Make Your Own Fabric Softener Crystals

Fabric Softener Crystals

Are you a fan of fabric softener crystals like Purex but not a fan of the price??  Try making your own!

Yesterday as I was doing laundry I noticed I was almost out of my homemade laundry detergent. Since I am going to be gone for 4 days this week, I didn’t want to give the hubster any excuses for not doing laundry while I’m gone (I could just hear it now, “Honey, there was no laundry detergent! I COULDN’T do laundry!”) so I decided to mix up a batch.

I had all the ingredients on hand for my powdered laundry detergent recipe except for the Purex Crystals, so I just left it out. I decided instead to try some scented Epsom salt as a substitute. I’d recently read that you could use coarse sea salt as a substitute for fabric softener crystals…but since Epsom salt is much cheaper (and I just happened to have a huge bag of it!), I decided to try it.

The nice thing about making your own?  You can make it any scent you like!

All you need is:

  • Epsom salt
  • essential oil(s) of your choice

Fabric Softener Crystals

Start with 10 drops of essential oil per 1 cup of Epsom salt (you can add more for a stronger scent if you prefer). For my personal “signature scent” I decided to use lavender and lemon…one of my favorite combinations!

Fabric Softener Crystals

I decided to start with 4 cups of Epsom salt and added 20 drops of lavender and 20 drops of lemon. You can make as much or as little as you want…it’s simple to make more!

Fabric Softener Crystals

Give the salt a quick stir to distribute the oils and you’re ready to go!

Fabric Softener Crystals

I first tried my new “crystals” on a load of towels (1/4 cup per load added in the same time as the laundry detergent) and while the scent was more subtle than the Purex…it was definitely noticeable. Which I think is probably a good thing since I’m guessing Purex has some powerful scent chemicals in it.

I did a few more loads of clothes after the towels and each load had a nice, subtle scent and was just as soft and static-free as the laundry I’ve been doing since I started down the homemade laundry detergent road….over a year and a half ago. :-)

Just another option to consider for your homemade laundry products arsenal.  Let me know if you give it at try! :-)


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  1. Crystal says

    @Stacy, Usually the sachets have dried lavender buds in them that you squeeze a little before tossing them in the dryer and it will release a subtle scent but I also add a few drops of lavender oil to mine after 8-10 loads because after a while it loses its scent. I purchased mine at or if you have all of the things to make a few you could do that too!

  2. amy says

    OMG – I was thinking that I love the scent – but not the crystal (who knows what chemicals are used)… this idea is BRILLIANT! Thank you!!

      • says

        When my kids were at home they each had their own basket. I took the stuff right out of the dryer and put into the baskets, so no sorting later. They took their own and put away. They also had mesh bags for socks and I washed and dried them right in the bag. Again, no sorting.

      • Leah Yates says

        I too have the children have their own baskets. They all have a wash day and there is no mixing of clothes. That way no one can complain that the other has their clothes and I know who has their clothes in the wash or dryer. I have 7 kids and this has worked for us for at least 5 years. And only one boy so the girls get possessive of their favorite clothes.

    • Jillee says

      Robin, I get mine from my sister Rebecca who sells doTerra….but like Joanne said below…you can also get them online and at your local health food store.

    • Linda Barnhart says

      Mountain Rose Herbs has more varieties of essential oils than I never knew existed. The quality is amazing, they seem to smell just like the name. Some others seemed weaker.

      • Linda Barnhart says

        Wanted to say too, the shipping is fast and the prices seem better than others. AND I’d make the name into a link, but I don’t know how. Sorry. ;)

      • Tania K says

        I use to use Aura Cacia as well but when I did the paper test it failed. So I am now very skeptical. Jill had the test directions a while ago. You place a small drop of the oil on a piece of paper and let it dry. You should not see a spot after it dries, if you do it is not 100% pure. All my Aura oils left a spot.

      • Jamie says

        I did the EO test as well and the NOW brand turned out better than the Aura Cacia and it’s way cheaper.

      • faith teems says

        I have been taking essential oils internally in capsules for 2 years ( I’m treating cancer on my own ) and 1 important thing I learned when doing research on therapeutic ESO’s is that if the company who sells it says NOT FOR INTERNAL USE…even for herb oils…then chances are they aren’t as ‘ pure’ as they want you to believe and you should NOT take them internally ( or even apply them to your skin , as anything you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body ) Probably Young Living oils are the best , but also they are the most expensive! I have been using NOW brand ESO’s to treat my cancer (along with changing my diet ) and the class4 cancer has shrunk considerably and has not spread to other areas in 2 years!!

    • Trish F says

      I use and newdirectionsaromatics a lot for my EO’s. New Directions is fun because it will list EO’s that blend well together if you want to know if “A” will blend well with “B”. I find it helpful as well as interesting.

