Home » Fabric Softener Vs Fabric Conditioner

Fabric Softener Vs Fabric Conditioner

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folded pink clothes with a pink flower

When there are so many rival brands and different names for washing products, it can be overwhelming and difficult to choose the right one for your laundry needs.

Today we help you to brush up on the terminology of fabric conditioner and fabric softener – is there any difference between these, is one better than the other and what is available on the current market?

With so many things to think about it’s easy to see why people get so confused and maybe you’ve been there – you’ve got to the supermarket with a hope to buy a certain item and instead you find shelves full of names you’re not familiar with, so you end up not buying anything at all.

Luckily, we have the answers to all these questions, and you will soon have all the knowledge you need to make sure your clothes are well cared for, smell fresh and feel soft.

Is fabric conditioner the same as fabric softener?

fabric conditioner being added to washing machine

The simple answer is yes. Although you may stand in the supermarket aisle wondering what product to choose, you needn’t worry – it simply is all in the wording.

Fabric conditioner is predominantly used in the U.K. while the term fabric softener is more commonly used in America. It makes no difference to the overall product – they both do the same thing – soften the clothes in your washing machine.

So, for the purposes of our U.K. audience, let’s delve a little more into the world of fabric conditioners.

What is fabric conditioner?

This is an easy one – it’s a magic liquid that makes our laundry feel soft and smell lovely!

Actually, it is so much more than that. It is made up of water, perfume, ammonium, silicone, phosphoric acid, glycerine, to name just a few, to make a product that has so many reasons for us to use it in our washing regime – let’s see what they are.

Benefits of using fabric conditioner

Smooths fibres – when your fibres are smoothed it means they are less likely to crease or wrinkle, pull, or cause friction. As a result, your clothes will last a lot longer. Smoother clothes will mean less time spent on the ironing – who doesn’t love the thought of that?!

Softens the material – this helps to protect your skin, especially if it is sensitive. Towards the end of your cycle as the fabric conditioner is mixed into the wash, it helps to take any harshness out of your clothes that may be left behind. Leaving you with soft laundry that is gentle on your body.

Fresh smelling laundry – the most common attribute people look for in a fabric conditioner is the fragrance, and there are so many on the market these days (I’ve been known to stand in the laundry aisle smelling the different scents to find my favourite!). There’s something so wonderful about putting on your favourite jumper and getting a whiff of your favourite fabric conditioner. Just note that perfumes or fragrances could irritate sensitive skin, so bear that in mind when choosing.

Retains colour – Some conditioners and softeners claim that they can aid in retaining the colours and brightness in your clothes. This is done by coating the clothes with their formula and lubricating the fabrics to reduce friction that can cause garments to fade.

What are the best fabric conditioners to use?

There are so many different brands that are available online and in supermarkets. You can get cheaper supermarket branded fabric conditioners that will work just as well as the more well-known big brands such as Comfort, Lenor, and Fairy. You can also buy specific ones for sensitive skin such as those from Ecover and Ecozone.

There are a lot of options to choose from, but hopefully you now have one less thing to worry about, safe in the knowledge that conditioner and softener really are the same product.

Alternatives to using fabric conditioner

As with all products you use for your laundry, you need to make sure anyone in your household with sensitive skin or allergies have the best fabric conditioner for their needs. If you cannot find the right one, you may need to come up with an alternative. These could include dryer sheets, white vinegar, or laundry bags.

Always make sure you read your clothing labels, so you know the very best way to keep your laundry in good condition. Any packaging will also show the dosage and any materials to avoid using the fabric conditioner on, so hopefully between that and our information today, you will make the right decision for your washing needs.


Whichever product you choose, for whatever reason, be it the scent, the softening qualities, or to help your clothes last longer. Whether you want to go along the supermarket shelves smelling each one until you find your favourite, or you just want to buy one from the internet, the scents are endless, the benefits are brilliant, and we think you’ll love the difference fabric conditioner can make to your laundry and your skin.

They come in different sizes to suit your households needs and this will reflect in the price too. With such a big variation in price there is guaranteed to be something to accommodate everyone’s budget.

michelle author bio pic

Meet our reviewer – Michelle Vernon

Michelle is one of the lead writers at Washing Check and also holds an editor role. She is a busy parent who understands the needs of daily domestic life and the challenges it can bring.

She genuinely loves cleaning products and equipment, which although is quite strange to many, is a blessing to us here at Washing Check.