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Using Vinegar as a Fabric Softener

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


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By 26 found this helpful
March 23, 2011

Making your own fabric softener is so simple, just take a one gallon jug of white vinegar and add your own preference of essential oils. I add 40 drops of the oils to the vinegar and shake back and forth to mix up. During the washer's rinse cycle, add 1/4 cup and it will leave your wash smelling so nice and fresh. It lasts longer than traditional fabric softeners.

By Cassie from Paragould, AR

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March 24, 20110 found this helpful
Top Comment

Hmm... I never thought to add essential oils. Vinegar also works in the wash cycle as an odor eliminator, and part of what vinegar does is help pull all soap residue out of the clothes. I think that may contribute to the softening.

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By 10 found this helpful
June 9, 2009

Add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to your wash. There will be no need to use fabric softener or fabric sheets. It makes your clothes soft. It might take a few washings to get the built up fabric softener out of your cloths. But the money you will save on fabric softener is amazing. I haven't used fabric softener for years.


By CraLinPres from Corpus Christi, TX

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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.

January 18, 20120 found this helpful

I have seen on a few other sites that vinegar will break down the fabric if used in every wash load; is this true?

By Stephanie from MO


January 19, 20120 found this helpful
Best Answer

I've used it for years without a problem, but then again about the only fabrics I use are cottons (most clothing and towels), polyester and cotton blends (bed linens), and acrylics (jumpers, sweaters, jerseys).

Your results may vary due to different fabrics.

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January 20, 20120 found this helpful
Best Answer

Hi Stephanie, Susan from Queensland Australia here.
We have a cleaning guru here that recommends that when doing your washing you need to use 1/8 of the recommended powder (or liquid) suggested on the box, 2 tablespoons of bi-carbonate of soda ( I think you call it baking soda) broadcast over the load and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar in the cup on top of the agitator. This produces the best wash and is also the method to use when washing new sheets, towel etc to get rid of the 'dressing' from the manufacturer (which is toxic).


Most Americans probably won't agree, but she hates and discourages the use of fabric softeners.That's what ruins your wash over time. Hope this helps and Cheers.

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March 23, 20110 found this helpful

Don't waste money on fabric softener! Use white vinegar instead. White vinegar is the best fabric softener you can buy and it's so cheap. Just add half a cup to your final rinse and your washing will come out lovely, soft, and free of any soap residue. Your towels will be soft and fluffy and if you use this method on towels from when they're new they don't "mat" up and will remain soft forever.


To avoid the problem of brand new towels not drying you properly, first wash them in plain cold water (do not add washing product) with 1 cup of vinegar added to the water, allow them to soak for a while, then finish the wash cycle adding half a cup of vinegar to the rinse. This method removes the fabric dressing and they will be absorbent straight away. Any vinegar odor disappears once the item is dry. The added bonus in using white vinegar, is that your washing machine will be sparkling clean inside and doesn't get that awful grime build-up. It's also very eco-friendly!

By Lois from Queensland, Australia


Vinegar as a Fabric Softener

I use vinegar in the rinse water, too. You could use vinegar in your softener dispenser without fear of it clogging. My dispenser is in the center of the agitator. It doesn't hold much so I usually pour in a little more vinegar into the rinse water if I'm nearby. (01/06/2011)


By OliveOyl

Vinegar as a Fabric Softener

I don't know why, but this just doesn't work for me! I've tried the vinegar (I'd rather use it than fabric softener) several times, and it does leave my clothes soft, but they are so full of static I can't pull some of them apart! Any ideas on what to do about this? (01/06/2011)

By Judy = Oklahoma

Vinegar as a Fabric Softener

skinnyjinny: I use about 1/2 cup of white vinegar per load. That translates to 1/4 pint. White vinegar is cheap here--1 gallon for under $2 equals roughly 4 liters for a pound. Hope that helps. (01/07/2011)

By OliveOyl

Vinegar as a Fabric Softener

I use vinegar as a fabric softener! When I read this post, I had to put my two cents in. Yes, it does work! I've been using vinegar as a fabric softener ever since I read about it in a ladies' magazine. I was skeptical at first, but after trying it, I was hooked! And it does not leave a vinegary smell. Love it. (01/07/2011)


By Linda

Vinegar as a Fabric Softener

568ml of white vinegar costs 90p (cheapest) whereas I can get 1.5l of good quality concentrated fabric conditioner for £2 which covers 42 loads! (01/08/2011)

By marion davidson

Vinegar as a Fabric Softener

I not only use vinegar as a fabric softener, but as a laundry deodorizer as well. I measure 2-3 caps of white vinegar into my wash as it's filling, let it agitate a minute or so, and turn it off for 30-60 minutes. I add another 2-3 capfuls to the rinse, but don't stop the cycle then. My clothes are softer than with store-bought fabric softener without the gunk!
I've heard a softball-sized wad of aluminum foil in the dryer also works as a fabric softener, but haven't had the courage to try that. (01/10/2011)

By Lelia Jo Cordell

Vinegar as a Fabric Softener

I've been using vinegar as a fabric softener for a year or so. It doesn't work quite as well as the commercial stuff for removing static cling, but it's close, in the winter I occasionally have a load that tends to cling together, generally when there are nylons in it.

