Homemade Fabric Softener and DIY Dryer Sheets

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Homemade Fabric Softener Homemade Dryer Sheets

Homemade fabric softener and homemade dryer sheets have no strong chemical perfumes like the store brands. Their light, natural scent is MUCH more inviting.

You’re probably familiar with our homemade laundry detergent, so today let’s learn how to soften laundry (and save money) with natural homemade fabric softener and homemade 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. You can purchase wool dryer balls here; we recommend buying 2 four packs.

If you want to learn WHY we make our own, and why you should too, scroll down to find facts revealing how dangerous chemical perfumes in commercial cleaning products really are.

Homemade Fabric Softener

Vinegar is my homemade 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 sometimes add 1-2 drops of my favorite essential oil to the vinegar in the softener dispenser.

I like to 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:

Homemade Fabric Softener Homemade Dryer Sheets

1 vote


Homemade Fabric Softener Recipe

Yield 1 gallon


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.


Shake well before each use and add during the start of the rinse cycle.

Top-loading washers: use a ½ cup for small or average loads and ⅔ cup for large loads.

For HE washers: use ¼ cup for small or average loads and ⅓ cup for large loads.


Once dry you will not smell this homemade fabric softener. We use the essential oils for their antibacterial properties and to help disinfect laundry. (Lavender, sweet orange, lemon, and peppermint 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 because vinegar is also antibacterial

Homemade Dryer Sheets Are Simple Too

Over the past few years, we have researched many alternatives to commercial dryer sheets. That’s 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. That convinced us commercial dryer sheets are not the best choice for our family. Also, the cost savings of homemade dryer sheets is 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!

Homemade Dryer Sheets

Cut some cotton cloth into small squares. I use 5-inch squares of old cotton t-shirts. Add 3-5 drops of essential oil to your cloth and throw into the dryer with your laundry.

You can use these cotton dryer sheets 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. Some of my personal favorites are lavender, lemon, or grapefruit. (Find pure essential oils here.)

Note: These homemade dryer sheets do not soften laundry they are mainly for adding scent. To soften clothes use the homemade fabric softener recipe above. Another way to soften naturally is to use felted wool balls in the dryer, which also decreases static.

Other Ways to Reduce Static Cling

Want to learn how to get rid of static cling naturally? Here are some additional things you can do to:

  • 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 wool dryer balls 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 testing and enjoying the laundry aromatherapy. But I’m also enjoying the peace of mind knowing that I am not putting chemicals into my family’s laundry! That alone makes homemade fabric softener and homemade dryer sheets worth my time.

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 homemade 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 solutions 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.


References and Resources

Betsy Jabs

About Betsy Jabs

Betsy holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Counseling, and for nearly a decade worked as an elementary counselor. In 2011 she left her counseling career to pursue healthy living. She loves using DIY Natural as a way to educate people to depend on themselves to nourish their bodies and live happier healthier lives. Connect with Betsy on Facebook, Twitter, and her +Betsy Jabs Google profile.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for us to support our website activities, we may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for our endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this website.

DISCLAIMER: Information on DIY Natural™ is not reviewed or endorsed by the FDA and is NOT intended to be substituted for the advice of your health care professional. If you rely solely upon this advice you do so at your own risk. Read full Disclaimer & Disclosure statements here.


  1. 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!

    • Micki Miller says

      I have been using aluminum foil in my dryer for quite a while now. The results are very good.
      In regard to making homemade dryer sheets, I have been told that using essential oils in the dryer does have an effect on the scent and lessens the lovely smell. Does anyone know anything about this?

  2. 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 JabsBetsy 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!

  3. 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?

  4. 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

  5. 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 JabsBetsy 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 JabsBetsy 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 JabsBetsy 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.

        • Cynthia Nicks says

          Peppermint oil mixed with a carrier oil as olive oil put in spray bottle and spray the kiddos before they go out, mosquitos hate the smell. Tea tree oil works too, but a little bit more pricey.
          P.S. if you have a Kroger’s near you you can go down the baking isle and pick up a card with 2 bottles in it for 1.70. 1 bottle is is enough for a small spray bottle.

  6. 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.

  7. 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 JabsBetsy 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.

  8. Elizabeth says

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

  9. 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.

      • Marie says

        Over time, you will find that vinegar will break down the rubber lining on door of your washing machine. Not worth using vinegar! Very expensive to replace.

        • Amanda says

          I have a top loading washer, no rubber lining on the door, and haven’t had any issues from using vinegar. 🤷🏼‍♀️

    • Sharon Vincello 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.

