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Homemade Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets


You’re probably familiar with our  homemade laundry detergent, so today let’s learn how to soften laundry (and save money) with natural fabric softener and dryer sheets.

Also related is our tutorial on how to make wool dryer balls – they’re great for reducing drying time, softening clothes, and reducing static cling.

If you want to learn WHY we make our own – and why you should too – scroll down and prepare to have your mind blown by facts revealing how dangerous chemical perfumes in commercial cleaning products really are.

Vinegar Laundry Softener

Vinegar is my fabric softener of choice.  Aside from being a natural softener, it also removes soap residue in the washing machine and reduces static in the dryer. You can add vinegar to a Downy ball and throw it in with your laundry, or pour vinegar directly into the fabric softener dispenser if your washing machine has one. I have even added 1-2 drops of my favorite essential oil to the vinegar in the softener dispenser. My mother caught me standing over the washing machine one day with a glass dropper in one hand and a bottle of lavender essential oil in the other, and commented that it looked as though I was running a science lab out of my laundry room. I feel like a scientist sometimes as I experiment with combinations of my favorite oils in the laundry.  Sweet orange brightens and fights stains, lavender offers a calming effect, and peppermint can help fight tough odors on clothing.

You can pre-mix your fabric-softening vinegar by using the following recipe:


A simple solution:

Lavender-scented softener is one of my favorites, or a combination of sweet orange and lemon when I need a pick-me-up on laundry day!  A third suggestion is to use peppermint for an invigorating minty scent.

To use:

Just shake well before each use and it’s ready for the rinse cycle. For small or average loads add ½ cup to the rinse cycle, or a little more for large loads. (UPDATE: A helpful reader with an HE washer advises that about ¼ cup works perfectly for full loads.)

Note: Once clothes are dry you will not notice the scent of this homemade fabric softener. Many readers have asked, “So why use them?” One benefit of including the essential oils is that many contain antibacterial properties and will help disinfect laundry. (Lavender, sweet orange, lemon, and peppermint [and many more!] are all antibacterial.) Essential oils like lemon and sweet orange have also been known to brighten laundry and fight stains. Feel free to leave out essential oils if you wish…vinegar is also antibacterial. I’m a sucker for essential oils in my laundry mainly because I enjoy the aromatherapy the oils provide during this mundane chore! 

Dryer Sheets are easy too

Over the past few years we have researched many alternatives to commercial dryer sheets. Why? Because there is evidence that toxic fragrance chemicals can be present in commercial dryer sheets that can be absorbed into your skin when you put your clothes on. This was enough to convince me that commercial dryer sheets might not be the best choice for my family, and the cost savings of do-it-yourself dryer sheets was an added bonus. You will love experimenting with different scents along the way, and will never have to put dryer sheets on your grocery list again! (Note: These dryer sheets will not soften laundry, and are mainly for added scent. Use vinegar in the rinse cycle of the wash and felted wool balls in the dryer to soften and decrease static.)

Cut cotton cloth into small squares. I use 5-inch squares of cotton t-shirts that I’m retiring. Add 3-5 drops of essential oil to your cloth and throw it in the dryer with your next load. These cotton dryer sheets can be used for 2 or 3 loads, each time adding 3 more drops of your favorite essential oil. Wash the cloth after a few uses and experiment with a new fragrance the next time! Some of my personal favorites are lavender, lemon, or grapefruit. (find pure essential oils here)

If you don’t have essential oils and would like to try some other safe alternatives, consider the following:

  • Dampen hands with water and fluff laundry as it comes out of the dryer to reduce static cling.
  • Line dry clothing to avoid static cling altogether.
  • Hang dry clothing made from synthetic fibers. These items create more static in the dryer.
  • Use felted wool dryer balls to fluff clothing, reduce drying time, and cut down on static. (Learn how to make your own or find them on etsy.com – get at least 6 to be used in each load for best results.)
  • Although I’m unsure of the “natural” factor of aluminum foil in the dryer, this one works! A ball of aluminum foil in the dryer does wonders for decreasing static! It turns into a nice smooth ball and can be left in the dryer for many loads. 

