Fabric fibers become hard and stiff after repeated routine washing and natural drying. Adding a small amount of a conditioner during the laundry rinse cycle can easily soften the fabrics.
For many years, cationic surfactants are being used as softeners in laundry care, and they are almost exclusively based on organic quaternary ammonium compounds, known as quats or esterquats. These quats bind by electrostatic attraction to the negatively charged groups on the surface of the fibers and thereby impart a softer texture. However, while esterquats do soften fabrics very effectively, they can make them less hydrophilic, which is undesirable for textiles like towels. Esterquats are present in paste form so their incorporation to formulations requires heating and long mixing time. Another disadvantage of esterquats is that they cannot be used in transparent formulations and detergent formulations.
Latro recommends functional silicone emulsions to reduce the wearing effect of quats on fabrics due to their surfactant structure and add mechanical strength to the fabric. Thanks to the flexible Si-O bonds, silicones add elasticity to the fabric, providing ease of ironing and create an anti-wrinkle effect on the fabric with this flexibility. Silicone softeners also improve color retention, reduce fabric yellowing, give good slickness, and increased silky and bouncy feel on the hand. They are very easy to handle and compatible with all types of surfactants. It is possible to create value-added detergents or fabric softeners by choosing the right silicone-based product.