  10. 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 JabsBetsy 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?

  11. 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 JabsBetsy 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!!!

  12. Hannah 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.

  13. 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 JabsBetsy 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!

  14. 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.

  15. Sharon 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 JabsBetsy 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!

  16. Laffayette says

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

  17. 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?

  18. angie 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?

  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 JabsBetsy 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 JabsBetsy 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. 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 JabsBetsy 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.

  21. 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 JabsBetsy 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.

  22. 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 JabsBetsy 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.

        • Angie Ringler 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.

        • Angie Ringler 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

  23. 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!!

  24. 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 JabsBetsy 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. 🙂

  25. Curtis H Meyer says

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

  26. 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!

  27. 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.

    • Kath says

      A few years ago our local hospital, (which has a scent-free policy) had an article talking about the dangers of scented products. They pointed out that people’s olfactory organs are actually affected by many scents, and as a result they end up using more and more in order to smell the scent! I know this is true because decades ago when I was a teenager my friend and I discovered a perfume we loved (I cringe to think of it now!) and after a couple of weeks using it, I’d put it on, smell it for a while, then wonder why I needed to put more on in order to smell it! 🙁

  28. Carrie @ Natural Gumption says

    Love the dryer sheet trick! I hadn’t seen this one before! Thanks 🙂

  29. Amanda says

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


  30. 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 JabsBetsy 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.

    • Angie Ringler 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.

  31. christy 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

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

  32. 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.

  33. 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. 🙂


    • Betsy JabsBetsy 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!

  34. 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.

    • Betsy JabsBetsy 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! 🙂

  35. 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 JabsBetsy 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.

  36. Kari says

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

    • Betsy JabsBetsy 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!

  37. 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 JabsBetsy 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.

    • Betsy JabsBetsy 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.

  38. 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?

  39. JANICE says

    HI! I’m new here and checked out all the questions/answers and couldn’t find anything on hang drying clothes vs. using a dryer. I seldom use a dryer. I would like to know how I can get the same/similar scent that Downey liquid “simple pleasures” vanilla & lavender has. I use it in my rinse cycle. thank you…

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      Hang drying is obviously better for so many reasons! Less energy used, clothes get the benefit of UV rays for brightening/fighting stains, and it’s easier on the fabrics. For a vanilla/lavender scent you could add several drops of lavender and vanilla essential oils to unscented detergent (homemade or store bought), OR mix these essential oils to a jug of vinegar (that will be used exclusively as a fabric softener). About 20-30 drops total in a gallon of vinegar. Keep in mind you’ll never get the same intensity of scent with essential oils that you get with Downy…it will be a much lighter scent. Hope this works for you!

  40. marjorie says

    Hi! I’m new to the natural “alternative” ways but always wanted to take the plunge. Now I am! However, I am wondering something about the dryer sheets you make yourself. Can you cut up old wash clothes and scent them? How many drops of essential oils? Also do you have to scent them every time you put a dryer load in? I may do 2 loads per day. I’m thinking the essential oils will not last very long. : ( I do want the nice scent though so want to try this. One more thing: how long does the aluminum foil ball last or do you change it per load? Aluminum! We tend to stay away from it in other products and here we are putting it in our dryers. Is that safe?

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      Old wash rags would work great for dryer sheets! Check the article for recommendations on amount of essential oils to use, and how often to add more oils.

      Great point about the aluminum…when we’re avoiding it in other products it’s usually because it can leech into things it has direct contact with, like food, skin, etc. I’ll have to mull this one over…not sure if traces of it would remain on clothing and be absorbed into our skin. Hmmm…

  41. Ryan says

    Thanks for posting this! :D. Quick question however about the fabric sheets.. Can I use both a foil/and or tennis ball in the dryer along with the oiled cloth strips at the same time?.. For a light scent/freshness + reduced static?.

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      For sure! It’s kind of like a game when laundry comes out of the dryer and you have to fish out all the little items that were rolling around with your laundry. 😉

  42. Megan says

    I get that the scent of the essential oils will not remain on the clothes after they are washed when the oil is used in the fabric softener. Is this the case with the dryer sheets as well? Just curious.

  43. Jalissa says

    I do have a question though, what if I put vinegar in both the rinse cycle and the.washing cycle, would it end.up making my.clothes smell like vinegar?

