Fabric softeners are supposed to soften laundry, and some also promise to protect the textiles. The Stiftung Warentest was only able to confirm this in a random sample.
Fabric softeners are almost a matter of faith – for some they are simply superfluous, but indispensable to others. Stiftung Warentest has tested 21 fabric softeners, including well-known brands such as Lenor and Softlan, as well as retail and discount goods from Aldi, Edeka, Lidl & Co. At prices per wash, 15 cents and 2 euros hiss. Most products received only average grades. The six test winners with the grade "good" received these only because they make the laundry a little softer than a laundry without fabric softener. The products contain cationic surfactants, which adhere to the surface of the laundry and ensure that the textiles feel softer after drying.
Textile protection and fewer wrinkles? Rather not
But with regard to other advertising promises of the manufacturers – textile protection and fewer wrinkles – the verdict was different. None of the fabric softener managed to crease-free laundry, only a slight time saving while ironing should give it. And in terms of textile care, the products performed "satisfactorily", most even only "sufficiently". The magazine "test" (issue 10/2019) writes: "Colors faded during washing a little faster than without the addition of fabric softener." The fibers suffered comparatively stronger. Only one product achieved a grade of "good" – but this was the clear test loser in the final score.
But at least the surfactants used in fabric softeners are biodegradable. In the test point water pollution, therefore, all tested products cut "good". In addition to surfactants, most fabric softeners also contain fragrances and other chemicals.
The test winners are April Fresh from Lenor (overall grade 2.3), Doussy Sensitive from Lidl (2.3), Tandil Ocean Breeze from Aldi Süd (2nd grade) , 4), Sensitive by Lenor (2,4), Tandil Ocean Breeze by Aldi Nord (2,5) and Denkmit Ultra Sensitive by dm (2,5).