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PSA about risks of common laundry product invites long list of safer alternatives: '[It] ruins machines'

"What an unholy mess that had built up!"

"What an unholy mess that had built up!"

Photo Credit: iStock

One Redditor has taken to the platform to expose the problems with fabric softener, detailing the issues it causes for clothes and washing machines.

The scoop

Posting on the r/CleaningTips subreddit, the user said that fabric softener "ruins machines," increasing the chances of mold or mildew problems while also clogging pipes with unwanted byproducts.

As the original poster observed, many fabric softeners contain synthetic wax or animal fats, which can congeal in machinery and block drainage pipes and other essential machine parts. 

One TikToker has shown just how damaging it can be to washing machines, posting a video of a machine full of gunk that seems to have spread throughout — even as they disassemble it. 

"It's not even good or beneficial to any type of fabric!" the Redditor continued. 

Fabric softeners have been found to remove fire-resistant coatings on towels and children's clothes and generally reduce the softness of materials.

What they suggested instead was using regular white vinegar. While they noted that cleaning product company Downy has a fabric softener alternative, it's "mostly just fragrance."

How can avoiding fabric softeners help?

Fabric softeners contain harmful chemicals that can pollute water supplies and harm marine life after they drain away from a machine. They are also often made from petroleum, which is harmful to the planet from extraction to use. 

Even if dirty fuels aren't burned, extraction alone can release planet-warming gases into the atmosphere. These gases trap heat and lead to rising global temperatures, increasing the chances of extreme weather conditions like deadly storms, floods, and heat waves.

Swapping out fabric softeners for white vinegar can also save you money on your weekly shop, saving as much as $350 over a 10-year period. 

What everyone's saying

Many people in the comments offered their own alternatives for fabric softener.

"I live somewhere with very hard water and haven't used fabric softener or dryer sheets in at least 10 years. Occasionally I'll use vinegar with towels," one Redditor said, also offering their own solution. "Dryer balls and aluminum foil ball to decrease static are what we use."

Others shared their own horror stories of fabric softener usage.

"I just had to deal with our fabric softener dispenser," another added. "It had become clogged, so a little Google and YT later I knew what to do. What an unholy mess that had built up!"

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