Fabric softener sales are plummeting—and, guess what, apparently it’s all our fault.
To add insult to injury, the Wall Street Journal is now reporting a 15-percent drop in liquid softener sales between 2007 and 2015, along with the suggestion from the head of global fabric care at Procter & Gamble (the company that owns Downy, Tide and Bounce) that the decline is due, in part, to a millennial misunderstanding of the product. Although the article did include other factors as well, everyone jumped on the idea of millennial ignorance as the root of yet another problem. Proof: Fortune’s follow-up headline reads, “Millennials Don’t Know What Fabric Softener Is For.”
I get that with age comes wisdom, and the insight to critique the cohorts that follow. But seriously, chalking up every mishap to know-nothing millennial narcissists is getting kind of old.
Truth: I’m a millennial, and I don’t use fabric softener. But I’m also completely aware of what it is—so much so that I know it will reduce the sweat-wicking capabilities of my workout gear and the absorbency of my towels, which is mostly what I wash at home considering much of my work attire is dry clean-only. A lot of my friends don’t use the stuff either. And it’s not because they don’t know what it is, Fortune. “Too chemical-y” or “my clothes come out of the dryer soft enough as is” are reasons most commonly cited by my friends. Then there are my co-workers who refuse to buy it, preferring to hire laundry services instead. While this might sound incredibly lazy to boomers, my colleagues see it as an efficient strategy that affords them more time to devote to their day job, side hustles and volunteer commitments (see, we don’t just sit in our parents’ basements all day!).
I admit we’re not perfect. (I sometimes call my mom for help decoding those ridic hieroglyphs on clothing tags.) But we are capable of making educated decisions as consumers. For most millennials I know, it’s a conscious choice to skip the liquid softener. Frankly, it’s unnecessary given the advancements made in laundry since softener’s heyday in the ’60s.
So while we may be the generation scolded for throwing away our paycheques like it’s going out of style, just so you know, we’re saving 10 cents a load.