Friday, July 19, 2013

DIY 100% Natural Laundry Fabric Softener

Make our own Fabric Softener. This WORKS! #DIYIn my quest for chemical free cleanliness, I started browsing the internet for ideas about fabric softener and I was bombarded by this recipe that is based on mixing vinegar with hair products. I'm sorry, but ew. Gross.

Do you know what's in most shampoos? It pretty much defeats the "natural" part of green living.

It seemed like everyone else used just vinegar and essential oils which is fine, but a little boring. I thought that there could be something more! That's when I stumbled across a post from An Organic Wife where she uses alcohol in her recipe. Cha-ching! Thank you very much!

It's brilliant because alcohol has been used by a lot of people to help remove stains, plus it is a disinfectant!! It makes so much sense to put it in your laundry!

However, she also added dried herbs, but I am going to skip. But essential oils-- heck, yeah! She used lavender, which has calming properties, but also acts as to clean clothes. But don't feel like that's your only option! There are so many essential oils that have great cleaning properties: Lavender, Tea Tree, Peppermint, Spearmint, Thieves Purification... this list goes on! Personally, I love Tea Tree. I think it's the best single ingredient in the essential oil world for making sure your clothes stay clean and sanitary!

What You Need
  • 3 c White Vinegar
  • 1/4 c Rubbing Alcohol (or vodka)
  • 20 drops of Essential Oil (such as Tea Tree, Purification, or Thieves)- I recommend this brand
This is easy! Simply put the ingredients into a glass jar, shake it up and you're ready to go! Just add ½-¾ cup to your fabric softener dispenser in you washing machine the next time you do a load.
That's so easy right?

The biggest thing that I've noticed is that the clothes do seem more fresh when I use this product. It definitely has helped my laundry hold the scent of my dryer balls with even big loads like my blankets! And guess what? No static cling!

If you'd like to join my Natural Living Support Group on Facebook please fill out this form!

It's so easy to make your own fabric softener and it really works, too!

Wanna Go All Natural For Your Laundry?  

DIY Detergent (No Borax)
Laundry Spot Remover
Dryer Balls
Soap Nuts

And a bonus read: 7 Dangerous Chemicals Lurking In Your Laundry
If you try this out, please let me know what you think! Also, if you use something different, I'd love to hear about it!

Happy cleaning!

Citrus essential oils can cause bleaching-- use with caution! If you want to learn more about DIY cleaning join my Natural Living Support Group on Facebook please fill out this form!

43 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Debra, I have a cup that fits in my washer which I fill up and it ends up being around 1/2 c per small/med load and about 3/4 c per large load :)

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  2. This is the best softener I've used. I've tried a lot of them too! Thanks for sharing!!!

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    1. Thanks Megan! I'm so happy that you like it, too! :)

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  3. Hi! I too have been looking for a natural fabric softener. Does the rubbing alcohol wear the color of the clothes out?

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    1. Good question! I've been using it for quite a while and I haven't noticed any fading or discoloration of my clothes at all. Thanks for the question :)

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  4. Does this keep static cling away? I live in Colorado where fabric softener is a necessity for getting rid of static cling!

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    1. To be fair-- we started using the dryer balls first and they completely eliminated static cling here in Florida. I can't speak for the softener in relation to static cling. I can do a few experiments when I do laundry and let you know. Sorry, I can't be of more help than that!

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  5. I can't find white distilled vinegar, I have only white vinegar and it smells pretty bad :( do you think it would work?

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    1. Madeleine, you've got a good eye! Er, nose. {wink} and this is actually a fabulous question!

      White vinegar is different from distilled white vinegar-- it has a higher acid content. Distilled is around 6% and White is around 15%, I believe, although it may be a little higher. However, some companies who make distilled vinegar just label it as white so it gets very confusing. On your bottle, it should say how diluted your vinegar is. If it's between 5-8% you're good OR if it's higher and you're willing to do a little math you could dilute your white vinegar to the 5-8% range, then it'd basically be distilled vinegar!

      The vinegar itself does have a bit of a smell initially, but it goes away completely once you have washed the clothing. In fact, it leaves zero odor on the clothes-- everything is scentless! It's purty nice.