I probably spend too much time in my “science lab” now, experimenting and enjoying the laundry aromatherapy. I’m also enjoying the peace of mind knowing that I am not putting chemicals into my family’s laundry.

You won’t believe these Facts about Chemical Perfumes

A recent study revealed that many of the top-selling commercially scented cleaning products – including: air fresheners, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, disinfectants, dish detergents, all-purpose cleaners, soaps, hand sanitizers, lotions, deodorants, and shampoos – emit more than 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including some that are classified as toxic or hazardous by federal laws.

Even products advertised as “green,” “natural,” or “organic” emitted as many hazardous chemicals as standard ones.

From the study:

“Steinemann and colleagues found the average number of VOCs emitted was 17. Each product emitted 1–8 toxic or hazardous chemicals, and close to half (44%) generated at least 1 of 24 carcinogenic hazardous air pollutants, such as acetaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, formaldehyde, or methylene chloride. These hazardous air pollutants have no safe exposure level, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Of the 133 VOCs detected, only ethanol was listed on any label (for 2 products), and only ethanol and 2-butoxyethanol were listed on any Material Safety Data Sheet (for 5 products and 1 product, respectively).

The Consumer Product Safety Commission, which regulates cleaning supplies, air fresheners, and laundry products, currently does not require manufacturers to disclose any ingredients on the label, including fragrances in these products. The same is true for fragrances in personal care items, which are overseen by the Food and Drug Administration. The Household Product Labeling Act, currently under review in the U.S. Senate, would require manufacturers to label consumer products with all ingredients, including fragrance mixtures. “Disclosing all ingredients could be a first step to understanding potential toxicity and health effects,” says Steinemann.

Make Products Yourself!

If all that data doesn’t convince you to begin making your own cleaning products, I don’t know what will.

Homemade fabric softener and dryer sheets contain only what you choose to put in them - that’s part of the beauty of making your own cleaners.  Commercial dryer sheets coat your clothing with a thin film of artificial chemical perfumes. Sensitivity to these chemical perfumes decreases over time, but when you stop using them your senses return to normal and you won’t believe how noticeable and repulsive the artificial fragrance chemicals are.

Your clothes will take a few wash cycles to lose the coating from commercial detergents and softeners, but the sooner you get started the sooner your family will be free from harsh chemicals and perfumes.

Try the above solution next time you do laundry… we made the switch and will never go back!

Want to learn more? Find more recipes and information like this in our DIY Natural Household Cleaners book.

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References and Resources


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Comments

  1. Jeanine says

    Hi, have an HE machine. How do I use the vinegar for my softener? Do I have to stand there and wait for the final rinse and then throw it directly into the drum? Or can it be added in the softener area of the drawer? Does not seem like the drawer will hold even 1/2 a cup let a lone a full cup for larger bed linen or towel loads?

    • Betsy Jabs says

      We have 4 oz. bottles of most of our oils. We’ve had them for a few years (and barely seem to be making a dent in most of them). I don’t recommend purchasing this much, because it takes a LONG time to use them up, and are not good indefinitely. Each essential oil starts losing potency at some point during its life…some faster than others. It depends on the oil and how well you follow storage recommendations. Purchasing smaller bottles is more realistic for most.

      • JANICE says

        Oh, great, I just ordered vanilla in 2 oz and lavender in 3 oz. I agree that they could go rancid after awhile. Thanks for all this good info.

  2. tami says

    -probably a silly question, but can I use the juice from a grapefruit, rather than grapefruit essential oil on my homemade dryer sheet?

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Tami…I would advise against this. I wouldn’t want you to end up with sticky laundry. Also, since essential oils are very concentrated, you would have to add a lot of grapefruit juice to get the same scent and benefits…causing you to have dirty laundry.

  3. Kari says

    We are filling our dispenser with vinegar, but you can really smell the vinegar after the clothes dry. Any suggestions?