  3. Kathy says

    I love this idea. I have a HE front loading machine and have always used liquid detergents and softeners. Will it be okay to use powder?

    • Jo says

      I have an he machine and I have used powders since I bought it. I use 1 tablespoon per load. When I first bought my machine the sales lady convinced me to buy a bucket of their detergent. It was $85 (Canadian)! Crazy! It lasted about 9 months but I knew there had to be a better price. So I started buying name brand from Wal Mart. Then I found this website. I have been making Jillee’s recipe for powdere soap. Awesome! I put one tablespoon right in the drum. I didn’t have the Purex crystals so I just left them out. It costs me about $20 to make. I made it in October and I’m about 1/2 way through…we have a lot of laundry here! I am interest to try this Epsom salt idea.

      • amy says

        I have an HE front load and do the same as Jo said – right in the drum. I used the Purex crystals mixed into my home made detergent and have had no issues

    • TRIXIE says

      I have an HE machine that top loads and there is only one spot for the soap to go in. I started by just putting the powder in the drum but it doesn’t seem like enough water gets to my clothes to melt it all and I had little spots on my clothes. Then I read where another reader also had a top loading machine and she put the powder in the dispenser with no problems. I started pouring my powder in the dispenser and have had great success with it. I’ve been doing it for several months now (maybe a year – who knows) and my clothes are clean and smell great.

      • Carrie says

        I have a front loading HE machine. I put the powdered detergent in the dispenser with no problems. My question is- I know that traditional fabric softeners can make towels and diapers less absorbent, does the same thing happen with the epsom salts?

      • Chris says

        Jillee and Carrie, from what I have been told about the traditional frabic softners, there is a wax substance that is used in them and that is what makes any thing that is washed/dried with them less absorbent.

        With the traditional types of fabric softner when used in the dryer will also clog up the lint screen filter(which you normally can’t see), which can cause your dryer to burn up faster and could literally be a fire issue. What any one who uses dryer sheets needs to do is to take the lint screen to a facet and run water over it, if water bubbles on it then the screen is clogged. If that is the case, it will need to be washed to clean this off. The way to do that is put a little dish soap on the screen, get an old tooth brush that is fairly soft and lightly scrub the screen with it, then run hot water over it, making sure it is passing through the screen.

        I had a appliance repairman tell me this is the number one cause of a dryer burning up or catching on fire. About once a month I take mine out and make sure water will pass through it. If it is the least bit sluggish about passing through, I clean it. Another plus is that you will use less electric as long as the filter is clean and not clogged. But I don’t think the recipe with the epsom salt will cause any issue since there is no wax substance in it.

      • faith teems says

        Years ago when on the Tide website they said in the question and answer section that liquid detergent as well as fabric softeners have a certain amount of oil in them , that is why the dispensers and rubber rims get moldy…because the oil base stays damp a long time ( I did a lot of research BEFORE buying an HE washer because everyone I knew who had one had problems with the inside getting moldy! ). The Tide website said to use a powder detergent for HE machines, as there is no oil in them. Also , open the dispenser and open the door after washing to let them dry out between uses. :)

      • Jo says

        I have also put the homemade powder in the dispenser, with no problem. I just somehow decided to put it in the drum, after i read a lot of other people doing that. I noticed grease spots on my clothes with the first batch of laundry soap i made. I used Sunlight laundry soap (I’m in Canada and can’t find Fels Naptha, etc). I switched to Ivory soap and I have had no more spots at all. Works perfectly!

  4. Rhonda says

    Can you use the crystals in the HE machines? I have been hesitant about using any type of powder in my HE washer.

    • amy says

      I use a powder detergent that I make. I just put the scoop IN the drum before adding clothes. I have had no issue – and my laundry is clean…. and we have 4 lil kids – so it def gets dirty :)

      • Kay says

        Why do you put it in the drum? My HE washer has a place to put powdered detergent. I move the divider if I switch to liquid.

      • Angie says

        I made a big batch of homemade dry detergent for the first time a month ago and it works great in my HE washer! I put it directly in the drum also, I noticed it gets sticky if I put it in the divider. I LOVE this stuff…works better than store bought. :)

      • Patti White says

        Kay, I put mine in the drum because I’m not sure about the soap flakes, I grate my soap and the flakes are larger. I think that’s the concern with most homemade dry detergent.

      • Jenny says

        DO NOT USE homemade laundry detergent in your HE front loading washer!!!! I made my first batch of homemade detergent about 6 years ago and used it very happily in my front loader (a Bosch) for almost 2 years at which point the washer began to have a squeaky squeal during its cycle. A repair man said that the reason for using HE detergent is NOT ONLY for low sudsing but ALSO for some lubricating qualities that the ball bearings need and without that the whole motor could seize. I quickly switched back to Tide HE and the squeaking is still there but has not gotten any worse. I use homemade products at every opportunity possible but will no longer use it for washing my clothes. Please be warned!!