  44. Jalissa says

    I don’t see the point of the essential oils if it won’t add a scent but I certainly will try the vinegar method. 🙂

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      I need to update the article to say that most of the essential oils I recommended for the vinegar fabric softener are antibacterial…so that’s a nice benefit. (Also, it’s great aromatherapy in the laundry room for a job that I generally despise doing!) 🙂 However, vinegar is also antibacterial, so you’re fine leaving out the oils. Have fun experimenting with the vinegar!

  45. Shelley says

    I also find vinegar in the rinse gets rid of musty smells. This is esp. helpful if you forget a washed load of clothes in the washer too long and it starts to get a mildew smell. I just run it through the rinse cycle again, adding about 1/2 cup vinegar. When it’s done re-rinsing the mildew smell is gone, and there is no vinegar smell either. We use the plastic dryer balls to fluff and get rid of static in the clothes. BTW, using “regular” fabric softener with towels makes them less absorbent. Using vinegar in the wash helps to soften towels without affecting absorbancy.

  46. Melissa says

    Hi! I’m going to try and make my own dryer sheets, and I’d like to make them vanilla scented. Where can I buy vanilla essential oil at? I’ve never bought essential oil before and I’m not sure where to start. Thanks so much!!

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      If you’re just buying one to start with, I would recommend checking your local health food store in the beauty/personal care section. Congrats on taking the leap and have fun experimenting!

  47. Lisa Quenon says

    I just keep a couple of tennis balls in my dryer for tossing. Might try the vinegar as rinse agent though…keeps residue from building up. I have very severe lung issues which have not quite yet resolved (I say that to insert the positive!!) so I tend to keep as far away from anything scented as possible. I gave up dryer sheets years ago because of cost/smell. I’ve found that purchasing ‘unscented,’ or ‘dye-perfume free’ or ‘all natural’ of anything tends to always cost more so I just left them out and tossed tennis balls in. Seems to work fine! When I do want a room air freshener, just a little vodka with a drop (1 drop) lavendar in a spray bottle tends to do fine. I look forward to my lungs being healed so that essential oils will once again be beautiful for me! Thank you for everything you do! You are marvelous!

  48. Linda says

    Essential oils are flammable, some more than others, but all are flammable to some degree. Isn’t this a fire hazard in the dryer? I once had a fire in my clothes dryer, a terrifying experience unrelated to essential oils. Ever since then, I am very cautious about what goes in the washer and dryer.

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      Oh no, that must have been awful! I have never heard of dryers catching on fire due to essential oils. However, I know fires occur when lint filters are not regularly emptied or dryer vents are clogged. Keep in mind you are only using a few drops of oil in the dryer.

      • Linda says

        The fire was due to thermostat failure. Instead of staying at the selected heat level, it kept getting hotter and hotter.

        I think washer and dryer manufacturers would advise not to use any oils. I know their manuals say not to put any clothing with oil on it into washers or dryers.

  49. Norm says

    I’m going to have a go with home-made fabric softener once my current stock has run out, but I just wanted to mention that I’ve been using an unscented ‘eco’ softener for years, and adding essential oils for the scent. I ~do~ put enough in so that the clothes are lightly scented (we don’t have a dryer) and have never had trouble with spots of oil on the clothes (I don’t use the thicker, resinous oils for this though). It’s a great way of using oils that are perhaps past their therapeutic best, plus we do still get at least some of the therapeutic benefits of the oils even after they’ve been through the washer (uplifting, head clearing, etc – depending on what oils I’ve used).

  50. Holley says

    WOW! Thanks for the super fast reply! I read the info while surfing over many sites… No specific oils were mentioned and I may be taking it to the extreme.. I was just wanting a little reassurance maybe? LOL! Here is one thing I’ve seen “Remember some essential oils are highly flammable”. I’m just not sure which ones are and which one’s aren’t This is from the site http://www.pioneerthinking.com/health/aromatherapy/mg_eos.html

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      Oh, I thought you meant you had read about actual fires caused in dryers due to essential oils. You are correct about some essential oils being more flammable than others. However, they would need a direct ignition source, and hopefully one doesn’t exist inside your dryer drum. 🙂 We’ve been using essential oils in our dryer for years and know others who have been doing the same. (Hopefully that’s of some reassurance to you!) 🙂 Of course, I can’t deny that such a risk exists, so this is one of those things you’ll have to decide if you’re comfortable with.

  51. Holley says

    I just ran across this site while Googling using essential Oils in the dryer. Just a few questions: In my attempts to learn to use the oils most effectively, it seems that I’ve read somewhere that the essential oils could become flammable in the dryer, is this so? Also, does the benefit of the oils remain after they’ve been heated? Thanks so much!

