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Homemade Fabric Softener Recipes

Fabric softener is great for keeping your clothes soft and fresh when the come out of the laundry. However, it can get expensive to purchase on a regular basis. Making it at home is a great way to save some money. This page contains homemade fabric softener recipes.

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June 3, 2015 Flag

I might be on to something, here.

An article in Wikipedia states that ethanoic acid (or acetic acid, the 'active' ingredient in vinegar), has a pungent smell. It doesn't say whether this 'smell' is the same as vinegar. I would like to know, and here's why:


I've read many accounts at ThriftyFun of vinegar being a cheaper and safer alternative to fabric softeners. Most also state that the vinegar leaves the clothes nice and fresh smelling. Against my better judgement, I gave it a try.

I found that vinegar 'softens' fabrics as well as any commercial fabric softener I've ever used. It goes further and gives fabrics a 'hand' or finish you won't usually find on a garment after it's first laundering.

So now, I use vinegar, instead. Right? In a word, No! As it turns out, that nice, fresh smell, smells just like the vinegar it is. I refuse to 'go around' with my clothes smelling like a jar of Del Monte gherkins. I tried diluting the vinegar with the same amount of my regular fabric softener. My duds still smelled like a kosher deli. My closet and drawers took on a 'pickle power' pungency. This 'fresh' smell hangs around for a while. It does not readily dissipate.

You can buy a quart of food grade ethanoic acid online for ten dollars. When diluted to the 'table strength' of vinegar, it should go a long way. There's just one hitch. Is that 'smell' the Wikipedia article describes as 'pungent', the same as vinegar? If not, food grade ethanoic acid may just be the perfect fabric softener. If 'yes', then I've wasted ten dollars plus shipping.

I just may take a chance and order a bottle of the 'E' acid. The scent can't be much worse than my own clothes after the 'perfume' in my fabric softener fades. In the meantime, I'm sitting here wondering, 'How many of those people who think the lingering scent of vinegar is 'nice and fresh', have been tempted to gussy up and go 'round sporting a sprig of dill weed in their hair' ?

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    August 19, 2005 Flag
    11 found this helpful

    I save an old fabric softener or detergent bottled (rinsed well). Using a funnel I carefully pour the following into the bottle:

    Be careful when adding the baking soda, do so very slowly as it will foam up. Cap and shake gently from side to side, opening the cap to allow air to escape (you may need to do this several times). Add about 20 drops of essential oil. I love lavender but you can use cedarwood, rose, eucalyptus, whatever you love.

    Shake side to side before each use as the baking soda will settle. Pour just past the line in a Downyball (I find this method works better than the machines fabric softener dispenser). Toss the ball in and that's it.

    It costs a mere pennies to make. Buy the huge boxes of baking soda now available and gallons of white vinegar.

    There is no static cling whatsoever and it leaves a lovely scent on your clothing. For extra fragrance, put some in a spray bottle and spray your load of laundry as it goes into the dryer.

    The serviceman where we bought our Whirlpool washer and dryer combo said NEVER to use any type of dryer sheets in a dryer. They leave a residue on the lint screen. Take your screen and hold it under a running faucet. If the water beads and doesn't run thru freely, it's clogged by use of dryer sheets.

    Try this cheap, environmentally friendly version instead. It's safe to use on children's sleepwear and doesn't diminish the absorbency of towels or clothes as it does not coat the fabric.


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    April 2, 2013 Flag
    13 found this helpful

    You can make your own fabric softener out of your favorite conditioner for your hair. Put all this together in a container you can easily stir, but do not shake.

  1. 2 cups of your favorite scented conditioner
  2. 3 cups of white vinegar
  3. 6 cups of hot water

    Stir, stir, stir, stir, stir. Then pour into a container. Use 1/4 cup per load of wash. It works great and smells great too!

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      January 7, 2012 Flag
      12 found this helpful

      If you are out of fabric softener, add 1 Tbsp. of Epsom salts to your rinse cycle to make your towels fluffy.

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      June 20, 2016 Flag
      0 found this helpful

      This is a guide about using vinegar as a fabric softener. Vinegar is a good alternative to fabric softener products when doing your laundry.

      Vinegar being poured into fabric softener compartment on a top load washer

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      June 25, 2008 Flag
      0 found this helpful

      Does anyone have any new ideas on making your own fabric softeners? I am tired of spending a fortune on the products available in the store. Also, I would like to have a very good recipe for laundry detergent and something to remove spots from clothes (those that appear after you wash them in regular detergent or from other things fading on them). Thanks for any suggestions.

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      August 13, 20090 found this helpful

      I like the convenience of using the dryer sheets and they eliminate static cling in synthetics. I cut each sheet into 4 pieces and I buy store brand dryer sheets. I buy them when a box of 40 sheets sells for around $1. I get 160 uses out of one box.

