Coffee heat rising

Alternative fabric softener and laundry de-static stuff

Hey! Here’s a little discovery: hair conditioner works in the laundry just like fabric softener!

I’ve always disliked fabric softener, because it gums up the washer (or dryer, if it comes in the form of dryer sheets) and because IMHO it smells ungodly awful. I really, really, really dislike industrial-strength perfumes. Weirdly, I want my wash to smell clean, not like some chemist’s idea of what some vague consumer imagines stinks pretty. So, as you might surmise, I don’t keep any of the gunk on hand.

Cassie the Corgi, a furry little character, sleeps on the bed on top of two throws, laid over the blankets to collect her hair. And collect hair they do!


Washing the doggy bedding often doesn’t get all the hair out. Then the throws get staticky in the washer, and the darned dog hair glues itself to the fabric. Sunday afternoon the throws were especially furry; two turns through the washer and dryer did nothing to remove the dog hair. Called La Maya to see if I could mooch a dryer sheet; no answer. The second-to-last thing I wanted to do was buy a package of fabric softener gunk that I’ll never use; last thing was to sleep with bedding that stinks of industrial chemicals. {gag!}

After much cerebration, the light finally dawned:
Hair conditioner works very much like fabric softener. One of the things it’s supposed to do is defuse static in your long, flowing locks. And because I buy the mildest-smelling hair products I can find, the stuff in my shower doesn’t stink!

So I poured about an eighth of a cup of Kirkland’s best into the washer with the doggy throws. And darned if it didn’t work! Between the washer and the dryer, almost all the magnetic dog hair rinsed or shook out.

Turns out I’m not the first to think of this. E-how recommends diluting hair conditioner 1:10 and using it just like fabric softener. Experience shows this is a good plan: dumping it in undiluted left some blobs on the throws, so I had to run them through the rinse cycle a second time.

Another site, Creative Homemaking, suggests working a tablespoon of hair conditioner into a damp washrag and tossing it into the dryer, just like a fabric softener sheet.

A third idea, which is all over the Web, proposes that the happy homemaker toss a wadded-up ball of aluminum foil into the dryer with the clothing. I could find only one person reporting that this didn’t work. I haven’t tried it, but I may in the future. Doesn’t look like it would do any harm, anyway. One possible problem with hair conditioner is that if fabric softener gums up your washer or your dryer, hair conditioner may do the same. Tinfoil presumably wouldn’t do that.