A fabric softener performance review has found that some products costing $7.80 to $14 are barely better than water.
The combined softness and water absorption of cloth nappies treated with 35 products to assess a overall score for each.
Consumer advocate Choice, ranked five products just a little bit better than water alone.
“The marketing of these products is all around softness and comfort but when you consider the worst performers are only slightly better than water their marketing claims are hard on your budget,” Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey said.
Choice’s overall score for Comfort Fabric Conditioner Pure was 48 per cent, compared with water at 47 per cent.
Fluffy Divine Blends Concentrated Fabric Softener, Cuddly Concentrate Sensitive Hypoallergenic and Cuddly Concentrate Collections achieved 49 per cent — the same as an Epsom salts and bicarb soda home recipe.
Ecostore Fabric Softener was 50 per cent.
Unilever said leading washing machine manufacturers recommended its Comfort brands, which left clothes softer, smelling fresher longer, easier to iron and free from static.
Choice top scored Huggie Ultra Concentrated Fabric Conditioner at 75 per cent.
Earth Choice Fabric Softener, one of the cheapest tested, was also recommended at 73 per cent.