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The idea of making your own fabric softener can feel like a chore, and one not worth doing. After all, you can easily buy a bottle at the supermarket. However, making it yourself is actually a lot easier than you might think. Not only that, but it can end up being cheaper as well. Getting the harsh chemicals out of our life is good for our health and our skin, especially for those with conditions like Eczema or sensitive skin. Let me take you through some great recipes to make your own and end up with great smelling clothes; it only takes a minute.
The Truth About Fabric Conditioner
It’s no secret that fabric softeners are full of chemicals, but it’s also something we put in the back of our mind. Yes, they make your clothes smell incredible; who doesn’t like to wake up smelling like fresh mountain air? But the toxic substances within them are a heavy price to pay for such comfort. They are known as VOCs and are indoor air pollutants.
These are actually able to cause conditions such as asthma, especially if you are already suffering from it. However, they have also been shown to cause hormone disruption, heart disease, headaches and nausea, eye and skin irritation, and possibly even cancer. Of course, research is constantly being done to fully understand the impact of these chemicals, but natural softeners don’t have this kind of effect on people.
How Fabric Softener Works
When you use a commercial conditioner, your clothes are so soft and silky when they are dry. The reason for this is that they have a chemical film over the top of them that gives them this lovely feeling. As a result, everything that is washed with it means the chemicals will be making contact with your skin. Following this, the skin absorbs it, and it can be harmful to our body, or to those who have sensitive skin. This is why going natural and making your own is such a good step forward.
How to Use Homemade Fabric Conditioner
Really, it’s no different to using the stuff you buy from the supermarket; which should come as a relief. However, just to make sure you are confident in your actions, I will quickly highlight the required amounts for each type:
- Liquid Fabric Softener. On the final rinse, add half a cup to the load. You can use a dispenser ball or the drawer on the front of the machine.
- Fabric Softener Sheets. If the sheets are wet, squeeze them until they stop dripping. Add it to your laundry load when you throw it in the dryer, and then dry as normal.
Homemade Fabric Conditioner Essential Oils
There is little better than the feeling of homemade fabric softener when you slide your clothes on. Especially knowing that it doesn’t cause any adverse effects. So, here is one of my top recipes.
- Vinegar, Baking Soda, and Essential Oil Fabric Softener
To get started, let’s take a look at what you’re going to need:
- 4 cups of warm water
- 2 cups of baking soda
- 2 cups of white vinegar
- 10-15 drops of essential oil
Mix the water and the baking soda first, creating a paste. Next, slowly stir the vinegar into the mix until it is all combined. Once this is done, you can add the essential oils and finish stirring it into one solution. Pour the mixture into a container, and use a quarter of a cup with each load of laundry.
Homemade Fabric Conditioner Sheets
For this, you can use a combination of vinegar and essentials oils, or conditioner. If you are going for the latter, make sure it is organic so that you can avoid nasty chemicals. To get started, this is what you will need:
- 3 cups of white vinegar
- 20 drops of essential oil or ½ cup of conditioner
- An old towel or shirt
Take the material you have chosen and cut it into squares; I always recommend cotton. Combine all of your chosen ingredients into a jar and shake well so that they are all mixed up. If you don’t want any foaming, you can stir it instead. Once this is done, place the squares of material into the jar and ensure they are completely covered. When you are ready to use them, remove one sheet and throw it in with the laundry; simple as that. You can even reuse them.
Homemade Organic Fabric Conditioner Recipe
I have got a great little recipe for you here, and the best part? It’s completely organic. So, if you want to ditch all of the commercial rubbish you find in the stores, this is the recipe for you. I hope you love it as much as I do. All it takes are three simple ingredients.
Recipe: Vinegar and Essential Oil Dryer Spray
Here are the things you will need:
- 2 cups of white vinegar
- 3 tsp of essential oil of your choice
- Spray bottle
Pour all the ingredients into the spray bottle to combine them, and then shake to ensure it is fully mixed. It might foam up a little, but it should settle quickly. Spray it 10-15 times onto wet clothes in the dryer, and then turn the machine on. Try not to use more than this, or the smell of vinegar might linger on your clothing.
Dryer Fabric Softener
What greater feeling is there than pulling your clothes out of the dryer and feeling how soft and warm they are? Answer, there is none. Especially in winter. So, here’s my advice for using a dryer fabric softener, and it is actually a lot easier than you might think.
#1 Dryer Sheets
Buying these at the store is not a great idea, because they are single-use a lot of the time, and also filled with chemicals. So, why not make your own? I have mentioned them once or twice already, but here is a new way you may not have thought about yet. The best part? It’s really easy to do.
