Feed on
Pin It

The Damsel has lectured previously on making your own dryer sheets–a similar topic, perhaps, but not PRECISELY the same thing. What if you want to POUR liquid fabric softener into your washing machine compartment instead of using a dryer sheet?

Sometimes people have these urges.

You can make your own liquid fabric softener. There are several versions to choose from–most being a combination of baking soda, vinegar, and/or hair conditioner. The Damsel is no chemist, but she did take note of a comment about mixing baking soda and vinegar to use as a fabric softener. The commenter said that once this stuff bubbles up (yes, this is the volcano recipe from the school science fair) it chemically changes to a salt. So you end up with salty water.


Yet, many people insist that the combination works. Others say use baking soda alone. Or vinegar alone. Or vinegar plus hair conditioner.

Here is one common combination:

Pour a cup of baking soda into a gallon container, followed by a cup of water. Add 6 cups of vinegar (observe bubbling with amazement) and then pour in 6 more cups of water. Add 10 or so drops of essential oils if you like the smell, but be aware the vinegar scent won’t remain on your clothes, so you don’t need to worry about covering that up. Shake before each use–a cup or so per load.

If you use hair conditioner, for goodness sake, buy a big jug of something cheap–something that smells good. Your clothes will not judge you for not using salon conditioner.

Vinegar also will remove soap residue from clothes, so you’ll not only get softening, but brightening as well, as the dinge of soap is removed.

Is “dinge” a word?

And, if you still notice static cling, try crumpling up a piece of aluminum foil and throwing it in the dryer. Really.

Lastly, remember that Grandma would say, goodness, just hang things on the line. Nothing beats the luxury of line-dried, sun-scented sheets.

Follow Me on Pinterest
  • Another great use for vinegar that I've discovered…if you have a musty smelling load of laundry (like the one your forgot about & left in the washer all day), just add a cup of vinegar along with your regular detergent!

  • I am not a fabric softener user, except for cloth diapers occasionally. I am a big fan of using baking soda and vinegar for everything though! Looking at those fluffy towels makes me wonder if I should give it a try for those washes though. Nothing like a soft, fluffy towel. 🙂

  • I make my own laundry powder from grated Zote (or Fels Naptha), 1 cup of borax, and 1 cup of *washing* soda. Once I run out of my dryer sheets, I intend to try homemade fabric softener as well. I thought about just using white vinegar alone but I'll try the combo you wrote about!

    From the SITS Girls/31DBBB, KludgyMom SU thread

    • the_damsel

      Let me know how you like it!

    • Kogerdonna62

      I have been making my soap powder the same way, except putting drops of scented oil in it.  I made a bunch up and haven’t had to buy soap powder in months.

    • NanGreen

      I use home made soap in a similar recipe to yours.  It works great.  I use vinegar and fabric softener as a rinse. It seems to rinse cleaner and I like the smell of the fabric softener.  May try something else when this softener is gone?

  • I LOVE this site! Could one even leave the wadded up ball of foil in the dryer?

    • Anonymous

      I believe so! I’m going to try it.

    • Anonymous

      I believe so! I’m going to try it.

    • R Brown Dill

      Yes you can, I use one for a few weeks at a time.

  • Coupongal

    I love the smell of the New Purex Crystals….have an idea how to get that scent into my own homemade fabric softener?

    • Anonymous

      Sorry I haven’t replied sooner…I keep thinking I’ll look at the Purex Crystals when I’m at the store but I forget. Tell me what they are like. Do you put them into the wash just like fabric softener?

    • Annajenkins_84

      The purex crystals go into the wash and shouldnt be used with your fabric softener you want them washed off of your clothes, if you make your own laundry detergent you can put them in there…

  • Amberhill

    I hang my laundry on the line, but putting fabric softener in the wash helps to alleviate that crispy texture they get from drying in the sun.

    • Anonymous

      Good idea! I love line drying.

  • Coupongal

    Just a note on the Purex Crystals…….after a bit of research and using a chemical decoder online I found out that it is nothing more than large Sugar Crystals, Fragrance and a Preserver. I’m not sure what effect (if any) or residue that sugar may leave on my clothes. I love the ease of using them at the start of my wash cycle, and would love to make my own sugar crystals but I’m not a chemist and wouldn’t begin to know where to start. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. I’m trying to get away from babysitting the washing machine just to put softener in or having to use dryer sheets.

    • Sissie

      I use 2 cups of Epsom salt with 10 to 15 drops of any essential oil (love lavender). My laundry smells fabulous!

      • thedamselindisdress

        Sissy, what a fabulous idea. I’m trying this. How much do you put in each load? Margot (The Damsel)

  • Aprilruffino

    So, I’m curious, can you add hair conditioner to your recipe to give it a nice smell?  I love my snuggles but I have been wanting to try this for a long time.  I think I could ditch the softner if I had something that made my clothes smell good too. If yes, how much would I add?