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Hmmm…this shouldn’t be the case with vinegar. But try adding the essential oils to the vinegar if you have not already. You could also reduce the amount of vinegar you’re using.

    • Laura says

      If I use too much vinegar, my clothes will smell like it at the end of the cycle. To help combat that, I use a downy ball and never fill any higher than the large load line, usually staying at the medium line.

      • Amory says

        I had this problem when using 1/2 cup. Too much! Cut it down to 1/4. It should be fine. I also heard vinegar is a great rinse agent. My 12 year old has had several episodes of the “mystery rash” and we would scramble to change our detergent and/or softener. This hasn’t happened since I started using the homemade detergent and the vinegar rinse. The safety and comfort of my family means everything. Awesome! Thanks as always for the great information on this site!

  4. Arletha says

    I’m afraid using essential oil will leave oily marks on my clothes. I used to use a washcloth with liquid fabric softener sprayed on it, and some of our clothes would get spots on them that I could never get out. Any problems with the oils?

    • Betsy Jabs says

      We have never had a problem with the oils leaving marks on clothing. As long as you only use a few drops on each homemade dryer sheet you should be fine. :)

    • Kathleen says

      About the spots on clothes:
      I have been using sponges (cut into 1/2) that are moistened with my SOLUTION (1 part softner & 3 parts water in a wide-mouthed plastic container with Lid) and have a suggestion to avoid spots on clothes. Get the cloths/sponges/whatever wet with water & your solution and wring it out until it is just moist = then place “it” in the SIDE of the dryer, BUT away from the clothes while you finish up (cleaning out the lint trap, lost socks, kids, whatever distracts you from hitting the start button instantly….) Now the dryer will keep the cloths/sponges moving and not spot the clothes. I had spots at first and figured out that the sponges were “leaking” on the clothes; liquid softner is not meant to be dried, therefore I had spots.
      Been doing this for 4 months and have one sponge that is just about to finally tear and I have yet to get to the bottom of the one jug of softner that I bought.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      This is the problem (or the benefit) of non-chemical scents…the smell will not linger for a long time because your clothes are not being coated with chemicals. Essential oils offer a light scent that isn’t overpowering, but doesn’t stick around for a long time.

    • Mary says

      I grabbed a handful of lavender from my yard and put it in a mesh bag along with my sheets to dry. There was a *faint* scent left on them the first night. I used a too-large mesh, too, and had a couple of dried lavender sticks to shake out.
      But I’ll do it again. :)

    • Laura says

      The wool dryer ball maker that I am using recommends putting two to three drops of essential oils on each dryer ball. She even makes her own blends! :)

  5. Leah says

    I use wool dryer balls that I made my self helps the wash dry much quicker and you can add scent to the ball as well and it helps with static..

      • Jessica says

        I use the wool dryer balls. Super easy to make. Only use 100% wool yarn. Roll the yarn into balls about the same size. I bought two things of wool yarn from Hobby Lobby and it made 4 balls. Little smaller than tennis balls. Stick the balls into a leg of panty hose. One at a time and tie it off with bakers twine in between each ball. Throw in the washer with hot water and then dry them on hot heat. This is how you make them felt. Hope that helps.

  6. Shirl says

    Thank you so much for sharing Betsy in what you do and God bless you! :-) My sister in law brought this to my attention and as soon as I read up on it more I’m starting today to change all that and throwing away those commercial fabric sheets and fabric softeners! It’s so sad and disturbing how is it possible this is legal?! I emailed many family and friends about this too! This is not meant to keep to yourself it’s meant to pass on the knowledge. :-)

    shirl

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Good for you Shirl! It IS very disturbing that many cleaning products, cosmetics, etc., don’t have stringent standards on what chemicals can be added. Very scary for the consumer, indeed! Thanks for sharing our information!

  7. Jennifer says

    I am so happy that I found this page. I can not wait to try all this stuff out, and I am definitly going to try the foil ball.

