Thursday, September 20, 2012

Homemade Fabric Softener

Today I want to share a easy recipe for Homemade Fabric Softener.  This is another wonderful Pinterest idea, so I was so excited when I found it. If there's on thing I hate buying it's Fabric Softener. I love the scent it leaves on my clothes, but a good brand can be quite pricey.

I love making homemade cleaners, because they're so economical and they really do work. This recipe requires only three ingredients, hair conditioner, white vinegar and hot water.
For (1) gallon of homemade fabric softener it cost me $2.82. Pretty cheap if you ask me. How does it work you ask?

Well, I found that the homemade version doesn't leave a fresh scent like store bought fabric softeners. It definitely does the job and my clothes come out soft, but I do miss that wonderful fabric softener smell.  

I still plan on using the homemade version, just not all the time. I'm going to use it on whites, t-shirts, undergarments and towels, because this is where it made a huge difference.

My towels no longer have that musty smell they get even after they have been washed and dried.

This recipe is definitely a solution to that problem. 
So, from here on out I will be using the homemade version on whites and towels and saving the store bought softener for the rest of our clothes. This recipe is a keeper in my book. 

I have included a few step by step photos, so you can see how easy it is to make homemade fabric softener. Also one last note.
If you're worried about the vinegar smell don't be, because by the time your clothes are dry the vinegar smell is gone. 
In large (microwave safe) bowl, mix the vinegar and hair conditioner together (it will look a bit clumpy). Place the whole bowl in the microwave and heat for a minute or two.

This will ensure the ingredients will blend together more easily. Remove from microwave and stir. (I used a whisk). Add hot water and mix to make sure everything is blended. Pour mixture into a one gallon container and store in laundry room.

Homemade Fabric Softener


6 - cups Hot Water
3 - cups White Distilled Vinegar
2 - cups Hair Conditioner (any brand)
1 - Empty Gallon Container

In large (microwave safe) bowl, mix the vinegar and hair conditioner together (it will look a bit clumpy).

Place the whole bowl in the microwave and heat for a minute or two. This will ensure the ingredients will blend together more easily. Remove from microwave and stir. (I used a whisk).

Add hot water and mix to make sure everything is blended. Pour mixture into a one gallon container and store in laundry room.

Use the same amount you normally use in a rinse cycle (approx 1/2 cup).

Note: Add to fabric dispenser department, downy ball or directly in the second rinse cycle. Before each use give the bottle a good shake to mix it up.

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Anonymous said... #

I actually found this several days ago on another blog and I tried it with a 15 oz. bottle of Suave conditioner. The only difference I made was to omit half the water (I used only 3 c. of water vs. the 6 c. it calls for). The fabric softener dispenser in my washer is very small--I think it's made for the ultra-concentrate softener. It does work really well! You're right about the scent though--there's no vinegar scent at all, but the clothes smell nothing like the conditioner I used. On a positive note, I use Tide detergent, so the clothes smell like that instead. Not a bad thing!

Anonymous said... #

So excited to see someone else trying to cut cash on fabric softener. I too was on that quest. Check out what we do now. So I buy a bottle of my fav softeners with coupons of course. A large spray bottle and fill the bottom of the bottle about an inch high with softened the rest of the way with water shake. So before adding my clothes to the dryer i spray about 10 sprays to the dryer. You get the scent and static relief without washing it out. Goodluck

Anonymous said... #

What if you used a few drops of essential oils in the homemade fabric softener?

Tina Butler said... #

Thats a good idea. I really love how it cleans and deoderizes the towels and whites. It's great at removing soap residue and persperation stains. I had a real issue with the towels smelling moldy and yucky, so this really took care of that problem.

Tina Butler said... #

I was reading that you could add essential oils to the mix if you wanted. I didn't want to do that since I have a family member that has sensitive skin. I'm not sure how much you would add, but if memory serves me correct it was a couple drops.

Anonymous said... #

can you add some essential oils to it to give it a good sent?

Leslie said... #

Gotta love Pinterest! What a great money saving idea!

Kristy Tyrney said... #

You could try some Lavender Essential oil? it is usually good for the skin. For someone very sensitive another option may be a few drops of Tea Tree Oil.
My cousin makes this and loves it.

Axelle the french cook said... #

This is a very good idea. In france, too, we try as often as we can, to create different products.

Michelle said... #

I have been using this for about 6 months now. My husband is sensitive to smells. This makes the clothes soft and the smell is mild. He loves it.

Anonymous said... #

Instead of heating in the microwave couldn't just mix it together in your blender. I'm all about short cuts as well. Love your idea. Wanda. Ca.

Anonymous said... #

This sounds great!! I plan to make some today !! IF you use distilled water the product will not seperate and u will not have to shake it eveytime u use it!!! Than
x for the great recipe!

Mary said... #

to honestly get the moldy musty smell out .. add 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup white vinager with your laundry det. and it will be out .. Here is how to test it. take your clean towel or wash cloth now. wet it .. do you still smell the moldy smell? wash it with the soda/vinager combo then dry. wet it and smell it. the odor will be gone. It also works to get the cleaning rags pet blankets and beds ... and the mildew out of clothes that you can't wash in Hot water or add bleach too.