    • Anonymous

      I have heard of people using conditioner, so I think that is a go, but I’d just have to experiment as to the amount. I haven’t tried it myself yet. Let me know if you find the perfect amount!
      Margot (The Damsel)

      • Angie

        I put 6 cups of water on the stove with one container of Suave *any scent…..once it is melted then I add 4 cups of Vinegar…helps clean AND smell good…clothes turn out great!!

        • Angie

          Oh sorry Suave Conditioner!! =)

        • Luanne roeder

          How many ounces of the suave (what size bottle) and do you add it to final rinse or in the beginning with detergent and clothes??

  • Gayla

    you need a button for Pinterest on your sharebar !

    • Anonymous

      Good idea! I’ll get on that!

  • DJ

    oh i would marry you, but I’m already married and I have this thing about not marrying someone from the same gender — BUT I WOULD MARRY YOU ANYWAY! Your tips are so awesome!

  • Cuddlescarroll

    Wondering if you can use baking soda, vinegar and water to make iron free spray? As the instructions just say to add fabric softener to water. Hmmm, I’ll give it a go anyway.

    • thedamselindisdress

      When you say iron free spray do you mean spray to iron clothes with? If so, I’m not sure…but it’s worth a try. Margot (The Damsel)

      • i work with a gentleman whom makes his own liquid fabric softener, liquid detergent, and starch spray!!! its amazing really and the softener with the conditioner works i got the recipe from him. if you don’t mind me sharing that one it’s…
        6 cups of water
        3 cups of white vinegar
        and 15oz or 16oz bottle of your favorite sent of conditioner(suave has a ton of lovely scents and the bottles are less than $1 and all this make a tad less than 1 galllon)

    • VeganGem

      I have unclogged drains with vinegar and baking soda. It makes a chemical reaction. Not sure that is a good idea.

  • Anusha

    any chances of the clothes loosing colour? would love to try this as it is in my lines of ‘Go Green’. thanks

    • thedamselindisdress

      I don’t know for sure, but I’d think this would actually help set the color. I’ve heard of people using vinegar for that purpose. I doubt these ingredients would make clothes lose colour, but I’m sorry I don’t know absolutely for sure. Margot (The Damsel)

  • Good idea, maybe… but the price of softener compared to buying vinegar and baking soda is completely outweighed.

  • Cindy

    Got here anyway but your link to this spot has some extra friends
    http://www.mynewoldschool.com/2011/02/22/make-your-own-fabric-softener(/http://) the stuff between the () is not needed so it breaks your link.  Thought you would like to know and I did enjoy your fabric softener recipe.  Probably try it this weekend not big on store bought anyway have lived without for over 20 years.  Thanks Cindy

  • Trustin77

    If the mix of baking soda and vinegar makes salt, that actually makes a lot of sense as salt makes hard water soft.

    • thedamselindisdress

      Great point!
      Margot (The Damsel)

  • K8R T8R

    The conditioner recipe is as follows: Mix 6c. hot tap water and 2c. conditioner, then add 3c. white vinegar. That’s it! 🙂

    • sissy

      thanks so much :))

    • Luanne

      Do you add in final rinse like if your washer has a fabric softener compartment or do you add at start with detergent??

  • Harry Harris

    Vinegar and baking soda when combined do not produce “salty water” Baking soda is basically Sodium bicarbonate and vinegar is about 7-10% Acetic acid. Acetic acid is a carboxylic acid. When both are mixed together the resulting reaction produces Carbon Dioxide, Sodium acetate and water. Salty water is a mixture of Sodium Chloride (NaCl) and water (H2O). You’d have to be using Hydrochloric acid instead of vinegar. (Then you’d be in more trouble hand Flash Gordon)

    NaHCO3 + CH3COOH = CO2+H2O+NaC2H3O2

    • Blaine

      sodium acetate is a salt

  • Shari Prince

    Not to be a stick in the mud, but if you use the Hair Conditioner route and your purpose is to remove the extraneous toxic chemicals from your fabric softener, you will NOT do that by using the Hair Conditioner way. Just read all the 14 to 27 letter or more chemical names that are in the Suave conditioner for example. Some of those are neurotoxins! Really! Look up some of the names of the chemicals on http://www.goodguide.com and check out the chemicals in your Hair Conditioner and think twice about adding that to your home made fabric softener. I say this because I am now in search of a new fabric softener because I was using Purex Linens and Lilies which has just gone through a new and improved because the company wants to make it more concentrated so you get more loads per the same size bottle they were selling of their biodegradable formula. Their new and improved formula is no longer biodegradable! The ingredients in their new product; some are neurotoxins! But of course they will not admit it. They say they use these ingredients as a preservative. Bull Crap! So, I’m just saying, to check your Conditioners as they have these same toxic ingredients. I’m going to try the baking soda route with an essential oil I like. I’ve tried baking soda alone and it seems to work just fine, but does not leave the nice fragrance. But since I am allergic to many fragrances, I have to find one, I’m not sensitive to. Good Luck to you all! 😉

    • thedamselindisdress

      Great points, Shari. Thanks for taking the time to add this info. I’m always looking for ways to limit chemical exposure.
      Margot (The Damsel)

      • Luanne

        Shari is so right however you may like to try a natural conditioner from an organic line…(