Homemade Fabric Softener!

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WELCOME to “Save My Sanity Saturday” at One Good Thing By Jillee….where I attempt to avoid having a nervous breakdown by actually giving myself a day off from blogging once a week!

Here is an oldie but a goodie from February 12, 2012……..

I have had a lot of people asking about a homemade version of fabric softener lately.

Honestly, I don’t use fabric softener per se (I use homemade DRYER SHEETS) so I really didn’t have anything to offer. But tonight I ran across a recipe that I think you’re going to like…and I think I’m even going to try!

It contains all the ingredients that make sense to me to be in a homemade fabric softener, and it is super easy! (almost a prerequisite in my book!)

But I think the thing that really sold me on it was that you can either use it as a dryer sheet OR add it as a rinse to your clothes washer. It’s always nice to have options. :-)

I think I’ll try it both ways and see which one I like better. But I was so excited to find this and share it with you, I decided to break my own unwritten rule and post about it before I tried it. I’m going to take barefootmommawv’s word for it who posted it on Food.com. And of course I will update after I’ve given it a whirl with my own laundry.

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Homemade Fabric Softener



1. Mix water, vinegar, and hair conditioner in a 1 gallon container; stir. Do not shake it; it will cause foaming.
2. Use the same amount you normally use in a rinse cycle or spritz it on a wash cloth and throw in dryer.

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F.Y.I.  – This makes a whole gallon of softener. If you have storage space issues or you just don’t think you’ll EVER go through that much softener (especially is you are utilizing the “spritz” technique), cutting the amounts in HALF would be pretty simple (even for mathematically-challenged me!)


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I just couldn’t stand it!  I had to make this! I had an incredibly busy day yesterday…important meeting, lots of paperwork to be done…but I somehow managed to squeeze this into my morning. Not that it’s that HARD! It literally took like 5 minutes to make. But then, of course, I had to try it out! Which meant doing a test load of laundry. By the time I was finished I was ALMOST late to my meeting…but made it in the knick of time! :-)

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I took the advice of one of the comments below and heated up both the vinegar and the conditioner in the microwave just a little bit before mixing in the bowl. Then I poured it all into this jar I found at Walmart that I was planning on using in my pantry reorganization project.  I’ll just have to go buy another one. :-)

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I did a load of white towels and used about 1/2 a cup of the liquid softener in the last rinse cycle. The towels definitely came out soft (and clean), but I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t MORE of a scent to them. I might try a little more next time. But overall I was very pleased with this recipe.

For what it’s worth…I think the idea that several people made in the comments section about just using straight vinegar with a few drops of essential oils as a fabric softener has a lot of merit as well.

Vinegar truly is an amazing all-purpose product.


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UPDATE TO THE UPDATE:  An astute visitor noticed my sudsy finished product and surmised I may have mistakenly used a bottle of BODY WASH instead of CONDITIONER…because…get this….Olay doesn’t MAKE hair products! lol!

Wow….two FAILS in one week. (See World’s Easiest Boiled Eggs). I could get FIRED for something like this!  Oh wait…I run the joint.  whew!

Good news is the recipe isn’t a fail…just my execution. So hopefully you all did as I SAID and not as I DID! ;-)

Oh well….tomorrow is another day….and I’m pretty sure this won’t be my last goof on this blog. Comes with the territory I’m afraid.  Sillee Jillee.


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  1. hmwrkr2 says

    If you soak a washcloth (or parts of one) in the softener, do you let it dry before using it in the dryer? I'm thinking it might makes spots if thrown in wet. No?

    • WNCmountaingirl says

      yes if you are going to use them as a dryer sheet let them dry first before putting in the dryer …

  2. Anonymous says

    I have been using this and I love it. My jeans are so soft and since I don't really like a heavy scent on my clothes the original recipe is perfect. Like some stated above I did a half batch and put it in an old softner bottle for ease of use. I am telling my friends about it. It cost about $1 a bottle and could cost less if you use a coupon and sale price of the conditioner.

  3. Brittany says

    I just made this tonight and mine didn't really mix together the conditioner kind of clumped in the water and vinegar. Will it mix together by tomorrow? Did I do something wrong?

    • Diane says

      Use hot water or heat the softener on the stove until the conditioner melts. Mine did the same thing.

  4. Sharon says

    O, I forgot to mention that I just give the jug a shake before using. I saved an emptly fab softner bottle. It was a large one since we have 6 people in our family to do laundry for. Next batch will fill the bottle and I just use 1 capfull per washload.