  8. says

    I made laundry soap from a recipe that I found on here, I used 15 drops of Lemon Do Terra essential oil and 20 drops of Wild Orange. It smells and works like magic. I am so happy to find liquid softener that I can use my oils in. Can’t wait to try it.

    • JANICE says

      Christy,
      Is this recipe for laundry soap or softener?
      Can you use plain lemon EO? What’s Do Terra?
      thanks,
      Jan

    • says

      Make sure to buy essential oils and not just fragrance oils which are usually made with synthetic ingredients. Best to keep away from your skin. Try to use medical grade or thereuputic grade essential oils around your home and body.

  9. phelan says

    I hope this doesnt sound dumb, but if you put the oils on the sheet of fabric as a dryer sheet, are the oils considered flammable? Also, I have used vinegar as a fabric softener and what I do is just put it in a downy ball and throw it in the washer instead of waiting for the rinse cycle and it works perfect for me. Never any vinegar smell even when the clothes are wet!

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Not dumb at all…in fact I believe we discussed this a little somewhere in the comments above. There is such a small amount of oil (only a few drops) on each homemade dryer sheet that I’m personally not concerned about this. We have been using this method for several years now without a problem. However, essential oils are technically flammable, so you’ll want to use good judgement when using them with heat.

  10. Amanda says

    Does this prevent static cling? That’s the #1reason i even use fabric softener. If it works, would love to try this.

    Thanks!

  11. L says

    “Sensitivity to these chemical perfumes decreases over time, but when you stop using them your senses return to normal and you won’t believe how noticeable and repulsive the artificial fragrance chemicals are.”

    This is so true! I wish I could explain this to others…how they stink. It can be detergents, soaps, fabric softeners, shampoos, deodorant, perfumes, hair products, candles, incense, etc… and it can also get into gifts and such that have been in their home as well, causing it to linger elsewhere when it is passed on. Unless you can wash the item in the wash repeatedly, it continues to off-gas indefinitely. Even then, sometimes it stays.

    We have been chemical fragrance free in our home for many years now. Nobody really knows how stinky they really are when they come here. At times it can be nauseating and headache causing depending on the choice of scents or combination. Considering how newborns are so new, I sometimes wonder how overwhelming this is for them if we notice it so much ourselves as adults.

    Now my biggest problem is finding a solution to get rid of cigar smoke in items given to us, briefly sat on during a visit here, things that had smoky things even briefly just touch them, etc. Perfumes only hide the issue (and we noticed the smoke smell a bit less when we were not avoiding scents…now when we visit there, bad breathing haunts us for 3 weeks), and we find that these things stink years after the exposure and it still stings our throats and stuffs us up. It is worse than cigarette smoke for clinginess. We have also found that it has damaged our sense of smell to a certain degree, since we can no longer claim a sharp sense of smell anymore. I have tried washing soda, borax, vinegar, airing out in the sun, orange-based cleaners, repeated washings, newspaper wrapped, TSP, oxyclean (yes, even tried scented things…ick…made it worse), etc., all with no effect. I know that soaking an item in milk takes care of a musty odor, but I don’t have enough to try this out and considering that furniture is involved, it is not possible. We are considering making a glass window box to try to cook the odors out outside, just like the vehicles tend to do (that appears to get it out of the vehicles, anyway), but we haven’t constructed one yet.

    Does anyone have a tried and true solution, or will we just have to refuse gifts and throw things away (we already have to do this with gifted food) if our glass “house” does not work?

