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Fabric Softener – How to Make your Own

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Fabric Softeners found in stores cost anywhere from four dollars to twenty dollars per bottle! Not only does this save money, but it saves time as well! Save both money and time with this simple recipe.

The ingredients for making fabric softener are likely readily available at home; all you need is baking soda , white distilled vinegar, measuring cup and spoon, a container to hold the ingredients until it is ready for use, and a few drops of your favorite essential oil. The container can be a simple mason jar or any other glass container with an air-tight lid.

Fabric softeners are not actually “solutions” like laundry detergents. They can be solids like dryer sheets (usually with some sort of solid gelling agent) or liquids without gelling agents that would allow them to be called “solutions.” When the clothes come out of the wash, there is no physical difference between a liquid fabric softener and water.

I used to use a commercial fabric softener, but then I started reading the ingredients. It was a long list of chemicals that you don’t want in your laundry water.

High levels of sodium chloride, or table salt, can cause corrosion and discoloration on anything metal near the water by attracting moisture that may be present on metal surfaces.

Phosphates are often found in laundry detergents and can also cause harm, such as promoting algae growth in waterways. Additionally, fabric softeners can contain synthetic fragrances and residues that remain in your clothes even after washing.

homemade fabric softener

What is the best homemade fabric softener?

There are two options for making your own fabric softener. One is vinegar, and one is baking soda. The recipes below will help you choose which one is right for you!
1 Fill a jug with 1 cup of white vinegar and 3 cups of tap water.
2 Shake before each use.
3 Add the mixture to your washing machine’s softener compartment or add directly into the washer during the rinse cycle.
Baking Soda:
1 In a large container, combine ¾ cups borax, ½ cup baking soda, and ½ cup white vinegar.
2 Mix until all ingredients dissolve entirely.
3 Use ½ to 1 cup in your washing machine’s softener compartment or add directly into the washer during the rinse cycle.

How to make fabric softener without baking soda?

Vinegar is a natural fabric softener, so it can be used instead of baking soda when making homemade fabric softeners. Just replace it with vinegar in any of our recipes!

Is there a difference between using vinegar or baking soda?

Baking soda helps soften clothes better by helping get rid of the excess soap that is still on your clothes. Vinegar is also fantastic for fighting stains and brightening whites! No matter which one you choose, they’re both great options!

What ingredients do you need for homemade fabric softener?

The needed ingredients for making your own fabric softener are vinegar, baking soda, and water.

✔️ The vinegar softens fabrics by breaking down the bonds in the fabric that makes them stiff, so you can see why this works so well on towels!
✔️ Baking soda may help soften fabrics by suspending minerals in the wash water and preventing them from resuspending on your clothes.
✔️ To use fabric softener, you will always need to dilute it. Do not add this directly to the drum.

Fabric Softener Recipe

2 cups baking soda
4 cups water
2 cups white vinegar

1 Blend all in sealable jug, shake to blend.
2 To use: Shake jug, Add 1/4 – 1/3 c. to the final rinse cycle.
soft towels using homemade fabric softener

Do store-bought “dryer sheets” work in place of homemade clothes dryer sheet recipes?

Yes! If you don’t want to make your own homemade clothes dryer sheet recipe, just use the ones you already have at home. However, it is essential to know that store-bought dryer sheets are much different from DIY fabric softener recipes.

Store-bought dryer sheets contain lotions and softening chemicals as fabric softeners do so that you can use them as such. The effects on clothes from these lotions are unknown, so use them at your discretion.

How to make a homemade fabric softener dispenser?

– Position the hose of a foaming hand soap container just under the running water in your sink. Insert it into the opening on top of the bottle about an inch.
Pour ¼ cup each of vinegar and warm water into the bottle through one side while holding your finger over the other side pointed toward the sink. Shake well before each use. Note: be sure to adjust liquid measurements according to your specific brand of hand soap; some fill up more than others depending on size (we used Dial).
Use 1-2 times per week in place of laundry detergent for extra softness and a fresh scent!

What is the best way to use less than the recommended amount?

The majority of our home has dark-colored clothing, so we had to make sure they stayed bright! We used half of each ingredient included in each recipe for every load. However, this recipe may not be suitable for you if you are worried about your color fading or are drying lighter items separately or in hotter settings.

Please experiment with fewer ingredients until you find what works best for your needs! If you have white clothes that need extra care using these recipes, feel free to try adding one tablespoon of bleach into the first vinegar mix during step 2.

Note: do not mix baking soda and vinegar together; use one or the other.

What fabrics can you use these homemade fabric softener recipes on?

These homemade fabric softeners are safe for all types of clothes, including delicates! In addition, these recipes will not cause color fading, so they work great with all colors!
static free laundry

What’s inside your favorite brand of fabric softener?

Let’s take a look at contents according to four popular brands: Tide® , Gain® , Snuggle® , and Downy® . Here are three versions of Tide® : one powder, one “2-in-1 cap,” and one liquid.

The first ingredient is water, which makes up between 65-90% of most fabric softeners. The second ingredient is an “active” component that does the actual work of preventing static cling and making clothes feel softer. Active ingredients in liquid fabric softener include cationic polymers (positively charged molecules with multiple nitrogen atoms), fatty alcohols, amphoteric surfactants, fragrance compounds, preservatives, dyes or pigments, hydrotropes (adds extra hold to fixatives like fragrance compounds and dyes/pigments).

