass sparkling, while another uses boiling water to get rid of fabric stains. The opportunities to get creative with the ways we practice personal hygiene and household cleanliness are seemingly endless.  

What everyone's saying

TikTokers took to the comments section of the video to praise Melissa, to reinforce her advice, and to ask questions. 

"If I stop using fabric softener now on my older clothes will they eventually wash out all the old softener??" one person asked, to which Melissa replied, "Yes." 

"So informative!" another user commented. "Why am I this age without knowing this?"

"You just sold me," a third person said. "I'm never buying it again."

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