Differences between Laundry Detergents, Fabric Softener VS Conditioner


Articles, products, and services offered on this site are for informational purposes only. We are part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. Amazon.com is compensated for sales resulting from links on our website.

Please review our disclaimer before acting based on anything you read or see.

Clothes accumulate many stains during the day, including loose hair, sweat, dead skin cells, dust, etc. It must therefore be washed thoroughly with an effective detergent that does not remove stains and grime well. If you prefer to hand wash your clothes, you can use a laundry detergent like Surf Excel Easy Wash. It is easily available in the market. The conditioner strengthens the tissue, holds back static electricity and odor. In this guide, I will discuss the differences between laundry detergents, fabric softener vs conditioner.

Fabric Softener Versus Laundry Detergent

Differences between Laundry Detergents, Fabric Softener VS Conditioner

Simply put, laundry detergent is designed to clean fabrics by removing contaminants, stains, oils, sweat, and other contaminants. Fabric softener strengthens, protects, and softens the fabric and keeps it in good condition through repeated washings. Each of them plays an important but different role in the proper care of your clothes. According to Tide, high-efficiency washers “use up to 80% less water than traditional, top-loading washers, deliver 65% energy savings, and also can wash more laundry in one go than traditional machines.

Laundry detergent is a mixture of chemicals and enzymes that removes dirt, debris, and bacteria. It is designed to remove stains from fabric and maintain the color of your clothes over time. Ecos Laundry Detergent is 100 percent biodegradable and free of 1, 4-Dioxane, petrochemicals, and formaldehyde.

Important Detergent ingredients

  • Bases are a specific type of soluble salt and an alkaline compound that reacts with them (mainly used to remove stains and dirt). The remaining ingredients that aren’t organic, up to 5 percent, should pose no risks to human health or the environment.
  • Sulphate or alcoholic compounds are surface substances that attract impurities in water and prevent them from sticking to clothing.
  • Catalytic enzymes: They are used to destroy and break down certain types of contaminants.
  • PH modifiers, water conditioners, and preservatives – for functional purposes such as tissue damage from cold water.

A fabric softener, sometimes called a fabric condition, protects the fabric by strengthening the fibers in the fabric and reducing friction during the washing process. Conventional softeners containing 4–6% active material have been partially replaced in many countries by softener concentrates having some 12–30 % active material. The main ingredients of the fabric softener are:

  • Conditioner – to prevent static electricity and create a “slippery” barrier that gives the fabric its softness.
  • Emulsifiers – oils from water-soluble products.
  • Preservatives – to maintain a stable formula
  • Fragrances – There are also many fragrance-free options.

Procter & Gamble told us that, according to a Nielsen report of sales from 2019 and 2020, 73% of products in the laundry category are liquid, 20% are pods, and 7% are powders.

Differences between Laundry detergents, Fabric Softener/Conditioner

Fabric SoftenerLaundry Detergent
A fabric softener is a chemical used on a fabric or in a wash cycle in a washing machine, or in the form of a dryer sheet that dissolves in the dryer with fabrics.  The conditioner incorporates the fibers of the fabrics to make them softer to touch.Detergents are a group of synthetic, organic, liquid, or water-soluble detergents that, unlike soap, are not made from fats and oils, do not reactivate with cold water, and have moisturizing and emulsifying properties.
The conditioner protects your clothes. Strengthens fabrics and helps reduce friction during the washing process, helping fabric retain its original shape, change color and reduce cracks and frizz.Laundry detergent helps remove dirt and grime that builds up on clothes. Just like shampoo cleans your hair, laundry detergent weighs heavily when cleaning clothes.
The fabric softener adds a coating to the fabrics, making the fiber feel soft.You can remove dirt and stains in less time with laundry detergent
It helps during the washing process.Laundry is difficult when it comes to cleaning clothes.  
The conditioner is made to strengthen the fabric and protect it during washing.The detergent is designed for deep cleaning of fabrics by removing dirt, oils, build-up, and stains.

Difference between Laundry Soap and Laundry Detergent

Laundry SoapsDetergents
It consists of a “-COONa” group attached to a fatty acid which has a long alkyl chain.It consists of a “-SO3Na” group attached to a long alkyl chain.
They are not effective in hard water and saltwater.They don’t lose their adequacy in hard and pungent water.
The soap is biodegradable.Detergents containing powdered hydrocarbon chains are not biodegradable
They form a sum in a solid aqueous medium.These compounds do not foam.
They are derived from natural sources such as vegetable oils and animal fats.Detergents are synthetic derivatives.
Soaps are an ecological product because they are biodegradable.These compounds can form a dense foam which causes the water to be extinguished.
Examples of soaps: sodium palmitate and sodium stearate.Detergent includes: deoxycholic corrosive and sodium lauryl sulfate.