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      Great questions Holley! We have never had a problem with essential oils in the dryer. I’d be interested to read information about them becoming flammable if you remember the source. To my knowledge, this is not the case, but I’ve been wrong before. 🙂 As far as the benefit of the oils remaining after they’ve been heated, the answer is probably not. Using them in the dryer is mostly for lightly scenting laundry in place of commercial dryer sheets.

  52. Deanna says

    I have been making the liquid soap but going to try the dry seems like will be easier. Thanks for all the tips

  53. shana says

    Sorry for the typos. My lil one is wanting ALL of my attention. So im gettin picked at as I write! LOL

  54. shana says

    I JUST bought the ingredients for the Home Made Laundry Detergent, last night! And I am SO VERY excited to begin making my own. After I had my son, who is now 5yrs old; I became very big on making sure I recycle& treat this earth as good as I possibly can for HIM! Our children are the ones who have to live with the destruction we are now causing:(
    While reading thru this page today, I’ve found a TON more useful ideas tips. I’d LOVE to make everything I’ve read about here.
    But I do have a question. 1st my husband absolutely LOVES the nice smell that fabric softener gives. So much so that i use both liquid in a Downy Ball in the Wash&3sheets in the dryer, same load mind you! The cost is so bad it makes me feel guilty!
    So do u have any ideas for an oil or other product that will give him that wonderful(I love it as well) nice strong clean smell?
    Id also like to make my own cleaning products. I too, love a very nice clean smell from my all purpose cleaners.
    One last thing, I promise! I do own swifter wet jets:( I’m sorry, I kno its FULL of chemicals. But I’ve often wondered if I could refill those bottles of spray cleaner that you use with the Wet Jet, with something safer to spray my floors with? And do I really need to buy those expensive pads to attach to the bottom of them? Or can I make any of it at home?
    Thank u SO much for teaching use how to live cleaner, less costly lives:)
    Oh no, one more! My husband is a Coal Miner. I was his uniforms at home. His VERY VERY DIRTY uniforms. I KNOW that oil& grime has to build up inside my washer! Any ideas for how to REALLY clean just your washer?

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      Shana…glad you’re so passionate about doing things yourself! Keep in mind that the “nice strong clean smell” is a chemical scent. Using essential oils in your laundry will not give you that smell…it’s much more subtle, and using too much will make laundry oily. Now that we only use essential oils to scent things in my house, we are very sensitive to chemical smells and actually find them offensive. As far as an alternative, I have not tried them myself, but you could experiment with fragrance oils for laundry and cleaning products.
      For your Swiffer, definitely refill those bottles if you can! (Some companies make them so you CAN’T refill and have to continue spending $ on their product.) Fill with equal parts water and white vinegar! Purchase a package of microfiber cleaning cloths (we bought a package at Sam’s Club for cheap), cut them to fit your Swiffer, and attach. 🙂
      You may want to try scrubbing the inside of your washer with vinegar and baking soda if you can visibly see built up grime. Good luck!

  55. Jane says

    I’ve used a ball of rolled up tin foil in the dryer many times and it works beautifully to keep the laundry static-free.

  56. Nancy says

    On the subject of laundry, I ran across a recipe for homemade spray starch. Used it this morning and it does work. 1 heaping tablespoon of corn starch, 1 pint cold water. Stir until dissolved. Put in spray bottle. Shake before each use.

  57. Aminah says

    could anyone tell me where i should look online for good priced essential oils? i did a quick google search and then decided maybe i should get advice because im seeing a WIDE range in prices and i saw a few forum discussions saying önly expensive oils are good” and idk if these ppl are being snobs, or if there is some real reasoning in it. im not really 100% concerned if they have some chemicals or what not, as long as its not something that is super harmful even in the tiny amounts that this calls for (and wont like catch on fire in the dryer) help pleeeeeeease!

  58. Laci says

    I just recently found your site and love it! I plan to switch to your homemade laundry detergent as soon as my store bought bottle runs out. I would love to switch to this vinegar fabric softener as well but I have a front loader washing machine and I’m concerned that the ingredients in your homemade laundry detergent will react with the vinegar softener and make too much foam or suds for a front loader. Do you know if this would happen or do you think maybe I shouldn’t use these 2 homemade recipes together?