      If you find cutting the sheets into quarters doesn't give you enough softening, try cutting a sheet into thirds. Using a half sheet is ultra-softening to me and is still cheap. I think the liquid softeners are more costly and I don't like lifting those heavy bottles.

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      October 29, 20091 found this helpful

      Purchase a large bottle of your favorite fabric softner; say for maybe 3 dollars. Then pour into a fine mist bottle, mist 3-6 mists inside of the dryer before adding wet clothes. This provides for the best smelling clothes ever, no dryer sheets to look for and so on the cheap. There are six in my family, one bottle will last 3 or 4 months or more or so. Never had any problems with this and have been doing this for 6-9 years.

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      September 27, 2007 Flag
      0 found this helpful

      Does anyone know if there are any household products that can be used to make "Fabric Softener"? I am on a very low fixed income and I try to make anything I can that will save me money.
      Thanks for any suggestions one might have.

      Diane from Miami, FL

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      February 1, 20100 found this helpful

      Use 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of Vinegar in the rinse cycle. Your clothes will come out just as soft of not better than if you had used fabric softener with perfumey dyes eww..

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      June 11, 20160 found this helpful

      I will definitely try that now.

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      April 6, 2014 Flag
      0 found this helpful

      Where can I find the oil (such as lavender) to add to the fabric softener?

      By Lana

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      December 13, 20140 found this helpful

      You can find this at any health food store, candle/incense section at your supercenters. At times you can even find it at a dollar store. The best is online... Amazon, etc.

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      October 17, 20150 found this helpful

      Jade Bloom has good oils and are affordable.

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      August 10, 2006 Flag

      I need to know about substitutes for fabric softener. I've heard that vinegar may be used, but what about ammonia? I also need information on the amounts.

      Thank you!

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      August 12, 20060 found this helpful

      Can't really attest to any of these but here goes ...

      If you've run out of liquid fabric softener, what can

      you use instead to get you through the rest of the

      wash day? Here's a quick alternative: Go to your bathroom and get your hair conditioner

      (creme rinse) and add 2 capfuls of it to the rinse

      cycle. This will do the trick until you can get to

      the store for a new supply of softener.

      Homemade Fabric Softener Recipe

      1 cup glycerin

      1 gallon water

      essential oil for fragrance, optional

      Laundry Softener

      Recipe #1

      2 Cups White Vinegar

      2 Cups Baking Soda

      4 Cups Water

      Combine slowly and carefully over sink. The baking soda and vinegar will fizz.

      Pour into plastic bottle, cover, and shake.

      *Hint - Reuse your "Downy" bottle.

      Use 1/4 cup in the final rinse or in a "Downy Ball".

      Recipe #2

      2-3 Cups Water

      1 Cup Liquid Fabric Softener

      Large Sponge

      Combine water and liquid softener. Cut sponge in 1/2 and keep in liquid. When drying clothes, remove sponge, squeeze out excess liquid and place in dryer with clothes. When dry, just place sponge back in liquid to be used for next load.

      Homemade fabric softener

      You can also use these products alone to soften:

      Plain White Vinegar - Add 1/2 cup to final rinse.

      Baking Soda - Add 1/4 cup to final rinse.

      Regular Fabric Softener - Dilute and use normally.

      Hair Conditioner or Cream Rinse - Pour 1 tablespoon into damp washcloth and toss in with clothes.

      Also some here:

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      August 12, 20060 found this helpful

      Ammonia is toxic! And if you have bleach in the water (or in most common detergents...) watch out! Better to go with vinegar and/or baking soda. But it will not help with the static electricity...I am still trying to find that help, with out the toxins!

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      September 23, 2009 Flag
      3 found this helpful

      Use it in the laundry wash cycle to take the place of clothes softener. I used it once to get the white socks cleaner and noticed that when I took the clothes from the dryer, they were softer and no clinging was present.

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      January 6, 2011 Flag
      0 found this helpful

      I have seen many people post about the Dugger's fabric softener and say they love it. Can someone post the recipe please? I would love to try it.

      By Kevin from Kansas City, MO

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      January 6, 20110 found this helpful

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      August 29, 2013 Flag
      0 found this helpful

      I was using the commercial liquid softener or dryer sheets and decided I wanted something more ecologically friendly. So I researched what would work in the dryer.

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      January 6, 2011 Flag
      0 found this helpful

      Recently there was a recipe for laundry fabric softener on the site. I lost it. I also wanted to know how much to use per load. Thanks.

      Bonnie from Lawrence, KS


      Recipe for Fabric Softener

      If you look over to the right of your posted request, there are related links. Click on them and you should find what you are looking for.


      By luvmygingerkids

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      June 25, 2008 Flag
      0 found this helpful
      Click to read more ideas from older posts on ThriftyFun.
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