Homemade Fabric Softener Recipes

Generic Fabric Softener Bottles
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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August 19, 2005

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

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.

  • 2 cups of your favorite scented conditioner
  • 3 cups of white vinegar
  • 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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    Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
    June 3, 2015

    I found that vinegar 'softens' fabrics as well as any commercial fabric softener I've ever used. 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.

    Comment Was this helpful? 5

    September 23, 2009

    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.

    Comment Was this helpful? 6

    August 29, 2013

    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.

    Comment Was this helpful? Yes

    16 Questions

    Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

    September 27, 2007

    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


    Bronze Request Medal for All Time! 66 Requests
    September 27, 20070 found this helpful

    My friend buys fabric softener sheets from the dollar store and cuts them in half. She says you don't need the whole sheet. Maybe this would be cheaper than making them.

    Reply Was this helpful? Yes
    September 27, 20070 found this helpful

    Add white vinegar to the last rinse. Everything comes out soft and NO! you will not smell like vinegar!


    The same amount of vinegar that you would have used of liquid fabric softener will be fine.

    Reply Was this helpful? Yes

    Silver Feedback Medal for All Time! 290 Feedbacks
    September 28, 20070 found this helpful

    As soon as I buy a box of dryer sheets, I cut all of them in 4ths and they last me for a very long time.

    Reply Was this helpful? Yes
    By Becki in Indiana (Guest Post)
    September 28, 20070 found this helpful

    I use white vinegar (as suggested by a previous poster). I buy it by the gallon jug, and stock up during canning/pickling season when it goes on special!

    Reply Was this helpful? Yes
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    June 25, 2008

    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 10, 2006

    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!


    By carla bledsoe (Guest Post)
    August 11, 20060 found this helpful

    you use about 1/4 cup per washload. if you have really hard water you might use 1/2 cup.
    if i was going to use anything else it would probably be baking soda. about 1/4 cup per load.


    i know ammonia helps to cut grease in the wash but i've never heard of it as a softener.
    the more soap and residue you can get out of the clothes the softer they'll be.

    Reply Was this helpful? Yes
    By sylvia segel (Guest Post)
    August 11, 20060 found this helpful

    buy 1 large carton fabric softener-1pastic container sprayer. fill sprayer with about 1/4 of softener plus the rest water. shake well. when drying load place a thin rag i n dryer spray rag with about 8-10 times the softener mixture & START DRYER. The clothes come out soft. This concotion lasts until the fabric softener is gone.

    Reply Was this helpful? Yes
    By Linda (Guest Post)
    August 11, 20060 found this helpful

    One way to save with fabric softeners is using the softener sheets. One sheet can be used up to four times. When you have used it once, snip off a corner. second time, snip a second corner. Once all four corners are snipped, it's time to get rid of it. I buy generic, that helps too. I only have one or two loads of laundry a week, because I live alone. This tip would help a lot if you do lots of laundry.

    Reply Was this helpful? Yes
    August 11, 20060 found this helpful

    Ammonia is rather dangerous. Even though it's a common houselhold item. Or used to be. I would avoid it if possible. I never keep it in my house any more.

    Reply Was this helpful? Yes
    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:

    Reply Was this helpful? Yes

    Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 233 Feedbacks
    August 12, 20061 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!

    Reply Was this helpful? 1
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    April 6, 2014

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

    By Lana

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    June 26, 2012

    Does anyone have a recipe for homemade liquid fabric softener?

    By Annette

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    January 6, 2011

    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 11, 2014

    How can I make a nice aroma conditioner for a dark clothes?

    By Yolanda A. from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    Answer this Question

    May 29, 2019
    Read More... Pin it! Was this helpful? Yes

    June 20, 2016

    This is a page 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

    Read More... Pin it! Was this helpful? Yes
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