Besides being filled with chemicals I don’t want in my house or on my skin, fabric softeners are expensive. Homemade fabric softener is a frugal option that can be chemical free. Over the years, I have gradually let go of my dependence on name brand fabric softeners and dryer sheets, with each step becoming more and more frugal.
DIYs or homemade products may seem daunting at first because you might be thinking it may damage clothes. But chemicals in brand name softeners can gradually do that as well and you may even have a case of allergies!
DIY laundry products give you the freedom to not only choose chemical-free ingredients but have more wiggle room to customize your own homemade fabric softener even by the gallons. You’ll even save money because most of the tips and ingredients below are everyday items that you probably have in your pantry right now.
Baking Soda Fabric Softener
Baking soda is one of the most versatile home remedies that is also fairly cheap. It’s used to remove odors, unclog drains, and with clothes they amp up the detergent and bleach performance when you mix them in.
To soften clothes using baking soda, just add in half a cup while the rinse cycle is ongoing and leave it to do its job. It’s really simple! Since it’s also a natural mineral, using these on baby clothes shouldn’t be a problem.
Homemade Dryer Sheets
Soak small pieces of sponge or a cut up tee shirt in liquid fabric softeners (a piece of towel works well too!) Squeeze it out and toss it in the dryer with your load. A repurposed baby wipes container is the perfect size for this. Keep it with your laundry detergent and it will always be convenient.
Plain Old Vinegar
Use one cup of distilled white vinegar in each load of laundry. Place it in the fabric softener dispenser instead of liquid fabric softener. (You can also use a Downy ball if you don’t have a dispenser.) I resisted using straight vinegar for several years thinking my clothes would smell like vinegar. However, once I tried it, I realized not only did they not smell like vinegar, they smelled fresher! (Click here for more ideas on how to use vinegar to clean your home.)
Mix one cup of white distilled vinegar and 1 1/2 teaspoons of eucalyptus essential oil in a spray bottle. Use about 10-15 squirts of the bottle for a full load of clothes (less if it is a smaller load.) I have found that squirting about three times every three or four pieces of clothing distributes the spray more evenly than squirting all on top of the load. The smell of the eucalyptus and vinegar with dissipate as the clothes dry but will leave your laundry soft and fresh.
Epsom Salt and Essential Oils
Epsom Salt has a lot of uses, some of them as a relaxing foot bath, a DIY scrub, and even an alternative fabric softener crystals. It’s easy to make them, just mix ten drops of your favorite essential oil to a cup of epsom salt.
Clothes will be softened when you add at least a 1/4 cup per load at the beginning of the washing cycle.
Wool Dryer Balls
These can last to up to 1000 loads and usually come in packs for less than $10. Wool dryer balls prevent clothes from clumping together as well as help with faster drying because they retain heat.
Did you know a few drops of essential oil on them before loading them in the dryer with your clothes can be a way to soften them as well? Just make sure not to coat these because you might end up with oily clothes!
Fabric Softener Sponges
DIY fabric softener sponges that are a frugal way to soften your clothes in the dryer. All you’ll need is make a mixture of your homemade fabric softener (look above for recipes), mix it in 1 cup of water, and add essential oil if your mixture doesn’t have it yet.
You can get the sponges in the dollar store. Cut two to three pieces in one-by-four inch rectangles and layer them in a square plastic container. Pour in your mixture and let it sit. To use, after loading your wet laundry in the dryer, squeeze a sponge of the excess solution and just pop it in with the clothes. After using, you can pop the sponge back in the container to reuse for future laundry loads.
Before using this method- remember you can use the cheapest brand of conditioner you can find. No need for expensive brands because clothes won’t need those extra benefits anyway.
Just mix a cup of conditioner with 5 cups of hot water and 3 cups of vinegar. Add in 1/4 cup during the rinse cycle of your laundry.
Because most of the items here can be bought in bulk for cheap, you learn how to make fabric conditioner for business. You can sell homemade fabric softener gallons at maybe at a farmer’s market or at your local community gathering.
Consumers love all-natural products due to studies popping up about the harmful effects of chemical softeners that most brand names carry.
You can also give your homemade concoctions as a frugal but useful gift to friends and families. Just pack them in a jar or bottle and pretty them up with some ribbons and maybe a nice homemade card.
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