Most reactive dyes are too expensive for use as a fabric softener active ingredient due to high costs, so other colorants are used instead. For example, Downy® ingredients include blue dye to make the product look blue instead of clear.

What are commercial fabric softeners made of?

Liquid fabric conditioners, like their name suggests, usually come as liquids that can be poured directly into the washing machine during the rinse cycle. The key ingredients in liquid fabric softeners are cationic surfactants (positively charged molecules with multiple nitrogen atoms), which bind to fabrics and reduce static cling . Nearly all “liquid fabric softeners” use similar combinations of these active ingredients:

Cationic polymers: Polyquaternium-4, Polyquaternium-10, Polyquaternium-11

Fatty alcohols: Stearyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride , Stearyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium saccharinate

Amphoteric surfactants: Cocamidopropyl betaine, Sodium cocoamphoacetate, Disodium cocoamphodiacetate

Hydrotropes: Trisodium ethylene dicocamide PEG-15 disulfate (a type of soap), Disodium EDDS (adds extra hold to fixatives like fragrance compounds and dyes/pigments).

Typical liquid fabric softener formulations also include perfume and hydrotrope. These ingredients can be seen in their full INCI spellings below.

Goddess® Liquid Fabric Conditioner: Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Behentrimonium Chloride, Cetyl Alcohol, Betaine, Methylchloroisothiazolinone (and) Methylisothiazolinone, Citric Acid, Disodium EDTA , Fragrance (Parfum), Blue 1 (CI 42090).

Sweep® Fabric Softener: Water (Aqua), Cetyl Alcohol, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine , Fragance(Parfum), Hydroxypropyl Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride , Citric Acid.

Downy® Unstopables In-Wash Scent Booster: Aqua/Water/Eau , Ethyl Acrylate/Acrylic Acid Copolymer , Alcohol Denat. (SD Alcohol 40-B) , Fragrance , Acrylates Copolymer , Carbomer , Tetrasodium EDTA , Caprylyl Glycol , Ethylhexylglycerin .

Gain® Splurge Booster: Water/Eau/Aqua (Water), Myristic Acid, Linoleamidopropyl PG Diamonium Chloride Phosphate, Sodium C14-C16 Olefin Sulfonate, Coco-Betaine, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Lauramide MIPA, Lauryl Glucoside (and) Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate (and) Aqua/Water/Eau , Glycol Distearate, Cocamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate , Fragrance (Parfum), Caprylyl Glycol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Polyquaternium-39, Hexyl Cinnamal , Benzyl Alcohol.

How do fabric softeners work?

Cationic polymers are positively charged molecules with multiple nitrogen atoms that can bind to negatively charged particles on clothes’ surfaces, such as dirt or pollen. These cationic polymers reduce the static electricity charge of the fabrics, so they feel softer. In addition, the fatty alcohols in liquid fabric softeners help reduce static cling by coating clothes to improve their ability to repel water.

Nonionic surfactants found in liquid fabric softeners can trap water molecules and reduce the force between surfaces, giving clothes a softer feel. Amphoteric surfactants also make fabrics repel water more efficiently by reducing their surface tension.

Nonionics are good at breaking down dirt particles, making them easier to rinse out of clothes during washing. They can attach to different parts of the structure of dirt particles, including the oily outside part or the charged electrical part that makes it soluble in water.

What are the downsides to using fabric softeners?

Some people are sensitive enough that they experience symptoms from exposure to cationic polymers containing dryer sheets. However, people who work in laundry factories have experienced symptoms like this for decades, so it’s not just a few sensitive people. The cationic polymers can also coat your clothes, which reduces their ability to repel water and increases the risk of them becoming dirty.

Because fabric softeners make clothes harder to clean, it can lead to bacteria growth, especially if you don’t fully rinse all the products out of your clothes. In addition, fabric softeners could potentially affect how well detergent cleanses the dirt from fabrics.

Liquid fabric softeners are not recommended for synthetic fabrics because they can damage these materials’ surfaces by changing how they attract or repel water. In addition, some research has shown that repeated use of fabric softener on certain types of cotton leads to decreased cotton quality. This is caused by reducing the amount of air between fibers so that, when they are woven into the fabric, the finished product feels less soft.

Industrial laundry workers have reported that liquid fabric softeners can increase their risk of developing dermatitis. In addition, some studies have shown significant decreases in the number of beneficial microbial species on towels used with fabric softener, so it’s not just an issue for people who use dryer sheets.

There is also some evidence that fabric softeners could contribute to respiratory problems because of how they affect dust mite populations. Finally, if you’re using plants to clean your water before it goes down the drain, liquid fabric softeners can cause problems by reducing plants’ uptake of ions.


In this post, we have explained the benefits of using homemade fabric softener as opposed to commercial brands. We’ve addressed some common concerns and misconceptions people may have about making their own fabric softener and highlighted how easy it is to make your own for a fraction of the cost. With these tips you can save money while protecting our environment from harmful chemicals found in many brands on store shelves today!

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