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      I use these two recipes together and it does not create extra suds. In fact, sometimes I wonder how it could possibly get my clothes clean because there is so little suds. You will be safe to use them both (at the same time) in your front loader. 🙂

  59. Michelle says

    Loved this article, so glad I found it! I am just about to start making essential oil products for use around the house, well my oils are supposed to arrive on Monday…I can hardly wait! What I am wondering is…I want static free and scented laundry when it comes out of the dryer, so I thought I would use an old washcloth with a few drops of essential oil on it. Will this soften my clothes or only scent them?

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      It will only scent them. For static free laundry, I recommend vinegar in the rinse cycle of the wash. In the colder months I also throw a ball of aluminum foil in the dryer with my homemade dryer sheet or wool dryer balls…this REALLY helps with the static. 🙂

      • Nancy says

        Foil! Who would have guessed! Have been using the homemade laundry soap for 3 weeks. Found out Zote works better than Ivory. Love the vinegar. I got away from strong perfume smells years ago. Now it causes allergies to act up when exposed. Going to use the foil for static.

  60. colby says

    i make a recipe that i guess is kind of similar to this, mine does use store bought hair conditioners so there is probably harmful chemicals in it but you are using soooo much water i really don’t think it would even slightly harm you.

    1 c. vinegar
    1 c. cheap hair conditioner of your choice (smell has a little part in choice)
    8-10 cups of water

    mix together. thats it.
    i take a sponge and cut the scratchy green side off, dip it in the mixture and really wring it out and throw it into the dryer, this recipe lasts you easily a year (if you do one load a day, if less then longer) but you can also use it like any other fabric softeners (same amount as others) and pour it into your rinse cycle or dispenser spot on the washer.

    I don’t like using essential oils because where i live (utah) its like 15 dollars a bottle and i know a guy that works for young living essential oils, and he can’t even get a discount (he has worked for this company since it pretty much started in utah) maybe i can get it cheaper but im not the person that needs a smell to think they are clean, i really love line dried clothes and if you do that there is almost no smell except natural sun and fresh.

  61. Amanda says

    I have the most sensitive skin and most clothes make my skin feel very irritated and almost feels like it burns.
    I thought that adding more fabric softener to loads of laundry to make the clothes softer but i’m thinking that after reading articles that It might be the fabric softener that’s making it worse. I have tried every laundry soap and fabric softener trying to find 1 that does not irritate my skin. I’m now wanting to try homemade and see if it helps.
    Have you had any results or feedback about whether homemade laundry soap or fabric softener are ok for sensitive skin?
    Thank you.

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      Yes, we’ve had lots of feedback from readers about the homemade formulas working well on their sensitive skin. No harsh chemicals or perfumes to irritate the skin. The recommended amounts for each use are very small, so there’s much less of a chance that any traces will remain on clothes after coming out of the wash.

      The good news? If you purchase the ingredients to make the homemade formulas and you don’t like them, you can always use the ingredients for cleaning around the house! 🙂

  62. Angie says

    Can I put the homemade fabric softener in a downey ball? I live in an apartment complex that has top loader machines.


    • colby says

      don’t see why not, it works like any other fabric softener would, i make a different recipe, which i posted below, and the days im don’t want to get my hands messy i pour it into my dauny ball

  63. Victoria says

    Hi, my question is. I love snuggle blue sparkle fabric softener. When I run out, iam going to white vinegar. Can I add that in as my oil?, or do you know an oil that would have that smell? Thanks

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      Victoria, since I’ve never used Snuggle Blue Sparkle, could you describe what it smells like? Maybe I could come up with an essential oil combination that would come close. 🙂

      • colby says

        funny, i just googled it to see what kind of scent it has but it doesn’t even have a description just blue sparkle.

        • Jennifer says

          I’d love to know the answer to this too. I want to give up having to buy snuggles but depend on that scent. LOL Its my comfort “food” of laundry.

  64. Kenny E says

    Ok. I just made my first batch of homeade laundry detergent, and it seems to clean pretty good, but I had trouble with it on some blood spots on a pillow case and had to apply some Dawn and pre soak for a while with it to get it clean. I added lavender E/O to the detergent and it does leave a nice, clean scent to the clothes. Now my complaint about the vinegar. Everybody CLAIMS that vinegar works great as a fabric softener. I disagree!
    My towels come out of the dryer feeling much rougher and stiffer than when I use commercial fabric softener. I know I’m not “doing it wrong” as any idiot can pour a 1/2 cup of vinegar into the softener dispenser. So please, an HONEST opinion??? Are you honestly getting comparable “softness” using vinegar instead? Because I am not and it seriously seems more like I’m wasting a half cup of vinegar. I have not tested a load without it as of yet to compare that way. But I intend to if your answers are positive for the vinegar.