Take an old shirt, or cloth, any material really, and check that it is 100% cotton. This is because cotton is soft, natural, and will be gentle on your clothes. Cut it into squares and sew them together so that they don’t come apart. Strips will work as well, but I much prefer squares. I would also recommend they are 5x8 inches in size, as this is the same as a standard dryer sheet. All that’s left to do now is add some essential oils of your choice for a subtle scent.
#2 Wool Dryer Balls
Honestly, I love wool dryer balls. They are so useful to have in your home, and they have made life so much easier for me. As they bounce together in the dryer, they reduce static every time they rub up against the fabric. This reduction in static leads to softer clothes that are gentle on the skin. You can also add essential oils for a pleasant and calming odour. What’s better? They last for 1000 cycles before they need to be replaced.
Interestingly, you can also use tennis balls for the same results. They speed drying, just like other dryer balls, and work well to soften clothing. The most important thing to remember is that the dryer balls you use need to be reusable so that you aren’t contributing to unnecessary waste. Even small actions like this can help the planet.
Washing Machine Fabric Softeners
Let’s take a look at some of the great recipes you can use to create the ultimate fabric softener. With any of these, you are sure to have clothes that look, feel, and smell absolutely incredible. Take a look and see which one is going to make its debut in your home.
#1 Homemade Baking Soda Fabric Softener
This could not be an easier recipe, and the only ingredient you need is baking soda. Take half a cup and place it in your washing machine during the rinse cycle in order for it to take effect. If you are using the detergent drawer on the front of the machine, you can put this in at the start as it won’t release until the rinse cycle begins.
#2 Homemade Fabric Softener Crystals
This is really good for those with sensitive skin and eczema because the crystals you buy in the store are often full of harsh chemicals. Here’s what you need for these little homemade crystals:
- 4 cups of Epsom salt
- 40 drops of essential oil
Pour it all into a bowl together, and choose the essential oils that you love the most. For me, mint is the best at helping me to stay calm and relax. I am also a huge fan of a lemon and lime combination, and I recommend giving it a try. When it is mixed, place it in an air-tight container and use two scoops with your laundry for a wonderfully fresh scent and soft clothing.
#3 Epsom Salt and Baking Soda
This is another fantastic recipe that you are sure to love. Here are things you’ll need in order to get started:
- 2 cups of Epsom salt or coarse sea salt
- 20-30 drops of essential oil
- ½ cup of baking soda
Mix the salt and essential oils together in a bowl. Lavender is a great choice if you are feeling stressed and need to relax, or are having trouble sleeping. When you have stirred it all together, pour it into a jar with a lid for storage. It’s such an easy little recipe.
When you are ready to use it, all you need to do is use 2-3 tablespoons with your laundry for that lovely, silky, feeling. Make sure this goes in just before the rinse cycle, or at the start if you are using the drawer on the front of the machine.
#4 Vinegar Fabric Softener
This is another easy one, although all of them have been so far. All you need to do with this is place a splash of white vinegar into your washing machine during the rinse cycle. It deodorises disinfects, and leaves clothes soft and fluffy by the time they come out.
#5 Vinegar and Hair Conditioner Fabric Softener
I could tell you all about this one, but I actually found a great video that shows you just how quick and easy this particular recipe is. It is closer to store-bought softeners than most of the recipes here, but I also know it works for some people. Why not take a look and see what you think of it?
#6 Rosemary Mint Fabric Softener
Here are the ingredients you are going to need to make this:
- 6 cups of water
- 3 cups of white vinegar
- 2 cups of mint and rosemary conditioner OR 20 drops of essential oils
Grab a large bowl and add all the ingredients together. If you want to go down the most natural path, use the essential oils instead of the conditioner. Using a spoon, combine all of the ingredients and mix slowly. Don’t be too vigorous or shake it, as this can cause it to foam up. When this is done, pour it into a container, like a glass jar, ready for use.
When you are ready to use it, simply add two tablespoons to your washing cycle if it is a smaller load. For the larger ones, use a quarter of a cup instead. You can also use this same amount on a homemade dryer sheet if you prefer and just toss it in with the rest of the dryer load.
Easy right? Making homemade fabric conditioners can be simple and a lot of fun. You can still wake up with the sweet odours of the outside world, but without all the nasty side-effects caused by chemical ingredients. In fact, because you are likely to have so many of these ingredients in your home already, I’m willing to bet that it will be a whole load cheaper than picking up a bottle of commercial stuff at the store.
What did you think of my recipe guide? Are you about to embark on your own fabric softener journey, or are you left unconvinced? I love hearing from you, so make sure to leave me a message in the comment section below.
Gemma Tyler is a freelance journalist with 15 years of experience writing for consumer publications. She has tested and reviewed a wide range of household items from vacuum cleaners to washing machines and dehumidifiers to steam irons. Her attention to detail and exhaustive testing certainly makes her an expert in her field.