What is it?
Did you know that fabric conditioner contains animal fat? No, neither did I until I stayed in an Airbnb in Paris last year where the friendly host told me that I was welcome to use her homemade fabric conditioner. When having this discussion with others, it doesn’t seem a well-known fact.
Smol are a company who seem to be taking cleaning back to basics; offering concentrated, low waste cleaning products which can be delivered straight to your door. It’s a very simple concept. They claim that they can offer fairer prices for cutting out the retailer middle-man, so unlike many eco brands, you’ll have to buy direct from their website.
Where you can receive the laundry capsules and dishwasher tablets on a free trial, the “starter pack” for the fabric conditioner costs £10 and contains 2 bottles (128 uses). The fabric conditioner is available in one scent, and is a concentrated formula; so the recommendation is “4 squirts” from the bottle. And – although it is difficult to distinguish the exact measure of this – the formula also contains a “lower level of chemicals”.
All of Smol’s products are leaping bunny certified, and all of the packaging is FSC certified & recylcable. To add to this, with the “fab con”, you can use the box to send 4 empty bottles back to smol (freepost).
What were the good things about this product?
Smol’s website has a very user friendly interface. From the moment you step onto the platform you are sold comforting infographics on the benefits of their products. You can only buy the fab con in the twin pack, so smol direct you to a nifty little calculator, which calculates how long two bottles will last you. Don’t worry though, you can change your expected delivery on your account if you run out sooner.
Once you get into your account, you are greeted with your personalised dashboard. You can ask smol to provide you with your personal impact statistics, which is a nice reminder!
The 2 bottles for £10 does come with free delivery, which is definitely a positive. And like I mentioned above, if you save the delivery box, you can send 4 bottles back to smol when your finished, for reuse. At 128 uses per two bottles, this works out 8p per use. This is good when comparing against competing eco alternative fabric conditioners (see below), which are all north of this value at 10-20p per use.
As for performance, the product smells great and if was told that I was using my ordinary brand, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. So, that speaks for itself!
What are the bad things about this product?
There are a couple of negatives about the buying experience. Firstly, the basket/checkout didn’t seem too user friendly. Where I added a starter pack, then when back on their website, then added another one by accident – I struggled to delete 1 pack. I had to log onto another device to start the purchase again! It also left me a little apprehensive that I could only buy on a subscription service. You aren’t tied into the subscription, but cancellation isn’t immediately obvious on my account homepage. I would’ve felt more comfortable purchasing the starter pack as a one-off.
The recommendation is 4 squirts, which is a tiny amount of liquid! I like the smell of fabric conditioner hanging around on my clothes, and I couldn’t notice it the first time I tried. I’ve upped my dosage to 6-7 squirts and I prefer it a lot more. With using 7 squirts per load however, the cost per wash would go up to 13p. When comparing this against the standard supermarket brands, it can appear a little steep. A 3L bottle of Comfort Pure Fabric Conditioner at £4, works out 5p per wash – and a Tesco own brand 1.35L bottle works out at only 3p a wash!
There isn’t a choice of scent, which may be a negative to some – although I like the smell so I can’t complain…
Lastly, after doing some research on the “vegan” side of this product, I found that ordinary fabric conditioner only contains tallow, which is a rendered animal fat. Tallow can also be found your £5 and £10 notes! So some of the marketing hinging on this fact can feel a little exaggerated.
Would I use this product again?
Yes, I would definitely use this product again. Most of the negatives I have pointed out above can be overlooked. For example, I can certainly see how the subscription service would benefit the eco-warrior agenda. It stops me from taking the easy route of running to the shop for a refill when I run out! Rethinking the point I made on the tallow also – if it can be done without the animal product, then why isn’t it?! I feel this fabric conditioner is the perfect example of that.
Therefore, the only negative that remains is the cost. With only 2 of us (and some mucky dogs) in the household, we only go through a couple of washes a week. I can imagine if we were a larger household this option could outweigh the some of the benefits. However, for now I am charmed by their effective personalised user platform & very active social media. It’s nice to feel like I’m making a difference, and smol are very smart to realise that.
What are the alternatives?
You can grab a huge 20L refill bottle of fabric conditioner from Miniml for £39.99. With a recommended dose of 20-50ml per wash, this container has no less that 400 uses inside! That will cost 10p or less per wash, so is definitely one of the more economical options.
If you would prefer to have the option of either scented or unscented fabric conditioner, then this is the best price I can find. A 10L refill of scented conditioner works out at 15p per wash, whereas the unscented version is slightly less at 14p per wash. It is expected that you start with the refillable bottle first, but I’m sure you can get away with using your own container!
This fabric conditioner works out at 16p per wash, is fragrance free and approved by Allergy UK. Ecover is also becoming available in high street stores & supermarkets, so you may be able to pick this up on your ordinary shop.
If you liked the idea of the subscription, then here is another option for you. Through the Bower Collective, you can either organise a subscription or opt for a once only purchase. This product however, is slightly more expensive at approximately 20p per wash. I am very intrigued by the lavender scent though!
Or, you can have a go at making your own? I’ve found a great blog post here.
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