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      Keep in mind that pre-treating stains is still necessary with the laundry detergent…like commercial detergents, the homemade variety won’t get ALL the tough spots out of your laundry. I usually sprinkle a little powdered detergent on stains and rub with a wet toothbrush that is designated only for laundry. 🙂
      As for the vinegar softener, it won’t work exactly like commercial softeners because it’s not coating your garments with conditioners. Laundry comes out soft enough for me, but everyone’s preferences are different. Some other factors that might be different here…we have soft city water where I live, and I use wool dryer balls that fluff my laundry. Try a load without and see if you like it better. 🙂

    • colby says

      i love vinegar in mine, it does a lot better then any store bought. vinegar strips the detergent from the cloths, i use a slightly different recipe for my softener which i will post for you.
      1 c. vinegar
      1 c. cheap hair conditioner of your choice (smell has a little part in choice)
      8-10 cups of water

      mix together. thats it.
      i take a sponge and cut the scratchy green side off, dip it in the mixture and really wring it out and throw it into the dryer, this recipe lasts you easily a year (if you do one load a day, if less then longer) but you can also use it like any other fabric softeners (same amount as others) and pour it into your rinse cycle or dispenser spot on the washer.

  65. zoei's mom says

    What do you suggest to clean blue jeans that are HEAVILY soiled with grease, machine shop grime and dirt?

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      Several steps, because grease is a tough one. Try blotting up any excess grease with paper towel until no more grease comes up. Then sprinkle cornstarch or baby powder on spots, allow to sit overnight, and brush powder off gently. Put a few drops of dishwashing liquid onto grease stains, add a few drops of water, and scrub the area with a small brush until stains break up. Launder as usual. I’m sure you already know this, but don’t wash the heavily soiled jeans with other garments and hang dry only. Putting them in the dryer will set the stains. Sounds like a tough job…good luck!

    • colby says

      a trick my aunt told me about, my uncle used to work in the coal mine and he would come home extremely dirty, oily, and covered in coal dust, now first this has to be done in a non HE washer, if you put this in a front loader it WILL ruin it and void the warranty (i know other people have used this, not by my direction, and have had issues with their washer)
      so in order to get his cloths clean she would wash his cloths using dawn, she put 1/4 of a cup to 1/2 a cup per load and ran it on cold or warm, use dawn though, its one of the best degreasers out their, now that she uses a public washing machine she uses an industrial grease cleaner (doesn’t want to ruin their machine) which works really well,

      You can also wash the cloths in the sink using the same measurements if your worried about your washer,

  66. Grasiela says

    I was just wondering about the vinegar being used as fabric softner. If you don’t use the oils, will your clothes smell like vinegar? I want to use this but don’t want to smell like vinegar.

  67. Ilene says

    I put 1/2 cup vinegar in my fabric softener cup in the washer, then add water to fill the cup, & add a few drops of oil to that.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      You’re not doing anything wrong Ilene. 🙂 You really shouldn’t be able to smell the oils after laundry comes out of the washer…increasing the amount of oil in the wash might result in oily build-up on your clothes. (I didn’t make this really clear in the article, but using oils in the wash is mainly for cleaning benefits & a little aromatherapy while starting the wash.) In order to have scented laundry, use essential oils in the dryer. Either by placing a few drops on a homemade dryer sheet or on wool dryer balls. Clothing will be very LIGHTLY scented after using oils in the dryer.

  68. Ilene says

    I have tried the homemade laundry soap & vinegar as a fabric softener with success. I’ve been using essential oils (lavender or orange & lemon) but I really can’t smell anything after they have gone through the dryer. I’ve upped the amount of essential oil, but I think it’s alot more than you’ve recommended & I still don’t notice the scent on the clothes. What am I doing wrong?

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      There are lots of different opinions out there about using essential oils with infants. Some oils that I have read should be very safe for babies are lavender, geranium, rose, and chamomile. However, I don’t have kids, and so I would recommend doing your own research on which oils are safe for babies and making your choice based on this. Arm yourself with as much information as possible to keep your baby’s sensitive skin safe! Good luck!

  69. Maddie says

    Where do you get the “essential oils” from and don’t they leave spots or stains on the clothes?

    • Erin says

      I buy all of my essential oils from Puritans Pride online. It’s great b/c they are always offering great deals like buy 1 get 2 free.