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  6. I TOTALLY LOVE this fabric softener! Combined with your DIY detergent, our clothes come out smelling super-duper fresh & clean...none of that overkill perfume. To attest to the awesomeness of these DIY items I have to tell you that my husband is a total ERA guy...thinks if you put 3 cups in that your clothes come out clean (we have a dairy/crop operation so you can imagine the dirt & doo-doo). I've tried other DIY detergents (the liquid....ummmm, lets just say...YUCK!) to no avail. Then I came across your little site and I thought what the hay...its cheap enough to make so why not. Our clothes are CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN - with no fading. My husband even remarks on how "clean" his work clothes feel :) I recently ran out of the fabric softener and didn't want to take the 5 seconds to make another batch before putting another load in - living in MI and having an extremely harsh winter for cold & dryness, I immediately noticed a difference in taking things out of the dryer...super electrifying! So it DEFINATELY works on eliminating that static cling. Also wanted to add that I put mine in a handy dandy little pitcher with a snap-shut spout. I'm not the bestest pourer and wanted to get more in the machine than on the floor and/or myself. So easy and am able to make a double batch......llllooooovvvveee it! Thanks so much for your aWesOmE site Sherri...using many of your items now!

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    1. Wendy, you make me sooooo HAPPY!! I am beyond thrilled that you (and your hubs) are loving these recipes so much! I was actually being all grumbly about my bad day and you turned it around with this awesome comment! Thank you! {hugs}

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  7. You go girl!!! Love LoVE LOVE your blog...just keep goin' - you are making a difference...one household at a time!

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  8. yay, excited to try this!! thanks for the recipe!
    stacey :)

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    1. Thanks, Stacey! I hope you like it!! :)

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  9. Has anyone had a problem with the vinegar taking some of the dye of towels or dark clothing? I have a front loader and put vinegar in the softener container and have had this happen a couple of times. It almost looks like accidental spills of bleach. I use Heinz or store brand white vinegar. I'm thinking maybe I should dilute it more. Any thoughts?

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    1. I'm sorry that's happening to you!! :( I haven't heard (or seen) that before. Since vinegar is a base it has the potential to act as a mild bleach, but a color safe bleach in my experience. For whites, I have to soak them overnight to get any color change at all.

      Are you using white, distilled vinegar? If so, do you know what the dilution is (should say on the side of the bottle)? Mine is 5% acidity, but it can go up to 8% acidity with no issues. If you have a very concentrated form of vinegar then diluting would be ideal, but with Heinz and store brands I'd think it would be in the proper ratios. And also, do you have a slot for fabric softener in your dispenser? Did you use any citrus essential oils in your softener? They do bleach clothing.

      I hope this solves your problems and I hope you let me know what it is if you find out! I'm curious for sure!

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    2. I'll do some more experiments. My vinegar is 5% as well. For a while I was using the white vinegar straight in the fabric softener dispenser - just 1/4-1/2 cup until a couple of sets of new towels and some boys blue t-shirts came out with the faded purplish spots/streaks on them.

      15-20 years ago, it was often recommended to throw a cup of vinegar into the wash water (on a top loader) to help set dyes when pre-washing new dark fabrics (I'm a quilter). Then they wouldn't bleed all over your quilt after you pieced it and washed it again. Go figure..

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    3. Hmmm… that is really strange!! I'm so confused! I was also recommended to use vinegar to set colors/to prevent fading and that's how I started researching using vinegar in laundry. Over the years, I've read so many articles about it and I don't' remember any of them saying anything about this happening, but I'm going to have to research this! I'll definitely keep you updated if I find anything!

      I hope you let me know if you figure out what's going on. I'm really perplexed!

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  10. My washer doesn't have anything for liquid fabric softener could I use where I put the bleach ?Or when tthe rinse cycle starts?

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    1. I'm not sure what kind of washer you have so I'm hesitant to give advice about this, I'd consult the owner's manual for instructions on how to use fabric softener. You'd just use it like any other fabric softener. :)

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    2. I often dilute 1/2-3/4 cup distilled white vinegar in a quart of water and put it in after the rinse water fills the washer tub. Other than the convenience of a dispenser, which is desirable so you don't have to keep an eye on it, I like this better.( I set a timer so I don't forget to add it) This way would take care of any too-strong solution affect like streaks, as mentioned by A-Squared in the post above this one.

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    3. If you don't have a fabric softener dispenser on your washer, you can fill a downy ball with this and toss it in. It will release during the rinse cycle.