      • Chris says

        I have used Jillee’s homemade powdered washing detergent for about a year (family of 7, so we do several loads of clothes and towels daily). I also asked the Maytag man about using it in my HE front loading washer (one day he was here repairing the dryer). He said the ingredients are IDEAL for the HE washers and have nothing to do with lubricating theparts such as ball bearings….that is a separate compartment of the washer that should never come into contact with ANY detergent. However, all washers should have a “tune up” from time to time, just like your car.

        Oh, and put the detergent, etc, into the drum because it can get sticky before it is completely dissolved. Warmer water also can help with dissolving. Living in Florida, our COLD water is always warm enough…LOL

        LOVE LOVE LOVE the detergent and now will love it more when I switch from the Purex crystals to the Epsom Salt/Essential Oils.

        THANK YOU!!!! from our big, messy, atheltic/dance family!

      • Jessica says

        I asked about using it in my Electrolux HE washer and they said it was fine and wouldn’t hurt anything. I have been using it for over a year (doing 2-3 loads of laundry each day) and haven’t had any problems at all! I love the stuff and can’t wait to try the crystals!

      • Stacy says

        I too have been told the exact same thing. I just made a batch of Laundry soap and was dreading buying softener, now after reading this I have the stuff on hand so I just added it to my batch. Can’t wait to try it. Think I’ll do the bedding just to try it.

      • crazywoman/Billie says

        I was thinking the same thing,,,,,, The water & detergent should never come in contact with the ball bearings!!!
        I can’t figure out where some of these guys come up with some of that stuff!! Sometimes wonder if they just like messing with women’s heads. Tell them something like that, then go away laughing.

      • Arjahi says

        Jenny, you must have misunderstood your repairman. Soap and water SHOULD NOT be entering the motor area. Your motor would have stopped and I am guessing shorted out. This soap is great for HE’s and septic systems. Tide is one of the worst for septic.

      • BarbM says

        I was told at one of the quilt and sewing expos not to use Tide on quilts. I am not sure why but I haven’t used it since hearing that. If it is so bad for quilts it must not be that great for the rest of my clothes. I also switched to the homemade detergent. Mine I have been mixing purex crystals in with it and I will use the epson salt method instead!

      • Laura C. says

        Jenny… I think your repairman was “pulling your leg” about your detergent causing that noise. Laundry detergent does not come in contact with any parts of the motor. I am not a mechanic, but my logic tells me there is a problem in your washer. Have you looked at the Bosch website for a troubleshooting guide? Or look in your owner’s manual. Also, send a note to Bosch about it, tell them what the repair guy told you. I think that repairman just didn’t want to do the repair. Hope you get that noise fixed soon.

      • Kristin Lieb says

        I’m so sorry that happened to you! So strange he would say that! I can’t imagine that any type of detergent would be able to get into the ball bearings and motor, sounds like you may have a defective machine if it can. I’d def. contact the manufacturer about that. Please let us know what they say :)

      • Susan says

        Just a quick note to you. I have had a Bosch for 5 years. We keep getting it repaired! I will never buy one again! The repairmen are different every time they could but one thing they tell us is exactly the same…Do not use liquid detergent in your machine. Best to use powdered! Trust me when I tell you its the washer not the detergent! Hope that helps you go back to making your own detergent again. :)

      • says

        I have a Siemen Brand front loader. Siemen also manufactures Bosch. The plastic that houses the machine is falling apart, literally. I called a repairman to take a look at it and he said that it happens all the time. The machine runs well, but what good will that do if the entire outside cracks apart. It contact Siemen and was told that it is a “high end” machine. People who purchase “high end” washers generally don’t keep them very long and so they don’t have to be durable. I couldn’t believe my ears. Expensive machines are designed to wear out sooner because rich people expect that. Well, I am not rich. I just wanted a good machine. It is not yet seven years old. LOL. Love the liquid laundry detergent. Made two batches of “Mom’s Magical Laundry Detergent” and gave them to my adult kids as a stocking stuffer. I use it and have found that it works just a well as store-bought, if not better. Can’t wait to make crystals as softener. Is it possible to make softener liquid? Enjoy this website.

      • Michelle says

        Jenny, sorry to hear this but your repair man is wrong. The water and detergent say inside the drum. This never even gets close to the motor or bearings. I have the Maytag and have had no issues.

      • Ana Berger says

        I had a Bosch front loader for about 5 years also. It is always breaking down! My mother had the same issue. I finally got rid of it! It’s the faulty manufacturing, not the soap. I love my Kenmore now!

      • Heidi N says

        I have had a front loader for 12 years and never used HE detergent and have never had a repairman out. Pretty sure he was messing with you.