  5. Sharon says

    I made my first homemade fabric softener. I wanted something that wouldn't leave a residue in my fab soft dispenser but make the clothes soft, smell nice and no static. I made a small batch to start. 4 cups water, 4 cups white vinegar and 1 cup of water based potpouri in Linen scent. Clothes are soft and not staticy (sp?) and the scent is light which is good for a family with allergies. I don't like heavy perfume scents so this worked great for me. You could probably add 2 cups for more scent. The bottle of potpouri was $3 for 34 ounces at Walmart.

  6. Anonymous says

    My son works for a plumbing supply co. They also sale appliances. One of the reps told him that you should periodically take you dryer vent out and wash it if you use dryer sheets. He didn't say anything about the softeners in the wash. It probably wouldn't hurt to do it either way. I am going to make this very soon. Sandy

    • Missie says

      I have been washing my dryer vent for a while. It really seems to make a difference in the amount of time it takes to dry a load of clothes after washing the vent. If you pour water on the vent and it is slow in seeping through, then you have a build up from the dryer sheets on the vent and heat is not getting to where it needs to be. To me that is $$$ saved on my electric bill. Also I have been making the laundry soap, fabric softener and dishwasher soap for about a year and half, LOVE it.

  7. Anonymous says

    LOVE your ideas!! I have made the laundry soap and it works great. Just made the softener über excited about this! I have an HE washer and NO issues at all!!!

  8. Celeste Lux says

    I was very excited by this post and, having all the necessary ingredients on hand, I whipped up a batch. I've run it through several batches of laundry to this point and here are my thoughts. Keep in mind that this may work different for different people based on the softness of their water, etc.. I have an HE front loader, and I put the rinse in the machine dispenser. In my opinion, I have been getting nearly the same results using vinegar and essential oil, like many others. The scent from the conditioner did not seem to linger in the clothes like I hoped, and the clothes weren't any softer or less static-y. I would be interested to hear what others who are trying it think, and I will use up the batch I made and see if I notice any difference over the long haul, but it's looking like my tried-and-true vinegar with a few drops of essential oil in the rinse dispenser may be my fall back softener. also, I'd like to share that I have recently learned of putting a ball (or two) of aluminum foil in your dryer to cut down on static–and I really like it. Not that I really have a lot of static anyway (vinegar rinse seams to help with that) but all the pet hair that wants to electromagnetically adhere to some of the clothes seems powerless against the foil ball.

    • Nancy says


      Thank you for the tip about the aluminum foil balls in the dryer.. I had never heard of it before, but with dogs and cats in the house I will be using this tip… Thanks…

    • says

      Celeste thanks for the idea about the foil balls! I have 5 large dogs and that makes for lots of clingy dog hair. Immediately when I read this I added one ball, then when I had more used foil I added a second – not only do I have little-to-no static cling (I also, though, use Jillee’s home made dryer sheets) but after using for a few weeks, I can tell the foil is working to cut down on the dog hair!

      • WNCmountaingirl says

        OOO Gonna have to try the foil ball (once my dryer is fixed lol right now am having to hang my clothes to dry ) cause I have 5 dogs and 4 cats – I just say at our “house pet is not only a fashion accessory but a condiment” lol….It just plain gets EVERYWHERE!!!

      • Dawn says

        Haha….that seriously made me laugh out loud (“house pet is not only a fashion accessory but a condiment”). We’ve got 2 dogs and 3 cats, so we’re in the same boat. This is why I don’t bring food over to anyones houses anymore…lol.

      • Leslie says

        Oh, wncmountaingirl, I’m going to use your line that pet hair is “not only a fashion accessory but a condiment.” Hilarious! Going up to Waynesville soon, BTW. Love that area.

      • Ruth says

        I’ve been using the foil balls for several weeks now and static has definitely cut down in the laundry. (It’s very dry where I live and static is horrible in summer and worse in winter!) Has anyone else tried using epsom salts for a rinse? I use a 1/4 cup, roughly, per load and it really helps. We also have extremely hard water here in Grand Coulee!

      • Sylvia says

        I also have use epsom salt lavender fragrance the one you buy at dollar tree, it leaves the clothes very soft only use about 1/4 of a cup.

    • says

      with the vinegar method, how much do you use? I have one of those downy fabric softner balls, would you just fill that? Thanks

      • Linda Corbin says

        I have very hard well water (in MT.) and I use a Downey ball of cheap white vinegar only – cleans the machine and softens the clothes. Also only use low heat on dryer as over drying clothes causes static and can ruin the clothes in the long run. Easier to “reset” than buy all new clothes!! I usually set @ 35 min. to 50 min. depending on heaviness of load.