I bought a pair of those plastic, knobby "dryer balls" over a year ago, and I love them! They fluff up the laundry nicely without any chemical additives. I was afraid, when the first one came apart, that they only had a year of use in each pair. Now I realize, with both of them split, that I simply have four hemispheres instead of two balls. Works just as well, if not better, and it's a little quieter. (01/13/2011)

By KS Granny

Vinegar as a Fabric Softener

Sorry to be a spoilsport, maybe it's because I line dry in the sun and not in a dryer. The one time I used vinegar as a fabric softener, my clothes came out stinking something awful of vinegar and the smell stayed on them for days! Never again! (02/04/2011)

By cettina

Vinegar as a Fabric Softener

I have been using vinegar for years in my wash. I use vinegar for line drying and dryer drying and it works. I would not use anything else. (02/05/2011)

By 1stborn

Vinegar as a Fabric Softener

I'm so glad to hear that this tip works! I have read this before and been skeptical, but now I am going to try it! Also the dryer balls. I was skeptical about them too. I hope more people will try this and stop using commercial fabric softeners, both liquid and sheets, as they contain toxic chemicals. I sent in a post about that in November, people keep trying to find uses for used dryer sheets, when they should just throw them away and not use them at all.

Let's continue to spread the word about white vinegar! I'm willing to put up with a little static cling to have laundry free of toxic chemicals. I think static is more of a problem in dry conditions, and less where it's humid. My house gets dry in the winter, so I plug in a vaporizer from time to time to add a little humidity. If anyone has a tip for cutting down on static in the fresh laundry, though, please pass it along. (02/06/2011)

By Pixiedust7

Vinegar as a Fabric Softener

I add white vinegar to both the wash and rinse cycles. I generally stop the washer after it's agitated a minute and soak the load for up to an hour before continuing the cycle. White vinegar is a great odor-fighter as well as fabric softener. (02/06/2011)

By Lelia Jo Cordell

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February 3, 20110 found this helpful

I'm really sick of having hard scratchy towels. I have never used softener on them as that's supposed to stop them from absorbing water and I don't have a dryer so they are either dried inside on a rack or outside on the line. They weren't super cheap, just average.

Does anyone know how I can soften them up? Does anyone here use fabric softener on towels?

Thanks so much!


Soft Fluffy Towels

I use a homemade fabric softener - 2 cups vinegar, 2 cups baking soda, and 4 cups water. The terry cloth towels are still kinda scratchy when I line dry but its live-able. The velour - like towels are nice though. Both kinds are lovely out of the dryer. I would love to find a homemade fabric softener that works on line dried towels, but I think it's just going to be something I have to live with. (09/28/2005)

By Terry Lynn

Soft Fluffy Towels

I find that if I shake the towels before they are completely dry, the towels are softer. Just hang them back up until completely dry. I use white vinegar in the rinse cycle for softening. (09/28/2005)

By Dee

Soft Fluffy Towels

I also line dry all my laundry (very, very rarely use my clothes dryer) and I do use fabric softener but I will dilute it (half water, half softener or whatever you prefer). This way they do become a bit softer but without losing a lot of the absorbency. I also shake everything before hanging them to help reduce wrinkles. Sometimes it's almost a trial and error type of thing before you get them the way you like. I've been told that constant drying in the dryer will eventually wear them out. Hope this helps a little.

LI Roe (09/28/2005)

By Roseanna

Soft Fluffy Towels

I've just decided scratchy towels is the price I have to pay for saving all that money by not using the dryer. I've found that by the third "using", they are pretty soft. (09/28/2005)

By Katie

Soft Fluffy Towels

I live in the Mediterranean, and we steam-iron everything that is line-dried in order to make it softer. I usually take the towels off the line when they are almost dry, (I'm way too lazy to iron towels!) and then fold them. (09/29/2005)

By Jenny

Soft Fluffy Towels

Been using fabric softener on my towels for years. Just use half or less of the amount called for and make up the difference in water if you use a softener dispenser in your washer. Also, is it possible that you have towels that are just plain scratchy?

Go to an expensive department store and feel the weight and softness of one of the expensive towels. Now think about your towels.

Good deals on expensive towels can be found at TJ Maxx, Tuesday Morning, Marshall's, and Ross. (09/29/2005)

By Holly

Soft Fluffy Towels

(b)My tip for softer clothes and linens:(/b)

Don't use fabric softener in your washer. Instead, add some water softener (a capful of Calgon for example) to the wash water along with your usual soap or detergent. Generally, your clothes will come out cleaner and softer with little or no soap residue. Your air-dried towels will be softer and just as absorbent. In addition, you probably won't need to use bleach or other laundry additives if you add water softener. You may be able to cut back on the detergent or soap as well. (09/29/2005)

By Amanda

Soft Fluffy Towels

Try putting about a cup full of white vinegar to the rinse water. This seems to help make towels softer. Good luck!(10/02/2005)

By Sue

Soft Fluffy Towels

A cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle works wonders! Also to freshen towels, try a 1/2 cup of baking soda in the wash cycle. Dryer sheets and softeners are horrible on towels, due to the fact they leave a silicone coating on them. Good luck! (10/04/2006)

By Jacqueline

Soft Fluffy Towels

I tried vinegar. I don't care what anyone says, it does make it smell of vinegar. (05/26/2009)

By ashley

Soft Fluffy Towels

I rarely use my clothes dryer to dry clothes. Instead, I hang clothes out to dry then I will put them in the dryer on "no heat" and fluff up my load of laundry. It only takes about 5 minutes and it makes towels and everything nice and fluffy. (I've been using fabric softener but would like to try a recipe for homemade fabric softener.) (07/10/2010)

By Ally

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January 6, 20110 found this helpful

Using Vinegar as a Fabric Softener. I finally got around to trying white vinegar as a replacement for fabric softener. IT WORKS!

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September 5, 20060 found this helpful

If you want soft clothes out of the dryer, but hate the expense of a softener, just use a dash of vinegar. Just a quarter cup or a little more for a large load in the washer, does the trick.

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