    • Cheryl Eustice says

      Have you tried baking soda?Try soaking clothes overnight in baking soda,follow with the vinegar rinse should help too.I agree about fragrance,the more you use,the less sense of smell you have.Even unscented has a fragrance,they use just enough to cover the chemical smells ! I have many air allergies,allergic to everything.I was told to use no fragrance.I was suprised to find my sense of smell coming back.My husband and I just about run by the laundry section in stores.We can’t stand the smell.Even my Asthma starts kicking in.I even used make-up with no fragrance.I told my husband,” No wonder why my Grandfather called it war paint”. It does smell just like paint! I thought he was talking about the battle of the sexes.My daughter-in-law won’t give up frabic softner.I too worry about my new grandson.Fragrance must be so over powering for him.I know her clothes give me a headache.Did you know with all natural fabrics,there is no need for fabric softner? Fabric softners came on the market shortly after polyester (plastic) fabrics did.I still feel young but I am old enough to remember a time before fabric softners,pre-soaks,plastic garbage bags,paper towels,sandwhiches wrapped in wax paper and,my grandmother used spoolies to set her hair.
      A tip I once read from a reader’s digest book.Use a couple of tennis balls to fluff up laundry in the dryer and remove static cling.Another tip-Don’t use fabric softner with your bath towels,it coats them and they won’t absorb as much .

      I have used vinegar in my laundry for many years now, I never had a problem with my clothes smelling like vinegar when dry.Vinegar even cleans the air from smoke.Does anyone iron anymore?Years ago I asked myself why am I softening clothes and turn around to try to get them crisp again with starch? I am shocked to see all the laundry boosters and what not coming on the market to do a load of laundry.Many of the free and clear laundry detergent I can no longer use.I break out in a rash.I never had any trouble with using oils.
      One last tip-the old fashioned brown soap in the laundry section is the best for removing grass stains.My boys played baseball when they were young.I just rub it in the fabric ,throw in the washer and all of it came out.I use Kirk’s hard water soap for cleaning many things.It is the only thing that cleans my wallpaer.

    • Cheryl Eustice says

      Try rubbing in baking soda,let it sit overnight and vaccum off the next day.Since furniture is muti-layered the only solution may be to have it redone or replaced.I follow the baking soda treatment with a cloth wrung out in vinegar.I wouldn’t let it sit in the sun too long.The sun can fade your fabric on the furniture.

  12. Jodie says

    I’ve been making my own cleaning products for some time and one of my biggest challenges has been the lack of scent in washed clothes.
    I am disappointed to read that there’s a reason why essential oils scent doesn’t stay in clothes, but relieved at the same time that I haven’t been doing anything wrong in my recipes! Guess ill just have to live with it. You’ll never ever ever catch me using chemical cleaning products in my house, especially fabric softener!

  13. Curtis H Meyer says

    Glad that the lavender essential oil i ordered on-line this morning is still ok.
    Had me worried.

  14. Monica Layhew says

    I saw a receipe for fabric softner using baking soda.
    Is this not a good combination? Was wondering why you don’t use it?

    • Jodie says

      Hi Monica – I’ve used baking soda in my fabric conditioner before (with vinegar and lavender essential oil) My only issue is that it doesn’t dissolve so you end up with a bottle full of vinegar with a couple of inches of baking soda at the bottom. Of course you can shake it up each time you use it but it fizzes up so much that it gets very messy. I’d love to hear others’ ideas on it!

    • Betsy Jabs says

      We have a fabric softener recipe with baking soda in our book. I just prefer to use the vinegar with essential oils because it’s easier. :)

  15. Gregg C. says

    Tried your recipe for toothpase and it really works great. I think I may do some tweeking on it, probably to increase the peppermint and cut back on the salt a bit. But it works great just the way it is! Thanks!!

  16. Lisa Quenon says

    Hi. I use white vinegar in the rinse cycle (when I remember) and sometimes a few lavender drops. 2 tennis balls in the dryer is all I’ve ever used. Usually works just fine. (I do not care for perfumes, etc., trigger migraines.)

    • Betsy Jabs says

      I’m wary of tennis balls in the dryer because they have a foul smell even when not heated. And underneath that pretty green felt is rubber. Not sure what that heated rubber is giving off…maybe nothing, but I wonder.

      • Sarah says

        Tennis balls have recently been shown to have high levels of lead. They are not recommended for dogs, so I would be very caution about heating them with your clothes.