Tina Butler said... #

I just find it easier to have it all mixed together, so I can just add it to my whites.

It helps my regular fabric softener last longer by just using the homemade version for whites an towels and the regular softener on everything else.

kt said... #

I'll give this a try but i read for a strong scent you must add an essential oil or extra conditioner.

Tina Butler said... #

That is correct if you want a strong scent you do need to add some essential oils. I can't use that with my daughters sensivity. I love it just how it is for whites, undergarments and towels. I use regular fabric softener on the rest of my clothes.

Viv said... #

Why is this used on whites and towels only? Can I use it on colored clothes too?

Tina Butler said... #

Viv you must of not read the entire post. I was stating that the homemade fabric sofener does not have the distinct smell like store bought fabric softeners, so I use it only on whites and towels. It can be used on colors as well. I just like my clothes to have a bold scent on them. It does wonders for whites and towels though.

Bobbie//Rebelle said... #

Hello Tina :)
I hope you will stop by and see that I featured on my blog this morning! I adore your blog!

Tricia Buice said... #

Fascinating! I'm still enjoying the microwave popcorn in the brown paper bag - you're always posting great ideas. Love it!

Anonymous said... #

Also try adding about 1/3 water to your real Downy to make it last longer. It still smells the same and lasts longer. Personally the smells give me a headache because they are all chemical so I use vinegar or an old washrag with essential oils. Great tip!

Judy said... #

I found this recipe on another blog and made it recently. I used Suave lavendar & lilac conditioner. It doesn't leave a strong smell but I'm happy about that because I don't want to go out smelling like detergent or fabric softener. I also didn't heat the solution before mixing. A wire whisk did the job just fine on its own.

Anonymous said... #

My mom and I bought the ingredients for this and made 3 batches of the "concentrated" version where we used 1/2 of the water in the recipe. We are both tickled with the outcome of the fabric softener and most of all, the price! You've got to try this!

Anonymous said... #

My Mom and I made a triple batch of the concentrated version a couple weeks ago (to a grand total of $7.49). We have both been using it ever since and are tickled with the results! I have to admit that I was skeptical, but it has been wonderful! If you are still wanting the good smell added to your clothes, I have been adding a dryer sheet and that seems to make a big difference. Plus it doesn't hurt to have a little extra softener, although IMHO I don't find the dryer sheets to be good for anything other than for good smells! Give this a try, you will NOT be disappointed! Kristin T.

Anonymous said... #

Thanks for this recipe!! I just started making the homemade laundry soap which I love (& I love the savings!!) This works great! I do like it to have a little more scent so I think I might get the essentials oil & try adding a few drops to the batch!! I hope everyone gives this a try- it's so great!!

Valerie said... #

If you use essential oils add only one or two drops to the whole recipe. Also you shouldn't use it if you have someone with sensitive skin. Remember that EO are never used as perfume or body scents without a carrier oil..

Laurie said... #

Great recipe! I added a few drops of lavender essential oil, that was all it took to really give it a nice scent. If you like Downy or some other scent out there, you could always add a bit of actual Downy into your homemade batch to introduce a bit of that scent. ALSO: I added several squirts of laundry bluing. This turned the batch blue like "real" fabric softener, and also the bluing acts as a brightening agent, which is why it's used in the store-bought varieties.

Mary Atkinson said... #

I have made my own fabric softener with this recipe, not allergic reactions, itchy or rashes on the skin/ I love it/.
I also make my own laundry soap and one batch lasts me 18-24 mths. We also use these types of recipes with vinegar for all of the household cleaning, the house is cleaner and no residue. Can't ask for more, and no chemicals/

Designed Decor said... #

I love the recipe, but wanted to share you should never add softener to your towels. The softener breaks down the absorbancy of the towels.
I will be making this recipe!


Anonymous said... #

I don't understand why put hair conditioner if it doesn't leave a scent, what dose the conditioner do?

Tina Butler said... #

The conditioner is added along with the vinegar as softening agent.

Natalie said... #

Are these recipes ok to use in an HE washer?


Tina Butler said... #

would need to look in your owners manual for that information. I'm sorry I just don't know. Maybe if you go through the comments you might find a answer to that question as well.

Anonymous said... #

I tried this during the weekend and added 1/2 cup of Downy just for the scent, and it turned out SO FABULOUS! The clothes smelled clean and fresh, with just a hint of Downy. And what impressed me most was that the towels were softer than when we used the store-bought fabric softener. My hubby and I totally LOVE it. I plan on making more of this from now on. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR SHARING THIS RECIPE!

Anonymous said... #

Yes you can use in an H.E. washer! I have been doing this fabric Softener for a few months now! Clothes come out wonderful!

Anonymous said... #

The vinegar is such the key ingredient here. It pulls out the residue soap from the items in the wash. Now that being said, anyone with allergies would benefit from just plain distilled vinegar in the rinse cycle. There is no odor once dried and as I said it removes the residue from the detergent used. Good for anyone with skin disorders.

sheywillow said... #

For those that want the Gain or Downy scent,you can buy very concentrated fragrance oil and add it to your homemade fabric softener. Etsy and Ebay sell the oils and it works great! Plus I love the idea of saving pennies where I can. Thanks for posting this recipe.

