Fabric softeners were invented in the mid 1900s by the textile industry to reduce static and improve the comfort of clothes. Scientist Conrad J. Gaiser later invented the more convenient dryer sheet in the 1960s.
The earliest fabric softener was used to reduce the rough texture of newly made cotton fabric. It was composed of soap and oil that created a smooth coat over the fabric. Later, manufacturers created softeners that seeped into the fabric to improve the fabric's absorption. Gaiser's dryer sheets were popular because the heat of the wash cycle melted and spread the chemicals into the fabric more efficiently.