        • says

          I am always suggesting to people to use of dead tennis balls in place of buying dryer balls. This news does not make me happy, in fact its very sad :(
          Can you provide me a link or article where you read this info. I do not want to use heated lead!!! Thank you.

        • says

          I have been searching to find the tennis ball and lead link….this is what I find….”A particularly startling finding was that almost 50% of tennis balls sold for dogs had lead in them, and that tennis balls designed for dogs had far higher lead content that “normal” tennis balls. Surprisingly, sports tennis balls had no lead at all. Considering how many people buy tennis balls for their dogs and how many dogs like them, this is a very big concern, and one that had me raising my eyebrows when I read it. Found at
          http://avetsguidetolife.blogspot.com/2009/10/lead-in-tennis-balls-and-other-pet.html

  17. Tara says

    I really hate static and this is the only reason I use fabric softener. Aluminum foil didn’t work for me at all. Vinegar works only if I leave the synthetics out of the dryer. Still looking for a natural alternative that works well!

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Have you tried this combination: vinegar in the rinse cycle of the wash, wool dryer balls (about 6 of them), AND a ball of aluminum foil in the dryer? I change my foil ball out every few loads in the cooler months because it seems to stop working after a while.

      • Tara says

        I have tried all three together. Still have the static issue. I really wanted to be impressed with the aluminum but it just didn’t work for me.

        • Michelle says

          You may just be over drying your clothes. Just as our hair gets staticy when it is dry out so do our clothes if they are over-dried. Do you use the auto drying senor or time drying? I have found that when my children (all older at this point) use the time dry option it way over dries out the fabric, which in turn, no matter how much softener or fabric sheets they use, results in static cling and lifeless looking garments. I have the tendency to dry my clothe to “damp dry” and then hang them up. I do not have a static problem with this method. I do use the vinegar in my rinse cycle, and occasionally use the aluminum balls but not always. Hope this is of some help to you.

  18. Aileen says

    Someone might have already mentioned this, but I use tea tree oil in my washer. I have a front loader and it begins to smell and makes all the clothes smell as well. Since doing this, the washer no longer smells and the clothes always just smell fresh (no real aroma…just fresh). I use straight up vinegar as fabric softener and it works fantastic.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      What a great solution for the stinky front-loader issue! Since tea tree has antibacterial and antifungal properties, I’m sure it’s keeping away the mold, mildew, and other gunk that contributes to washer odors. Thanks for sharing Aileen!

    • L says

      How much do you use in your washer?Do you use it only in an empty wash or have you used it while washing clothes as well? If you do the latter, do your clothes smell like tea tree oil afterward? I don’t like the smell of tea tree oil, I find it too musty smelling like some cloth can get, but certainly would like to try it out with some clothes that got horribly musty (but not visibly at least) clothes that were in our wet basement…IF it kills off the real culprit. I prefer to avoid bleach and this sounds like it could be a good alternative.

  19. Kathy says

    I have a top load he washer and use the diy laundry soap 2 coffee scoops for a full load and the white vinegar for a fabric softner 1/4 c is enough.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Thanks for sharing this for all the HE users out there! I’ll have to add this info to the article so it’s not hidden down here in the comments. :)

      • Laura says

        Speaking of HE washers, I have a front loading HE washer and would like to try the powdered homemade laundry detergent but am wondering if I should put it in the drawer for detergent (I’ve only used liquid in it before) or if I should toss it in the drum with the clothes?

        • Betsy Jabs says

          Just add it to a few ounces of water, stir it a little to dissolve, and then add it to your detergent drawer. It should work just fine that way.

  20. says

    To be honest–you don’t really need to use a softener. Clothes are stiff and staticy because of the soap that’s not rinsed out.

    I’ve learned this from handwashing and using a scrub board to wash. I can do a much longer rinse, and when the soap is rinsed out well, even jeans are not stiff on the line.

