In this post I am talking about the commercially available Fabric softener that has been around for decades, and not the "green" or "eco-friendly" brands of recent. It reduces static-cling, reduces wrinkles, repels stains, and it leaves your clothing with a nice fresh fragrance. Hundreds of millions of dollars in sales has shown that it is a product many can't live without. The problem is, that the products are so laden with chemicals, conditioning agents, emulsifiers, dyes and fragrances, they have become more of an irritant to our bodies and the fabric that makes up our laundry today.
In fact, some manufacturer’s care labels specifically state that you should not use fabric softener when laundering their garments. Why? Because, when used on certain fabric blends, you could be left with unpleasant results such as oily looking spots or discoloration.
Do not use fabric softener on athletic wear. Why? Many manufacturers of nylon, spandex, or synthetic blend athletic wear, do not recommend the use of fabric softeners because of the film that is left on the garment. That stain blocking residue left by fabric softeners is something we would normally be grateful for, however it can interfere with the sweat-wicking, sweat absorption properties of the sports-wear fabrics - on a hot day, that could leave you downright uncomfortable.
Using these softeners on towels and other linens will affect their absorbency. A better alternative for everything would be to use an eco-friendly, or plant based fabric softener.
How to get rid of fabric softener stains if they happen is fairly simple. If it is a small stain, just re-wet the fabric and rub a bar of mild soap on the spot. Rinse and rewash. If you are dealing with a large fabric softener stain, a little more laundry help may be needed. Try pre-treating the stain with your favorite liquid detergent containing bleach alternative and then wash it again with more of the same detergent in the warmest water allowable according to the care label.
How to avoid staining in the first place? Do not overfill the washer with clothes - leave room for items to circulate. If you are really worried - dilute the fabric softener before adding it to the wash.