I had been vegan for ages before I realised that most supermarket-bought fabric conditioners are made with animal fat. Urgh! I mean, surely even non-vegans wouldn’t want to wash animal fat into their clothes, would they?
And the horror doesn’t end there… Many fabric softeners are tested on animals and come in plastic packaging, bulked out with added water. Yikes!
Luckily, there are lots of cruelty-free and vegan fabric softeners and vegan laundry detergents to choose from. I’ve researched the best brands of vegan fabric conditioner to buy in the UK and shortlisted them for you here to make it easy for you to choose one.
Are fabric softeners vegan?
Some fabric softeners are vegan-friendly, but many are not. Fabric conditioner often contains animal fat from pigs, cows, sheep or horses, which is something that vegans and vegetarians wish to avoid. Many brands of fabric softener are also tested on animals.
The best vegan fabric softener brands
To make it simple to find the best vegan-friendly fabric conditioners, I’ve reviewed the most popular cruelty-free fabric softener brands in the UK.
Each item in this list has no animal ingredients and no animal testing. Most of these are also more eco-friendly than the well-known brands.
All of the fabric softeners in this list are:
Here’s a quick comparison table of the best vegan fabric softeners, or scroll down for a full review of each one…
|Fabric softener||Reason to choose||Price per wash||Where to buy|
|Smol||Refillable by freepost||8 pence||Smol website|
|Bio D||Fragrance-free, hypoallergenic||7 pence||Amazon|
|Ecozone||Long-lasting fragrance||11 pence||Amazon|
|Dryer Eggs||Cheapest option||less than 1 penny||Amazon|
|Astonish 2 in 1||Detergent and conditioner in one||18 pence||Amazon|
|Waft laundry perfume||Smells amazing||8 pence||Ethical Superstore|
How to tell if fabric conditioner is vegan-friendly
Finding out whether a bottle of fabric conditioner that you pick up in the supermarket is suitable for vegans or not isn’t as straightforward as just reading the label.
Usually, the label won’t give you enough information to know if the fabric softener contains animal fat, whether it was ever tested on animals or if it contains toxic ingredients that could pollute our water systems.
Is there animal fat in fabric softener?
Many brands of supermarket-bought fabric softener contain rendered animal fat. This is very hard to spot in the ingredients list as it could be hidden under many different names like tallow dimethyl ammonium chloride or sodium tallowate.
List of laundry detergent ingredients that could mean animal fat:
- Cationic esterquat surfactant
- Ditallowoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate
- Lauric acid
- Myristal ether sulfate
- Myristic acid
- Oleic acid
- Oleyl Myristate
- Palmitic acid
- Sodium Tallowate
- Stearic acid
- Stearic Hydrazide
- Stearoyl Lactylic Acid
- Stearyl Betaine
- Stearyl Imidazoline
- Tallow Amide
- Tallow Amine
- Tallow Glycerides
- Tallow Imidazoline
This list is not exhaustive and there may be other chemical names for the animal fat that are used in the ingredients of household products like fabric conditioner. Also, some of the ingredients in this list may be of plant or animal origin as sometimes the same name is used for both.
To find out for sure whether a particular laundry product is vegan-friendly, you could email the manufacturer. However, they don’t always reply and I often find that they give vague stock answers that don’t fully address the question.
The environmental impact of fabric conditioner
As well as animal fat, fabric softener can also contain other ingredients such as petroleum, unsustainably-produced palm oil and chemicals which are harmful to aquatic life.
Laundry products go straight down the drain and into our water systems, so it makes sense to be mindful about whether the ingredients may be toxic. Another worry is that studies have shown that some of the ingredients in traditional fabric softeners can actually make clothing more flammable.
Most supermarket-bought fabric softeners come in plastic packaging which isn’t always recyclable. Even if it is, it can only be recycled so many times.
Annoyingly, brands often water down their softener to make it seem like you’re getting more, but really all this means is that the product has a greater carbon footprint.
The use of animals for testing is another thing which can be tricky to tell from the label. If there’s no mention of animal testing, you can assume that the product has almost certainly been tested on animals.
If the label has the words ‘cruelty-free’ or ‘not tested on animals’ then this means that the finished product has not been tested on animals. However, the individual ingredients that make up the product may have been tested on animals.
Look out for the cruelty-free bunny logo as a sign that a product is genuinely cruelty-free. There are three official bunny logos that you can trust as well as lots more bunny logo copies that don’t actually mean anything.
The top 6 vegan fabric softener reviews
You’ll be pleased to know that eco-friendly, cruelty-free fabric softener without animal fat is easy to come by in the UK.
Here are my reviews of the best brands to choose…
Smol fabric conditioner is a super-concentrated and eco-friendly fabric softener with no animal fat. You can order a six-month supply for just £10 and, if you wish, set up a regular delivery based on how much you use.
Smol laundry products are all vegan-friendly. I use the fabric conditioner myself and can confirm that it smells lovely and leaves laundry really soft. Smol also has over 20,000 five-star reviews on Feefo.
The bottles are made from 100% post-consumer waste. You can return them to be refilled or recycle them with your normal household waste.
- Refillable bottles
- Smells amazing
- 100% money-back guarantee
2. Bio D
If you’re looking for a natural, fragrance-free fabric conditioner that will leave your laundry super-soft, then Bio D is ideal. This concentrated fabric softener is sustainably-made from naturally-derived raw materials.