    Instead of adding more to your laundry—rinse out the soap!! :)

    • Michelle says

      You are so right! Most people just don’t get this concept. I have found that vinegar is what rinses out the left over soap residue on clothes. I have used this method for years and have never had anyone tell me that I smell like vinegar, have you. I have also been one to hang out entire loads from diapers to sheets to towels to blue jeans with out them being stiff. I just love this site and all of the comments that pass through it. More is not always better, right?

  21. Jennifer says

    Found a recipe to make homemade fabric wrinkle release comparable to the Downey product. Calls for 1 cup distilled water and 1 cup fabric softener. Would your homemade recipe for fabric softener work in this other homemade recipe?

  22. Laffayette says

    The aluminum foil ball works like magic. You have to try it just to be ‘dumbfounded’ like we were. Absolutely, zero static!

  23. says

    I steep lemon rinds in white vinegar to use as my surface spray. Do you think I could do the same thing to make a lemon-infused fabric softener?

    • Betsy Jabs says

      I haven’t tried it, but it sounds like it could work. The thing I would be worried about is the fact that you probably can’t control the concentration of lemon that ends up in the vinegar as easily as you can with essential oils. I wonder if the lemon will have a lightening effect on laundry if the concentration is too high? Maybe a great fabric softener for white loads? Don’t know. It may be end up absolutely fabulous. :) Be sure to return and let us know the results if you try it!

  24. AW says

    It’s catching on. I have MCS and my friends are amazed with the less expensive but just as effective, vinegar solution to fabric softeners that send me fleeing the room. I am going to try to make scented vinegar now with herbs and spices (peppermint, or basil, or sage, or vanilla or cloves… :-) to see how this works out.

    Since I can also be sensitive to certain essential oils but still need something to eliminate the extra static cling in the dryer at times, I took the time to make felted, pure woollen dryer balls (directions can be found online). If you are crafty, and don’t mind spending a couple of hours making a bunch (just wool yarn wound into large balls that are felted in pantyhose. I used lengths of left over yarn so there was no extra cost to me, a knitter) they meet the task beautifully! I throw about 3-5 large ones in the dryer. They are not as noisy as the plastic ones that can be purchased and they also continue to soften the clothes. You can put a drop of essential oil on the balls too if you want. I prefer making my own vanilla scent.

  25. Erika says

    I found that using vinegar in the rinse cycle makes my clothes smell like vinegar. I put about a cup of vinegar in the wash cycle and have found that it works just as well without the vinegar smell. :)

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Thanks for sharing here! Although we have never had clothes come out smelling like vinegar, other readers have made the same comment. I wonder if it has to do with a particular type of washer, or the type of water in your house. Don’t know, but thanks for the tip that will help others for sure!

  26. says

    I have enjoyed using the laundry soap recipe from your site. I made a 5 gallon batch of it. It has lasted me a really long (did I mention long) time and it cost me very little. I have used tea tree oil in the detergent, but I think I would like I would like to try peppermint next batch. I’m also excited about trying the wool drier balls. Thank you for making these recipes and suggestions free. Love the new knowledge.

  27. Carol says

    This idea is great. I use it and want to pass it on so I want to get some things straight:
    1. You can use a Downy ball to dispense it.
    2. If your clothes smell like vinegar, use more essential oil or pour the vinegar in during the wash cycle instead of the rinse cycle.

    Is that correct?

    • Betsy Jabs says

      1. Yes, a Downy ball works wonderfully for dispensing.
      2. If your clothes smell like vinegar, try adding vinegar during the wash cycle, but I would not recommend using more essential oils than suggested in the above article.
      Hope you like the results!!!

  28. Amanda says

    I’m still having a lot of trouble with static cling. I’m using the vinegar rinse with a couple of drops of peppermint in it (just cause i like it) and using wool balls in my dryer. The stuff is so staticy it makes my hair stand up just trying to pull it out of the dryer.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Synthetic fabrics will cause static. Hang-drying synthetics will eliminate most of your static. Also, have you tried using the foil ball in the dryer along with your wool balls?

