DIY natural fabric softener keeps your clothing, towels, and blankets both feeling soft and smelling fresh. Commercially manufactured fabric softeners, even some “organic” ones, are comprised of potentially harmful chemicals.
Fabric softeners not only keep your clothing looking, smelling, and feeling their best, they also prevent static cling, and reduce soap residue. It is entirely possible to replicate the intended use of fabric softeners without slathering chemicals all over your body. Creating clothesline fresh fabric softener naturally in your own home requires very little time or expense.
Unlike commercially manufactured and chemical laden fabric softeners, the natural homemade version will not leave a slippery or gummy film on your clothing, bedding, and towels.
Recipe #1: Baking Soda
Simply place 1 to 2 tablespoons per load of baking soda into your washing machine to decrease the pH balance of the water being used. This softens the water, and helps the rinsing stage of the cycle to be a lot cleaner.
Recipe #2: Distilled White Vinegar
Pour two capfuls of distilled white vinegar into the washer during the rinse cycle to break down soap residue left on the laundry load, and to help deodorize the fabric items. I promise you the laundry will not smell at all like vinegar when you remove it from the washer.
To infuse a pleasant smell into laundry load, pour in two to four drops of lavender or a citrus essential oil into the fabric softener dispenser along with the vinegar.
Recipe #3: Vegetable Glycerin
This natural ingredient is used in a plethora of beauty products and lotions. Glycerin both softens and moisturizes the clothing because of its hygroscopic ability to absorb moisture from the air, abilities. Glycerin is a natural byproduct of soapmaking.
Recipe #4: Vinegar, Glycerin, and Oil
- 2 cups of water
- Up to 15 drops of essential oil – lavender, citrus, eucalyptus, and jasmine, are recommended
- 2 cups of distilled white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable glycerin
- Mix together the vegetable glycerin, water, and distilled white vinegar in a Mason jar or jug.
- Pour in the essential oil you have chosen.
- Put the lid and ring on the Mason jar or cap on the jug, and shake vigorously.
- Pour the DIY natural fabric softener into the dispenser of the washing machine as needed with each load.
- You can also cut 5-inch squares out of cotton and spray them with the fabric softener solution and use them as dryer sheets. Some folks squirt the solution on tennis balls or wool balls and toss them into the dryer to soften the laundry and reduce static cling.
Recipe #5: Epsom Salts and Baking Soda Fabric Softener Crystals
- ½ cup of baking soda
- 2 cups of Epsom salts – or use a coarse sea salt
- Up to 25 drops of essential oils
- Combine 2 cups of Epsom salt or the coarse sea salt, and the chosen essential oils.
- Mix in the baking soda.
- Stir the DIY natural fabric softener crystals thoroughly to combine.
- Store the homemade fabric softener in a Mason jar or similar container with a firm fitting lid.
- To use, add up to 3 tablespoons of the Epsom salts, baking soda, and essential oil fabric softener crystals to each wash load before starting the machine. I do not use the fabric softener dispenser when using the crystals but merely toss them into the washer drum as it fills up with water.
More Ways To Cut Down On Static Cling
1. Dry your clothing outside on the line instead of in a dryer. This seems to especially help if you wear clothing, or have bedding and towels made out of synthetic material.
2. Moisten your hands with lukewarm water, and fluff the fabric items as you remove them from the dryer and before folding.
When you make your own natural fabric softener you not only know, but entirely control what goes in the body and comes into contact with your family. You just might be surprised at how the chemicals in commercially manufactured fabric softeners were impacting your skin and possibly even your health, once they are finally out of your system.
It typically takes at least a few laundry cycles for your clothing, bed linens, towels, and wash clothes to finally be rid of all the chemical ingredients that have so long been infused into them.
What Is In Commercially Produced Fabric Softener?
Have you ever read the label on the back of a bottle of fabric softener at the store? When I did for the first time I have to admit to having been quite baffled. Instead on a long list of ingredients I either could or could not pronounce, all the label revealed was that the produce was comprised of “Biodegradable Fabric Softening Agents (Cationic).”
Hmmm. Not grasping what that meant, I whipped out my cell phone and did a little quick research. The results of my online sleuthing were a bit shocking, to say the least.
Cationic softening agents is merely a general purpose and rather vague way of not marking in big bold print that the jug in your hand is full of chemicals.
According to multiple reports, including a rather detailed one on Sixwise, the most harmful ingredients in fabric softener (and dryer sheets) include:
• Benzyl Acetate – linked to pancreatic cancer
• Benzyl Alcohol – irritant to the upper respiratory tract irritant
• Ethanol – linked to central nervous system disorders
• Limonene – a carcinogen)
• Chloroform – also a carcinogen and a neurotoxin
Fabric softeners are created to remain on your clothing, towels, and bedding for extended periods of time. The chemicals in the products can be absorbed directly into your skin or inhaled.
When using dryer sheets that are comprised of many of the same chemical compounds as liquid fabric softener, the potential health effects could be worse.
The chemicals in dryer sheets are heated up in the dryer and tossed about, releasing their ingredients into the air and possibly causing respiratory health risks. Because dryers are vented, the chemicals in the sheets also flow outdoors and expand the potential ill effects even further.
All of those delicious and tension relieving smells of mountain freshness, Hawaiian flowers, etc. in fabric softener, come with quite a risk. Fabric softeners, lotions, soaps, all purpose cleaners, air fresheners, shampoos, and deodorants commonly available on a store shelf near your, contain and emit more than 100 volatile organic compounds – VOCs.
These VOCs indoor air pollutants may cause either long-term or immediate (or both) health problems. VOCs could cause heart disease, hormone disruption, headaches, cancer, congestion, asthma, eye irritation, and nausea…just to name a few.
Some volatile organic compounds have even been labeled as hazardous or toxic by the federal government. If you think buying fabric softener (or other products as noted above) that claim to be “natural,” “green,” or organic, will prevent introducing VOCs into your home – think again.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission, the government agency tasked with regulating home cleaning, laundry, and air freshening supplies DOES NOT mandate the disclosure of ingredients on product labels. On average, 17 VOCs are emitted from fabric softeners and related products.
The United States Food and Drug Administration also governs personal care items and fragrances, in addition to edibles and medications. That agency also does not require manufacturers to label ingredients on those products, either.
Tara lives on a 56 acres farm in the Appalachian Mountains, where she faces homesteading and farming challenges every single day, raising chickens, goats, horses, and tons of vegetables. She’s an expert in all sorts of homesteading skills such as hide tanning, doll making, tree tapping, and many more.
2 thoughts on “DIY Natural Fabric Softener”
I make my own laundry solutions now – ever since I discovered that chemical fragrances can disrupt the body’s endocrine system. Guess what I now suffer with after a lifetime of using commercial products; yes, hypothyroidism! But, it seems I got off lightly reviewing all the other conditions mentioned above. My fabric softener solution is the same recipe except that I substitute citric acid (lemon by-product) for the vinegar. I also throw into the tumbler some wool-wrapped ceramic balls to help soften the fabrics. Does the job well.
I haven’t used fabric softeners in years. I have some of those plastic balls that seem to do a pretty good job. I’ve also heard of people using tennis balls.