Bio D fabric conditioner has no animal ingredients, petrochemicals, phosphates, preservatives, enzymes or synthetic perfumes. This makes it allergy-friendly and perfect for sensitive skin.
Tip: Decant into a smaller bottle or use this pump to dispense easily
- Natural and sustainable ingredients
- Made in UK
- Safe for septic tanks and cess pits
Ecozone fabric conditioner is a mild and gentle vegan-friendly fabric softener that’s available in a choice of fragrances.
This fabric softener has a mild formula that is free from petrochemicals and is approved by Allergy UK, Cruelty-Free International and the Vegan Society.
The main downside to this brand is that it comes in a plastic bottle and is only available in the small, one-litre size which lasts for up to 37 washes. However, if you’re looking for a fabric softener that you can buy in your local supermarket, you’ll find this in Tesco, Ocado and Booths, as well as online on Amazon.
- Long-lasting fragrance
- Suitable for sensitive skin
- Made in UK
4. Dryer Eggs
Dryer eggs are a genius invention, made by Ecoegg, the same company that makes laundry eggs. You just put the dryer eggs into your tumble drier and they will leave your laundry baby-soft and smelling great.
A fantastic vegan alternative to fabric conditioner, dryer eggs have no harsh chemicals so they’re ideal for people with sensitive skin. These clever egg-shaped devices are also good for the environment as you’ll use less electricity to run your tumble drier and the eggs themselves will last for many years.
Each dryer egg contains a fragrance stick which lasts for 40 washes. After that, you can keep using the dryer eggs without fragrance, or get a refill pack of fragrance sticks.
- Reduce drying time by 28%
- 10-year guarantee
If you like the idea of laundry detergent and fabric conditioner in a single, super-concentrated liquid, then Astonish is the best vegan 2 in 1.
Astonish 2 in 1 doesn’t have the added water that other supermarket-bought 2 in 1s have, so less packaging is needed. However, it does come in a plastic bottle and it also has some chemical ingredients, like benzisothiazolone, which can cause allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin.
Astonish products are available in lots of shops such as Asda, Morrisons, Co-Op, Iceland, Ocado, The Range, Home Bargains, Savers, B&M Bargains and Wilko. You can also get them on Amazon, delivered straight to your door.
- No need for separate detergent
- Smells great
- Made in UK
This tiny 50ml bottle of laundry perfume will leave over 100 washes smelling beautifully fresh. Such a concentrated product means that you only need to use a few drops, so that’s less packaging and less space taken up in your home.
Waft laundry perfume is free from parabens, palm oil, cationic surfactants and all other kinds of nasties. It’s completely biodegradable and Vegan Society approved.
If you already have another solution to make your laundry soft, like dryer balls, then this vegan-friendly laundry perfume could be just what you need to add that fresh laundry smell.
- Smells amazing
- Tiny, recyclable bottle
- Suitable for septic tanks
Other brands of fabric softener
Most other brands of fabric softener aside from the top six listed above are not vegan-friendly. Here are some of the best-selling laundry conditioners which you may be wondering about…
Is Ecover fabric softener vegan?
Ecover fabric softener is not certified as vegan. While it doesn’t contain animal ingredients and isn’t technically tested on animals, it is tested on water fleas. These small creatures are not considered animals according to European law. Ecover is owned by S.C. Johnson, a company that tests on animals.
Is Comfort fabric softener vegan?
Comfort fabric softener is not suitable for vegans as it contains ‘ditallowoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate’, which is another name for animal fat. The Comfort brand is owned by Unilever, a company which sells products in China where animal testing is required by law.
Is Lenor vegan?
Lenor fabric conditioner is not suitable for vegans. It contains ‘cationic esterquat surfactant’ which could be derived from animal fat or vegetable oil – the brand won’t say which. The Lenor brand is owned by Procter & Gamble, a company which tests on animals. Lenor is not certified as vegan.
Is Fairy fabric softener vegan?
Fairy fabric softener is not vegan-friendly. It contains ‘cationic surfactants’ which may be derived from animal fat, although Fairy does not confirm or deny this. Fairy is not certified as cruelty-free and the brand is owned by Procter & Gamble, a company that tests on animals.
The bottom line
Animal fat is a common ingredient in fabric softener, but you can buy fabric conditioner with no animal fat in the UK for the same price as the popular non-vegan brands.
Many vegan fabric softeners and fabric conditioner alternatives are better for the environment as they are more concentrated for a lower carbon footprint and are less likely to use toxic chemicals. However, I am yet to find a vegan fabric conditioner that’s also plastic-free!
To help you to decide which laundry softener best suits your needs, I’ve put the best ones into this handy comparison table…
|Fabric softener||Vegan||Cruelty-free||Plastic-free||Hypo-allergenic||Made in UK||Price per wash||Where to buy|
|Astonish 2 in 1||YES||YES||–||–||YES||18p||Amazon|
|Waft laundry perfume||YES||YES||–||–||–||8p||Ethical Superstore|
Personally, I think that the best vegan fabric conditioner is Smol. I ordered a twin pack and I expect that these will last at for at least six months. My clothes are super soft and when they’re drying in front of the radiator they make the whole room smell lovely.