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      If it’s white vinegar designated specifically for laundry then you shouldn’t have any problems storing it in the laundry room…that’s where I store mine. I store my other types of cooking vinegar in cool, dark cupboards to extend shelf life & preserve the flavor, but my gallon jugs of white vinegar only get used for cleaning and laundry so I’m not as careful w/ these. (I have read conflicting things on shelf life of white vinegar, ranging anywhere from 6 months after opening to indefinite.)

  70. SannyPan says

    I have a front-load washer that uses very little water. I am concerned that the vinegar might cause spots on the clothes or fade out the colors, since it won’t be diluted very much before it hits the clothes. Anyone have experience with this?

    • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

      We don’t have a HE front-loading washer, but based on our research & feedback from readers, using vinegar is completely safe. It is actually recommended for use if you want to brighten colors in the laundry, so I wouldn’t worry about the fading.

      • Michelle says

        I simply love this site!!! I have been using vinegar for several different things, and totally swear by it’s ability to rinse unwanted residue from clothing and dishes, a super great window cleaner, and believe it or not as a hair rinse. I am one of 7 girls and my dear mother once a week would rinse our hair in a sink of diluted vinegar to ward off lice infestation. It works by releasing the “glue” that bind the nits to your hair shafts.
        As far as using it with cloth diapers, my children are in their late twenties and thirties, they were quite sensitive to soaps and softeners so I only used cloth diapers on them. The vinegar help to remove the soap and chemicals from them wonderfully. I never used softeners on them even if I had to dry them in the dryer. Mostly I hung my laundry outside to dry.
        Again I love this site, I check it several times a day to see who has posted something new for me to see. Keep up the great job and God Bless.

  71. Brigett Holmes says

    Hey, I just recently found your website and love it! I’ve already made your laundry detergent and love it! I’ve used vinegar before in my rinse cycle, but never thought to add essential oils-will definitely be trying this! I was just wondering you’ve found was the best solution to static. When the weather starts getting cooler we-my husband especially- gets horrible static. He goes through several bottles of static guard each winter-I’m sure I don’t want to know what all chemicals are in that! Any suggestions???

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Any way you can replace the moisture into the air in your home will improve the static. Running a humidifier, growing plants, etc. The vinegar in the rinse cycle should remedy some of the static in your laundry, but there are other things you can do if it’s extreme in your house. Putting on lotion before getting dressed will also decrease static. I always rub lots of lotion on my hands before folding laundry in the colder months. Natural fabrics won’t get static…so try washing natural fabrics & synthetic fabrics separately, or hang dry your synthetic fabrics. Allowing them to air dry should almost eliminate any static. I also read somewhere that pinning a small safety pin on an inside seam of pants, skirts, or the top of a sock can reduce static. Haven’t tried it, but I’d be interested to see if it worked!

      • Doddie says

        Hi Betsy, Vinegar and water sets the color in a new or dyed fabric if done before washing it. It also set a new hair color treatment when used as a finishing rinse to makes the color last longer. My question is does the vinegar rinse in washer set grease spots ? And as far as reducing static in clothes, if you ever run into an emergency situation get a wire hanger and rub it over your clothes. If the synthetics are not allowed to completely dry and you hang them up, you will not have bad static. I love your site and everything you said above I do agree with. I will have to try the safety pin thing ! It may even work in the dryer to reduce static.

        • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

          Great information Dottie! As far as grease spots go, I would definitely pre-treat them, but vinegar is actually a great degreaser when used in laundry.

      • Kristee Ravan says

        I’ve used a safety pin ito prevent static n my skirts that have linings for several years. It works!

    • Nina says

      I read somewhere that you could place a balled up piece of aluminum foil in your dryer and that would eliminate the static.
      Anyone else hear of this?

  72. Betsy Jabs says

    Hmmm…haven’t tried it. Never saw anything on the web about using salt during my “research” phase on natural fabric softeners either.

  73. Diane says

    I am curious about salt as a fabric softner…anyone tried it? Not sure it will help with soap residue like the vinegar.

  74. Stefanie says

    So…I love this article, because we have a one year old at home and I’ve been strict about using the free and clear laundry products.
    We are using Bounty Free and Clear dryer sheets right now and my question is…do I need to be concerned about these dryer sheets? Do they leave the same chemical “coating” on my clothes while drying?

    Also…I LOVE the suggestions about adding vinegar and essential oil to my washing load, but I rarely ever make it to the laundry room in time for the rinse cycle. Any other suggestions on how to use this mixture without needing to listening for the cycles to change?