      • Terry says

        If you think about what your repair man told you, it doesn’t make sense. The laundry detergent does not go through the motor, the ball bearings, etc.., LOL. Plus, you still have the squeak! And, almost all homemade laundry detergents are low sudsing. I make one that doesn’t have ANY sudsing at all and works beautifully.
        Seriously, though….think about that……detergent does NOT mix with the motor and ball bearings, LOL.
        Please don’t get mad…..I’m really trying to make light of the situation. I really found that a bit funny……what he told you. Detergent just doesn’t touch the motor and ball bearings. It’s not a lubricant.

      • pam says

        Sorry to say that is a fart.. Your repair man just wanted money… I have been using homemade laundry soap in mine… I had to have a repair because I was using Tide… They said using homemade is nothing more then the powered stuff just you know what your putting in it.. because they have the same stuff in it already that were putting in it plus other crap… JUST FYI

      • Shala says

        I recently spent $160 repairing my HE washer. The cause? Using the detergent drawer for those fragrant crystals. Amy is right. Placing it directly in the drum works much better. I guess they don’t desolve well enough and clogged it up.

    • Diana says

      Now I have not tried this but have used the downy crystals and I know that they say to put that directly in the drum for HE. When I use them I put it there and detergent in the drawer. Hope that helps!

    • Jeni Rose says

      I have a top loader HE machine and have been using Purex Crystals in my homemade laundry soap since September. I have a friend who has a front leader HE machine and also uses it with no issues.

    • Patti White says

      Rhonda, I use them in mine and I’ve had no problems, I just toss it in the tub with the clothes

  5. says

    Thank you for the great idea, I will have to give this a try. I still struggle with static since I have been using homemade laundry products, especially in the winter.

    • Nancy Carpenter says

      You can also crumble up a “ball” of aluminum foil and toss it in the dryer. Takes away the static cling.

      • Jenna says

        This idea definitely works! If you have pets you will love how it is also works for removing pet hair!

      • Tori says

        If you use natural wool dryer balls it helps with the static and you can scent them directly with essential oils. I absolutely love them. I ended up making a second set so i could keep a cedar and lemongrass set for my linens (we had a moth problem for a while and this has solved it) and a more luxurious lavendar, geranium, lemon, and clove set.

      • veronnica says

        I am new to dryer balls I would like to know if you use light colored wool will it cover the dark clothes with lint.

      • EnDub says

        This didn’t work for me at all. Also, I worry about the foil scratching the interior of the drum.

      • crazywoman/Billie says

        I’ve tried the aluminum foil balls, and it didn’t work for me. And they didn’t last NEARLY as long as the articles about them I’ve read said they would. :>(

        I made dryer balls by putting tennis balls in old socks & tying tightly. Didn’t want the wool balls, as I’m allergic to wool, and didn’t want the wool getting on/in my clothes. Works great, and re-purposed the old socks. If you are a tennis player, old tennis balls would be great for this I think.
        I saw some tennis ball sized whiffle balls at Dollar tree yesterday that I bet would work fair too. But they might be a little too light. ?

      • Patsy says

        My problem with using tennis balls is every time I open the dryer and the balls fall out, my dog is right there to snatch them and then I have to explain to him those are not his. LOL

      • says

        Nancy… WHICH of the ideas were you referring to pertaining to removing pet hair? Aluminum ball or the Epsom fabric salts?

    • Gretchen Dietz says

      You can make your own dryer balls by making yarn balls with 100% wool yarn and felting them in the washer. My Dad’s dryer maintenance guy said they are the best things to use – the other ones you buy can mess up the drum of the dryer, he said.

    • Steph says

      I’ve been using the dryer balls for a fue months now & was also having problems w/ static & read some where to put balls of tin foil in with the dryer balls. I took about 2ft of foil & crumpled it into as tight of a ball as possible then handed to the hubby & had him squeeze it even tighter. I think I have 2 or 3 in there now & no more problems w static.

  6. says

    I’ve given up on fabric softener since using dryer balls, which I read about here. My only addition to the dryer is a small lavender sachet, to give a nice fresh scent. My towels are still fluffy, no static, and my clothes are drying quicker.

    I couldn’t be happier!!!

    Thanks. :)

    • Stacie says

      What type of sachet do you use? Fresh lavender that ou grew and stuffed in a bag or essential oils? I love this idea!

      • Crystal says

        Usually the sachets have dried lavender buds in them that you squeeze a little before tossing them in the dryer and it will release a subtle scent but I also add a fee drops of lavender oil to mine after 8-10 loads because after a while it loses its scent. I purchased mine at

    • Susan says

      I find this not to be true for me. Using wool dryer balls make no difference to static. Adding lavender or essence oil would make no difference on static.

  7. Jeni Rose says

    Are you kidding me right now? I LOVE THIS IDEA! I really like the Purex Crystals, but love the idea of making my own scent even MORE! You totally and completely ROCK!