  29. Marie says

    I used Vinegar for my floor washing swiffer tool, and vinegar ate through the mechanism within 6 months. Now I am wondering what vinegar is doing to my washer when I add it to rinse cycle.

    • Sherri says

      Marie, it sounds as though the vinegar reacted to something that was previously in your swiffer tool. Did you have some other ingredient in it before using vinegar? I’ve used vinegar for years and have not had any issues.

    • says

      I agree with Sherri, I’ve used vinegar for years and have not had a problem. I think the vinegar cleans and deoderizes my washing machine. My washer used to have built up gunk from traditional laundry soap and our clothes got “mildewy” within hours … now my washer is sparkling clean on the inside and our clothes never get mildewy if we don’t change the load over right away. Perhaps the swiffer tool is made from inferior materials that degrade easily, like a built in “defect” so you have to buy a new one.

  30. Elizabeth says

    I noticed that there is vinegar with 9% and 5% acidity, will this change the amount of vinegar needed ?

  31. juanita says

    I have an HE washer, can i make a whole batch of fabric softner and store it or will the viniger no be as effective? I would also like to know if the fabric softner can be added to my despenser at the beginning of the wash cycle?

    • Betsy Jabs says

      You don’t have to worry about the vinegar going bad, but you DO have to worry about the essential oils degrading (heat and light will affect them). Keep your pre-mixed fabric softener in a cool, dark place so the essential oils can work at full strength as you use up your full batch of softener. Since each washer is different, you’ll have to read your owner’s manual to see when the best time is to add fabric softener to your machine’s dispenser.

  32. judy says

    Using the white vinegar works great as a fabric softener. I too noticed a faint smell of vinegar after washing. I have a HE washer and just used the extra rinse. No more smell.

  33. tiff says

    Hi. I’m new to homemade cleaners and such. I have a question tho… I love the scent of lavender and vanilla… I can’t afford the vanilla essential oil… can vanilla extract be used instead?

    • Betsy Jabs says

      I would avoid using vanilla extract in your laundry…it can leave a somewhat sticky residue behind, and it has a color that you definitely don’t want on your laundry.

      • tiff says

        Ok, thanku. :) do u have a homemade recipe for an anti itch spray that I can make to keep on hand for my kids? My poor kids are alreeady getting bit. And what about a tea for severe migraines

        • Betsy Jabs says

          Peppermint tea is good for migraines. For anti-itch spray, combine 1/2 cup minus 2 Tbsp. water, 2 Tbsp witch hazel, 20 drops lavender EO, 15 drops eucalyptus EO, and 10 drops chamomile or tea tree EO.

        • Betsy Jabs says

          Cut the essential oils in half if using on kids. Eucalyptus Smithii is safe
          for young kids, but if you can’t get your hands on this, just eliminate
          eucalyptus from the recipe and use lavender, chamomile and/or tea tree.

  34. tiff says

    I have another question. As far as storing my oils. I can’t afford to buy a wood box. I have plastic storage containers with lids. Could I store them in storage container and

  35. tiff says

    Paint it a dark color then line with cardboard and seperate each bottle with cardboard. Would this idea keep shelf life as well as a bought wooden box?

  36. Linda says

    I do not understand how to make the dryer sheets. I see that you cut a sheet from cotton and add an oil but is that all? How does that soften the clothes and reduce the static. Do you need to add the vineger to the rinse cycle and then use the dryer sheet?

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Yes, the dryer sheets are very simple, and are only intended to add a light scent to clothing. It’s the vinegar in the rinse cycle that softens and reduces static. They have to be used in tandem if you want results similar to that of a commercial dryer sheet. Hope this helps!

  37. Sarah says

    So true about becoming desensitized to commercial products! It took my being pregnant to realize that all the smells that were making me sick were the artificial ones. Now that I have gone several months using natural cleaners and personal products, I can really smell the perfumey stuff people wear. Can’t believe I never noticed it before!
    Sarah
    http://Www.marriageisnotforwimps.blogspot.com