Unknown said... #

Why is the vinegar smell so strong ?

Tina Butler said... #

Because the vinegar is a key ingredient. It's also a natural softener. You will smell the vinegar no matter what. It pulls out the soap residue from clothes. If you don't like vinegar or the smell of vinegar, this might not be the softener for you.

Anonymous said... #

Making my own laundry detergent, easy, no cook , works great. Fabric softener another story. Made a batch, works great BUT, separates really bad and leaves residue in my he machine dispenser. Any suggestions and can I tweak the recipe a little to cut Down on vinegar? I did not use any essential oils as I did not have any at the time. Heavy scent not an issue right now. Just trying to get laundry soft and static free which this softener does do.

Joansy said... #

How is it for clothes that are clothes line dried? I rarely use the clothes dryer especially during the warm months.
Also, I've learned to soak a heavy washcloth in fabric softener (any kind), wring out, air dry (will make your laundry room smell nice as it dries), then throw in dryer. You will get up to 10 loads with this one wash cloth.

Anonymous said... #

I don't even do that. I put it all in a gallon jug and shake well. Just use hot tap water. I give it a shake before I use it too. Works great! In fact, I just folded some towels--they are very soft and not waxy feeling (some softeners cause such a build up).

Anonymous said... #

I look forward to trying this .My towels had the same awful smell, Istarted adding a cup of white vinegar to my machine with the detergent,. My towels smell so much better now! Give it a try

Anonymous said... #

I too miss the smell goods with the homemade fabric softners si I afded a dryer bar and wa-la...smell goods ate back :)

Unknown said... #

I am wondering what it will do the high tech washing machines these days.Could it ruin the machiner in any way?

Anonymous said... #

This doesnt make my clothes soft. I hang my clothes to dry. Are all of you using a dryer? The store bought softener makes my clothes soft when I hang them. This does not.

Unknown said... #

You could add a few drops of pure lavender, vanilla or some other fragrance to enhance the smell.

Anonymous said... #

I am new to all this, but want to learn. I have come up with a recipe that is a mixture of all I have read on this blog, and am going to try it out.
6 C hot distilled water (so I don't have to remember to shake every time),
3 C distilled white vinegar,
2 C hair conditioner,
3-5 drops of lavender essential oils
several squirts of laundry bluing.
Wish me luck,
Judy P - California

Anonymous said... #

What would be the solution if I have used fabric softener with my towels to bring back the absorbency?

Anonymous said... #

I've added scented warmer oil to get the scent I want. Doesn't stain clothes. If I need more scent add a bit to a rag and dry along with the clothes.

Anonymous said... #

If you don't like adding it to your wash or don't have a dispenser, you can soak a cloth, sponge or wash rag in the solution and use it in the dryer. I never purchase dryer sheets anymore!

Anonymous said... #

So since i love gain, can i just add a little to the solution made?

Anonymous said... #

I ran out of sheets found this recipe but only had cider vinegar so instead I used lime juice toy can also use lemon juice works great way cheaper and easy to make works great with my homemade laundry soap love it

Anonymous said... #

If u like use 2c fabric softener of your choice to 4c water store in a wide mouth container and place sponges in there and use the sponges as fabric sheets and it will last up to 6 months all u have to do is replenish it as needed works just as good and u still get your gain scent

c_lengyel said... #

I wonder if you melted some of those fragrance beads into the softener if it would make it smell like the store bought stuff?

Tina Butler said... #

I think using an essential oil would be better.

Terry said... #

Quality essential oils should not bother sensitive skin, but rather be healing elements. 3 of us in my family have sensitive skin and I've used essential oils (including in the laundry) for years.

Anonymous said... #

Hi! I found this site searching for a recipe to replace the discontinued Bounce dryer bars. I still have the empty plastic things that attach to the inside of the dryer and was hoping I could mold new bars to them. Do you suppose there is anything you could add to this liquid recipe to make it form a bar instead? Thanks!

Anonymous said... #

I love this, I've been making this for six months now, my clothes are getting so much cleaner without the soap residue, and I use VO5, 86cents a bottle. Having fun with the different scents. On a side note, I ran out of hair conditioner while showering, used this instead, WOW, the vinegar in the conditioner took the shampoo build-up out, my hair was so much shinier.

Tina Butler said... #

Vinegar is a great rinse agent for hair. I use plain apple cider vinegar once a week on my hair.

Mommie1ST said... #

This is great. Just made homemade laundry detergent and I am going to make this next. I used the beads you throw into the dryer for sent in my detergent and will be adding those same beads to my softener so that the scent is the same and will be layered and last longer.

well and fit said... #

No reason it wouldn't be suitable. HE machines typically use less water so you might use less product. My problem with my new dryer is MAJOR static.

well and fit said... #

The only differance in the HE machines is the water usage so you might use less product.