Homemade Fabric Softener

Maybe, like me, you’re trying to green up your home.  Or maybe, also like me, you’re cheap budget-conscious.  Either way, you are going to LOVE this recipe.  Actually, this is more like a non-recipe. 

Vinegar and oil(s)

See, a non-recipe

1.   Get a big jug of white vinegar.
2.   Add some drops of essential oil for fragrance. I used lemongrass, lavender and rosemary so that it would match my Homemade Detergent, but oils are completely optional!
3.   Go do laundry.

That’s it!  See how easy going green can be?  You may be thinking, but won’t my laundry smell like pickles?  No!  That’s the beauty of it.  The vinegar smell dissappears when the vinegar dries.  You don’t actually have to add any fragrance, but it does linger on your clothing slightly, so I do it because I like it.  You don’t have to.  Vinegar helps the detergent rinse complete from your laundry and naturally softens the clothing without the toxic chemicals in traditional fabric softeners.  Plus, it helps clean your washing machine.

But, being green is only one advantage of this softener.  As I mentioned before, this will save you $$! 

Liquid Fabric softener

I just refill this bottle with my vinegar and a few drops of essential oils.

Now, even when I used toxic fabric softener, I used sheets.  But, one summer my sister and her family stayed with us.  She was kind enough to leave behind this bottle of Downy for me.   If you’ll notice, the price tag says, “$6.79”.  That price is from 2003, so it may be more.  I really have no idea.  If you’d like to weigh in on this matter, please feel free to leave a comment.

Anyway, back to the math.  For $6.79, you can soften 52 loads.  That works out to about 13 cents per load. 

I use the lid from this Downy bottle to measure my vinegar, so I use the same number of ounces per load (0.85 oz.) White vinegar comes in 1 gallon jugs.  I pay $1.69 for a gallon of vinegar (128 oz.)  1 gallon of vinegar is just over 150 loads.  That works out to about 1 cent per load.  Even if you add essential oils, it wouldn’t be more than 2 cents per load if you paid a LOT for your oil.  My oils are in the $3 price range so I don’t even figure them into the price because the 20+ drops I put into the Downy bottle barely cost a nickel.

Even if you only wash 1 load of laundry a week, (and who does that??) you would save over six dollars a year.  Not to mention eliminate gallons of toxic chemicals from the water supply and avoid long-term skin contact with these same chemicals.  If you do five loads a week you’ll save over $31 a year.  Imagine what you could save over a lifetime of doing laundry!

If you like green cleaning products, you’ll probably like my Sink Scrub recipe, too.


Filed under frugality, green cleaning, green living

24 responses to “Homemade Fabric Softener

  1. Great post! I used vinegar yesterday in my wash and I didn’t smell a thing. (a good thing) Automatically I threw in a dryer sheet in the dryer. So you don’t need the sheets if you use the vinegar?

  2. aastricker

    I haven’t used the sheets in a while. Some particularly sticky things like my microfiber cloths are still a bit clingy, but they’re designed to be. I’ve found that my towels are more absorbent when I don’t use softener sheets.

  3. The microfiber towels are not suppose to be used with fabric softener but I always forget. However, them seem to work fine.

    • aastricker

      I guess I never knew that the microfiber cloths shouldn’t have fabric softener. Not a big deal since I haven’t been using it anyway. 🙂

  4. BRILLIANT. I want to try it. I’ve gotten so allergic to everything and I’ve been missing fabric softener.

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  7. wendy

    How much vinegar do you put in for the fabric softner per load

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  10. I really have to find some good oils!

  11. Jennifer

    How many drops of essential oil do you put into the vinegar?

    • aastricker

      Twenty or thirty. It isn’t really necessary though; plain vinegar works just as well and the vinegar smell doesn’t linger.

  12. Sarah

    Sounds great…yet, is this formula safe to use in the dispenser of a HE (High Efficiency) washer? Has anyone used this in such a washer over an extended period of time?

    Thanks…I’m excited to use if safe : )

    • aastricker

      I don’t have a HE washer, but a girlfriend of mine uses a similar version in hers. She was making a liquid version but found it wasn’t necessary. If you wanted to make a liquid you could dump the entire mixture into a large stock pot with water over medium heat until the solids dissolve and pour it into a jug.

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  14. thank you thank you thank you for sharing this! i have been looking for a recipe — and the recipes containing hair conditioner were not appealing at all. i’m making it today and giving it a whirl!

  15. Kaylee

    Have you had any problems using this with clothes you bleached? I read on another page where a woman accidentally made mustard gas with her vinegar based fabric softener. i would love to try this!

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