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  11. I am excited to try this! Does it have to go in a glass bottle or can I use an old plastic one? Thanks!

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    1. Good question! I recommend glass because essential oils can break down some plastics. Some people are able to use the plastics with no problem, but I don't know if there is any chemical leeching from the plastics to the fabric softener. So I guess it depends on how much that would bother you. ;) I hope that makes sense!

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    2. Title does make sense, thank you! I figured it was the alcohol. I'm just running out to pick up what I need to make the fabric softener and detergent, then on to dryer balls...I can't wait!

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  12. Hello. I'm glad I came across your page but just had a couple of questions. How many bottles of oil will be needed for your recipe? I've checked and only see a 5ml bottle of Young living lavender oil. Is that even enough for 1 batch? And also for how many loads is the recipe good for? Thanks for all your help.

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    1. Hi! The small 5 ml bottles contain about 80-100 drops while the 15 ml bottles contain closer to 300 drops so they are more than enough for many batches!

      Are you checking on Amazon for the essential oils? Amazon is not an authorized dealer of Young Living essential oils and they often over charge! The 15 ml bottle from Young Living is $23 with a membership so if they are charging more than $8 for the 5ml you will be ripped off!

      Young Living is actually making it a violation to sell on a 3rd party website. If you'd like more info about Young Living you can check out this post: http://www.overthrowmartha.com/p/essential-oils.html

      Thank you!

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    2. Thank you so much for your response. Can you also let me know how many loads the recipe is good for.

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    3. Oh, I'm bad about measuring, but it lasts for around a dozen or so washes.

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  13. I was wondering the same on why the alcohol! Great post! I'm planning a shopping trip today, so these items will be on my list! I found another great idea to eliminate static in the dryer. Crumple a piece of aluminum foil into a ball about the size of a lime and works like a charm!

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  14. What percent rubbing alcohol do you use? I know there are 70% and higher. Thank you

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    1. There are lots of options! You can use 100 proof vodka, pure grain alcohol or honestly, I use the 70%. The difference will be that the 70% is softer and it tends to be recommended for home use because the 90% tends to be used for sterilization and it is highly flammable. Both levels are considered appropriate for getting rid of bed bugs, odors and cleaning fabrics. I hope that helps!

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  15. I have been looking for DIY fabric refresher spray and most recipes I found are vinegar, alcohol, and fabric softener, which isn't really what I was looking for as I want to use basic ingredients. This looks like it could work as a fabric refresher if it is in a spray bottle. Has anyone tried that? Thanks! Definitely using it as a fabric softener! :)

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  16. I have been wanting to use vinegar instead of fabric softener for a while. Some reading I have done states that the vinegar works, but using it regularly in your washer will damage your machine. Does anyone have any experience or suggestions about this concern?

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  17. I have been wanting to use vinegar instead of fabric softener for a while. Some reading I have done suggests that using vinegar in the washer will damage your machine when using regularly. Does anyone have any experience with problems or have suggestions?

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    1. I've been using it for YEARS and I've never had an issue.

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    2. I have a front load washer and was told when I purchased it not to use vinegar in it, that it would damage the machine. Sherri is your machine front load or top load?

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    3. I have a front loader and I've never heard that before. You may want to do a little research to decide what is right for you.

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  18. Hey Sherri, Thanks for all of your AMAZING DIY Recipes! I've been enjoying trying them and am looking forward to making more! Athletic and outdoor clothing usually suggests not using fabric softener because it can coat the synthetic fabrics or merino wool and make them less effective at wicking away moisture, etc. However, I don't have any way to combat static and dog hair! Do you know if this will be safe for those clothes and won't change their effectiveness? Do you know if your DIY Laundry Detergent Recipe is safe for them as well? Thanks so much!!

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    1. Thank you!! And you have a great question. Honestly, I would try 100% wool dryer balls first to see if those help with your static. As for dog hair-- oh lordy! I hear you. That's a battle, isn't it!? Strangely the wool dryer balls do help a bit with that, too, but I sometimes still need to go over them with some two sided tape or a lint brush to get the rest. Good luck!

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  19. Hello! I'm in love with adding your recipes into our home and it's finally time to make some more laundry detergent so I figured I'd make the softener as well! Just curious why you add the alcohol in? I've always used vinegar and EOs. :)

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