Early cotton softeners were typically based on a water emulsion of soap and olive oil, corn oil, or tallow oilSoftening compounds differ in affinity to various fabrics. Some work better on cellulose-based fibers others have a higher affinity to hydrophobic materials like nylon, polyethylene terephthalate, polyacrylonitrile, etc. New silicone-based compounds, such as polydimethylsiloxane, work by lubricating the fibers. Manufacturers use derivatives with amine- or amide-containing functional groups as well. These groups improve the softener’s binding to fabrics.