    • Cheryl says

      I’ve made a couple of batches of this softener and am not crazy about it, but it isn’t a fail either. I like the rich fresh smell from the grocery store stuff and so added essential oil to this recipe. It still doesn’t smell all that much. It takes a LOT of oil to leave a residue of scent in the clothing. I’m thinking of reducing the water because it takes a lot to do the same job as the stuff I was using and I would like it more concentrated. Maybe less water, more vinegar? Also, my laundry had static so it was a fail from that standpoint. I would love to find out if anyone has tweaked this basic recipe to get a concentrated form that leaves scent and no static.

      • Lori says

        I agree. Not the fresh scent I like from the store bought stuff. My next batch will be equal parts vinegar & hair conditioner. Eliminating the water completely.

      • SarahLee says

        Cheryl…I have tried this recipe in the past an felt the same way: not a fail, but not a win either. I simply cut my store bought fabric softener with vinegar. I like half and half, but I have very hard well water and hang my clothes out on the line in the summer to keep from heating up my house and offset the cost of the electric bill from watering my garden and running the A/C. Just a thought.

      • ash says

        I usually just put a few drops of essential oil on a piece of an old t-shirt in the dryer. This leaves the desired the smell. I think I will make this & put it in a spritzer bottle for the dryer.

    • Beth says

      I have a sister with major allergy issues & a son with eczema. The enviromental health clinic recommends the vinegar rinse and foil balls. Essential oils would be a bad idea for some. I don’t do well with scent. I didn’t realize the foil attracted pet hair; can’t wait to tell my prince charming that does most of the laundry here. I wonder if the vinegar could be used as dryer sheets using the pour some on an old face cloth and toss in the dryer with the foil balls? My son is going to have the most unusual laundry products in his apartment of 5 friends. He is sensitive to strong products and I’m teaching him to be frugal too. He’ll spend less on laundry products and won’t have to carry the heavy jugs up the icy winter hills. I hope he will make the yogurt too, one roommate is bringing a slow cooker.

    • Rhonda says

      Thank you so very much for the aluminum foil ball tip!! I am just trying two of them crumpled up in the dryer. Wondering if it makes a difference if the foil is crumpled with the dull or shiny side facing out, or if it is just a random crumple AND also wondering how BIG the foil balls should be AND if they should be loosely crumpled or tightly crumpled. Can you specify if it makes a difference? Thanks again for the idea!

      • Karissa says

        You will want to tightly crumple the ball of aluminum foil and it will get even more compact after a couple times in the dryer. Everything I have seen about the technique has not mentioned anything about which side needs to show. I have been using the aluminum foil balled up in the dryer for about a week, and I think I am going to add another ball. The one I had started was just a little bit smaller than a tennis ball and is now about half that size. I also have a tennis ball in the dryer to help with softening of the clothes as they dry. Not sure if any of it really helps yet, but I too cant wait to find out for sure.

      • gerda says

        My recipe for the football sais tightly crumpled
        The size of about a golf ball they get smaller when you
        Use them when to small just toss and replace
        It works like a charm

    • says


    • ChrisP says

      Celeste… THANK YOU! I will try that! I have two hairy dogs who shed everywhere! It’s always a challenge to get it out of the laundry.

    • Loretta T. Consiglio says

      I know this is almost 2 years after the post, but I just saw it.

      About how many drops of oil do you put in the softener dispenser unit, on your washing machine with the vinegar? And….what brand of essential oil do you use?

      Thank you,

  9. Ariel says

    I have a HE washer but I'm not seeing any thoughts on whether you can add this mixture to the actual softner compartment. Should it be used strictly in a downy ball?

    • Julie says

      I have an HE washer as well and just fill my softner compartment with no problems at all. I have done about 20 loads this way and no problems. :)

      • Leigh says

        I use this in my (1 yr. old) HE washer and it works like a charm! I add it to the dispenser. I’m not concerned about it gunking up my washer since vinegar gets rid of gunk on everything.

  10. june p says

    for the lady that asked about homemade hair gel… google "flaxseed gel" there are videos on youtube as well…

    • Makeeba says


      Chia seeds also work great as a hair gel. Prepare them as you would flax seeds. I also add a little shea butter, coconut oil and aloe vera gel. I have natural african-american hair which tends to get very dry, so I add the coconut and shea for added moisture.


  1. […] Homemade Fabric Softener – Finally! | One Good Thing by JilleeFeb 1, 2012 … I have had a lot of people asking about a homemade version of fabric softener lately. Honestly, I don’t use fabric softener per se (I use … […]