Best Laundry Detergents for Sensitive Skin

When it comes to skincare, laundry detergents are often overlooked. When washing clothes, it’s easy to assume that all of the detergents were washed off during the wash cycle, but it isn’t. Although the exact amount left will vary depending on the load size, washing machine, and detergent used, zero amounts will not be washed. Think between towels, clothes, and bedding; you will be in contact with a small amount of detergent all day, every day. The fresh scent you love with 75% less plastic more tips for the clothes you love. If you are interested in a detergent that removes all dyes and fragrances, here are the best cleansers for sensitive skin:

Persil ProClean for delicate skin

Persil ProClean Sensitive Skin is a hypoallergenic product tested by a dermatologist, made without perfume or dye. It is good on the skin. The formula is particularly successful in killing stubborn stains and odors from clothing. That seal indicates that the product was made using methods set and approved by the Department of Agriculture, received third-party verification, and contains at least 95 percent organic ingredients.

Persil Laundry Detergent Liquid, Free and...
  • Persil ProClean Free and Sensitive is perfect for families who require a powerful liquid detergent that's also free of dyes and perfumes, and gentle on skin
  • Get exceptionally clean clothes without dyes and perfumes that can aggravate skin sensitivities
  • Like all products in our ProClean range, Persil Free and Sensitive is created with Deep Clean technology, providing you with outstandingly clean clothes, time after time

All Liquid Laundry Detergent

All Free Clear is the number one dermatologist and pediatrician recommended cleanser for sensitive skin. We understand why 100% of the fees we collect are used to support our nonprofit mission. It doesn’t contain fragrance or color, which makes it delicate on the skin. This clothing cleanser is likewise launderable with 99% allergens in your textures – including creature hair, residue, and bloom dust – successfully cleans garments and clothing.

all Liquid Laundry Detergent, Free Clear for...
  • all free clear is the #1 recommended detergent brand by dermatologists, allergists and pediatricians for sensitive skin.
  • Works in all washing machines including high efficiency (HE) washers
  • This concentrated formula delivers 2X more cleaning power in every drop vs our standard all free and clear detergent so you don’t have to use as much, while still being gentle on skin.

Charlie laundry soap

Charlie soap dish is not only hypoallergenic and non-toxic liquid, but its formula contains only three ingredients. So it’s best to think that you will only get what you need and not what you don’t, like elbows, perfumes, dyes, or fillers.

Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder (100 Loads, 1...
  • ECO-FRIENDLY CLEANING POWER: Concentrated powdered laundry soap works on all your laundry, from high-tech fabrics to delicates, washing away smells, stains, and left-behind residue from previous detergents.
  • HYPOALLERGENIC: Washing soda and powerful, natural ingredients work together to deep clean, rinse from fabrics completely, and leave nothing on your clothes. The fragrance-free formula is ideal for those with sensitive skin and will not cover stains or odors with artificial brighteners or perfumes. Our powder laundry detergent is safe for hand washing.
  • CLOTH DIAPER FRIENDLY: This detergent is safe to use on baby fabrics, effectively deep cleaning cloth diapers and other baby clothes between wears perfect along with your other baby essentials .

Tide Free & Gentle Liquid Laundry Detergent, Unscented 

According to Zichner, you’ll need to look for detergents that don’t contain dyes and fragrances. “Colors and scents are known to cause skin hypersensitivities, which brings about red skin,” Zichner clarifies. 

Tide’s Free and Gentle Liquid Wash is a solid option recognized by the National Psoriasis Foundation and the National Eczema Association as safe for sensitive skin.

Tide Free & Gentle Liquid Laundry Detergent,...
  • Deeper clean that is gentle on skin* (*vs. leading national competitor Free detergent)
  • Free of dyes and perfumes
  • Hypoallergenic

Free up & up cleaning

This wash took third place in the cleaning tests. On average, Up & Up removed 72% of the spots. However, when we delved into it a bit, we found that this detergent has a good existence against sweat, protein, and red wine stains.

Even though Up & Up didn’t require the first place, it mattered a lot. 

Tide Free & Gentle Liquid Laundry Detergent,...
  • Deeper clean that is gentle on skin* (*vs. leading national competitor Free detergent)
  • Free of dyes and perfumes
  • Hypoallergenic

Seventh-generation multi-purpose professional cleaners

Seventh-generation multi-purpose professional cleaners – bleach-free, fragrance-free, and paint-free – can be applied to dozens of surfaces, such as marble and stainless steel, and almost any. “If you’re not sold by that fact alone, consider this: “High-efficiency washers are much larger than regular washers, holding up to 40% more clothes.” In addition, its safe but effective formula removes grease, dirt, grime, and other sticky spots cleans the skin without irritating it.

