FABRIC softener is a staple for some when doing the laundry, but parents are now second guessing using it in their wash after noticing an "alarming" warning on the label.
One dad shared his concerns on Facebook after stopping to read the labels on his bottle of Lenor Outdoorable and noticing the dangerous risk that comes with using the softener on his child's clothes.
He wrote: "Does anyone else find this alarming?! I don’t think I’ll be buying this again. Am I being daft?"
The small print reveals that the Lenor liquid could "increase fabric flammability" with use and using more than the "recommended" amount could further increase the risk.
It warns against using the product on "children's sleepwear or garments labelled as flame resistant" as it may reduce flame resistance.
Their post was flooded with thousands of comments and fellow parents sharing their shock, with one writing: "Omg!!! I've just bought this!!!"
"Bl***y hell, I pour loads in too," said another mum, while one more vented: "How are they able to sell this? How silly just like Halloween costumes."
One more added: "Omg I have used it on all my washing, I can't believe this."
Others pointed out that most fabric softeners come with the same warning and it can be found on all Lenor products.
Laundry expert Deyan Dimitrov, CEO of Laundryheap, told Fabulous Digital: "Using fabric softener can dramatically reduce the flame resistance of baby clothing and other materials.
"The Flammable Fabrics Act of 1953 revealed that fabric softener can reduce the flame resistance of textiles due to the build-up of chemicals present. This is because fabric softeners contain emulsifiers and alcohol ethoxylates, both of which are flammable."
Dimitrov explained that children's clothing is usually treated with flame-resistant chemicals for safety reasons and therefore "fabric softener on flame-resistant clothes can reduce their effectiveness."
He explained: "If the clothes in question ever came into contact with high levels of heat or flame, the clothing could be more susceptible to catching fire.
"For this reason, avoid using fabric softener on your baby and children’s clothing and sleepwear, or fabrics such as velour, chenille, terry cloth, fleece, or any garments that are labelled as flame resistant. If in doubt, check the clothing label!"
There are plenty of alternatives to use on flame-resistant garments, with Dimitrov swearing by mild non-bio detergents on a cool wash to keep clothes soft.
He also recommends avoiding drying clothes directly on a radiator, as this can dry out and damage the fabric, and recommends switching softener for white vinegar instead.
"Not only is this household staple inexpensive (some shops sell this for as little as 50p a bottle) it also softens clothes and can help remove any staining," he revealed.
What can be used instead of fabric softener?
Laundry expert Deyan Dimitrov, CEO of Laundryheap, shares his alternatives to using fabric softener to keep your clothes soft and as good as new
- Mild Non-Bio Detergent – The best way to keep clothes soft is to wash the garments at a cool temperature with a mild non-bio detergent. Non-bio works well at temperatures as low as 20 degrees so this is ideal for getting rid of stains or soiling on a cooler wash. Using lower temperatures ensures your fabric doesn’t get damaged (and can save money!).
- Use A Delicate Setting – It’s always best to use a delicate or wool setting on the washing machine as the spin speed on this setting is less vigorous and it won’t completely dry out your clothes, meaning you won’t end up with scratchy materials!
- White Vinegar – If your clothes aren’t labelled as flame resistant, you can use white vinegar in place of fabric softener. Not only is this household staple inexpensive (some shops sell this for as little as 50p a bottle) it also softens clothes and can help remove any staining. Don’t worry, your clothes won’t smell like vinegar, as the odour neutralises as the clothes dry.
- Avoid Drying Clothes On Radiator – This can dry out and damage the fabric, leaving it with a scratchy, stiff feel. Always opt to dry them on a washing line.
"Don’t worry, your clothes won’t smell like vinegar, as the odour neutralises as the clothes dry."
Some parents, meanwhile, were concerned that fabric softener itself is flammable.
While it can increase the risk of flammability for certain clothes and fabrics, the actual product and the ingredients used to make it are not flammable.
Cleaning expert Mrs D, who is best known for her product reviews on Instagram, told us: "In regards to fabric softener being flammable it's a complete myth. If you look at the side or back of any fabric softener bottle you will see that it tells you that it can 'increase fabric flammability'.
"Most of our clothes (not all of them) have a flame retardant coating on them, making them less flammable. All fabric softener does is leave a film behind making them less flame resistant."
A spokesperson for Lenor told Fabulous Digital: "The safety of those who use our products is our number one priority, which is why we have proactively added this warning to our packaging. All fabric softeners may increase the risk of flammability of certain fabrics and garments.
"While fabric softeners can increase the fluffiness of cotton-containing fabrics, they can also increase the flammability of these types of fabrics, which is why we would recommend fabric softener is not used on children’s sleepwear, on any garments labelled as flame resistant, or garments made with fabrics such as fleece, velour, chenille and terry cloth.
"The ingredients in Lenor softeners are not flammable, and are safe to use so long as the package label instructions are followed."
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