    • Betsy Jabs says

      Stefanie–I don’t have personal experience with the Bounty line of products you are referring to, but the scary thing is that most dryer sheet brands won’t even list ingredients on the packaging. This alone worries me. I hate guessing what companies deem “safe” for us.

      When using vinegar in the rinse cycle, the easiest way is to pour it in your fabric softener dispenser or bleach dispenser if your washing machine has one. If you don’t have this feature on your washer you can add the vinegar at the same time as your regular laundry soap and it will still soften the laundry and add to the cleaning power. The only thing you’ll be missing out on is the ability of the vinegar to remove soap residue during the rinse cycle and soften a little more.

      • Celia Irby says

        also you can use a downy softener ball that goes in the washing machine it will release the viniger in the rinse cycle every time just like it would the downy softener I have to done this over the years because I can never make it downstairs to the machine at rinse cycle, either

        • Betsy Jabs says

          Thanks Celia! I had totally forgotten that I used this method when I owned a washer without the built-in compartments. I love my diy readers!!!

      • Rochelle says

        I’m wondering if by using vinegar in your laundry that over time your clothes will start to tear sooner etc. I know that with bleach (esp in whites) this happens (over time, not one or two washes).

        • Betsy JabsBetsy Jabs says

          We’ve been using vinegar as fabric softener (in EVERY load) for a few years now and haven’t had this problem. It’s been very gentle on our clothing.

  75. Vicki says

    Hi Matt and Betsy: I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and have made dishwasher detergent using another recipe involving baking soda rather than washing soda and lemon Kool-Aid for the citric acid (way cheaper!). I’m getting a residue but probably need to add more Kool-Aid due to our hard water out here in the country. Looking forward to trying the vinegar fabric softener…think I’ll go make up a batch right now. I think you’ve unleashed the mad scientist in me!

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Way to go Vicki! As with any of these recipes, you will have to keep tweaking to figure out what works for your specific appliance. In addition to trying more Kool-Aid, you can try decreasing or increasing the amount of detergent you use for dish loads until you notice a positive difference. Good luck!

    • Celia Irby says

      try putting viniger in the rinse, also I found a recipe and had to increase the amount from 1 TBS to 1 1/2 TBS because my water is a little hard

  76. Becky says

    I have a cat and have heard that essential oils are toxic to them, however I would like my laundry to have a nice fragrance. Do you think the amount of oil left on the laundry after washing would be significant?

    • Betsy Jabs says

      No…using essential oils in the amounts we recommend only leaves the slightest scent on your laundry. Keep your pet safe by keeping essential oil containers sealed tightly & storing where pets can not get into them. (It’s probably concentrated, large amounts that are harmful to pets.)

  77. Whitney says

    Hi! I read a review once that has caused me to steer clear of using vinegar as a fabric softener: someone said it rusted their machine! I know, stainless steel isn’t SUPPOSED to rust, but I’ve seen it happen. Can you comment?

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Vinegar does not cause rust in washing machines, and can actually help remove rust naturally on some materials. Washing machine drums are either made out of stainless steel or porcelain, and have a protective rust-proof coating that can wear away with time. All it takes is water and oxygen for a machine to rust after the protective coating has worn off. Don’t let the one negative review hinder you from trying this! 🙂

      • Whitney says

        Good to know! You’ve increased my confidence enough that I think I’ll try it in my new machine. Thanks.

  78. Stacia says

    I use wool dryer balls that you can either make yourself or if you are lazy like me buy them on etsy. Tons of people sell them and they are good for life! You can scent those with oils and they do not stain your clothes. They even cut down on the drying time. I’ve been using them since the beginning of the year and I’ll never go back to dryer sheets. We probably do about 6 or 7 loads of laundry a week.

    • Matt Jabs says

      We’re working with a company to put together a “DiyNatural Essential Oils” package to make it easier to put all these solutions into place. When our ebook comes out, the oils package will be ready. For now, I advise you to use RainbowMeadow.com.

    • Celia Irby says

      I always by my oils at Mothernature.com and if you go through the http://www.shopathome.com you get 8%cash back on your order plus they always have coupon codes for free goodies. Of course you have to register at the [email protected] website, everytime your account reaches $20.00 in cash back they mail you a check

  79. Elin says

    I made a bunch of wool dryer balls (a simple and fun project with lots of tutorials online) and I drip the essential oils on them instead of a cloth. I haven’t noticed any staining from the oils and I’ve been doing this a long time. Good idea about premixing the vinegar for the washing machine. I can also be found holding a glass bottle over the machine, mad science-like.