Seventh Generation Professional All-Purpose...
  • Our Seventh Generation professional all-purpose cleaner formula is USDA certified bio based 91%
  • Powerful clean: Tough on grease, grime and dirt and safe for many workplace surfaces
  • There are NO VOCs, chlorine bleach, and fragrances in our plant-based biodegradable formula

Dropps Sensitive Skin Laundry Detergent

Another great option for those who prefer coconuts is the sensitive drip and baby cleanser. You can get a pre-sized box of 64, 160, or 240 containing a light fluid recipe. Drops don’t use unforgiving synthetic compounds, colors, phosphates, or chlorine, just regular, natural, and biodegradable fixings.

Dropps Sensitive Skin Laundry Detergent | Fresh...
  • GENTLE YET EFFECTIVE: Discover the perfect balance of gentle yet effective cleaning with Dropps Sensitive Skin & Baby Laundry Detergent Pods. Our dermatologist-tested formula is enzyme-free and dye-free, making it perfect for those with sensitive skin, eczema, psoriasis, or baby laundry needs. Our pods clean without damaging clothes making them suitable for all fabrics including delicates, wool, intimates, silk, and cashmere.
  • EASY & CONVENIENT: Our pods are pre-measured, so you don't have to worry about measuring or pouring messy liquids. Simply toss a pod into the washing machine, and let the powerful formula go to work. The pods dissolve quickly, even in cold water, and work in all types of machines, including high-efficiency washers. This means that you can enjoy a hassle-free laundry experience every time, with no need to worry about spills, splatters, or complicated measuring.
  • BETTER FOR YOU, YOUR FAMILY, AND THE PLANET: By using natural plant-based ingredients, we provide an effective clean without the use of harsh chemicals. Our recyclable cardboard packaging and commitment to sustainability make our pods a great choice for eco-conscious consumers.

Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear 

Liquid laundry detergent without tools or hammers, dyes, or perfumes contains soda that can irritate when applied directly to the skin. But, according to Sobel, the baking soda in this formula only works as a natural deodorant, so your laundry won’t be odorless.

Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear, 140...
24,141 Reviews
Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear, 140...
  • Free of Perfumes and Dyes
  • Dermatologist tested and hypoallergenic
  • Laundry detergent specially formulated for sensitive skin

Amazon Brand – Solimo Concentrated Liquid Laundry Detergent

It contains anionic and nonionic surfactants. Solimo Free and Clear contain soap, and that is what is publicly listed.

Amazon Brand - Solimo Concentrated Liquid Laundry...
  • Get a tough, but gentle clean and 2x more loads per bottle with concentrated Free & Clear liquid laundry detergent from Solimo, an Amazon Brand. (versus a 100oz bottle of standard-concentrated detergent [1.56oz dose])
  • Solimo Free & Clear liquid laundry detergent is free of perfumes & clear of dyes for a hypoallergenic clean. Pair with Solimo Free & Clear dryer sheets to reduce wrinkles while remaining gentle on skin.
  • Safe in both standard and high efficiency (HE) washing machines

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is fabric softener the same as laundry detergent?

Use only fabric softener (also called fabric conditioner) or dry sheets when adding cotton and linen to add odors, reduce static electricity, reduce drying time, and iron. While some detergents may have a conditioner in the formula, a fabric softener is not the same detergent.

Is downy fabric conditioner laundry detergent?

While the laundry cleans and Fresh Protect neutralizes odors, the duvet softens, refreshes, and protects clothes.

Can fabric softener replace hair conditioner?

Conditioners are designed to soften tissue, while hair conditioners are designed to exfoliate, smooth, and increase shine. The two products are similar, but that does not mean that they are interchangeable.

Is fabric softener good for clothes?

It is an effective remedy without softening the tissues and wrinkles. It also helps reduce friction between fibers, which creates a less static grip and helps the product wear clothes that last longer than those used.

Is it okay to wash clothes without a fabric softener?

While fabrics may initially appear very soft and beautiful, this buildup of oily film absorbs less tissue over time. 

Finally, they can leave litter in your cars which is not good for cars, and it also means you can have to soften litter on your clothes even when they are not used to doing this task.


Fabric softener and laundry detergent are often packaged and sold together in the same way; they perform different functions. The detergent is designed to deep clean fabrics to remove dirt, oils, buildup, and stains, while the conditioner is designed to strengthen and protect the fabric while washing.

Comments are closed.