Review of “Homemade Fabric Softener”

I’ve used liquid fabric softener for as long as I’ve been doing laundry.  I’ve tried so many brands that I know I couldn’t name them all.  Some smell better than others, some soften better than others, but one thing was for sure – they all have to figure into the budget.  By now, you probably know that I like to save money, but I also like soft clothes that smell fresh when they’re laundered and that’s where my recent experiments with “DIY fabric softener” comes into the story.  I thought if I shared my experience, it might help someone else out there in blog-land.

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve read that I recently started making my own laundry soap.  I don’t go shopping often, but when I do, I buy a month’s supply at once.  I know exactly how much I spend for any given item on my shopping list.  So, I can tell you that before I started making my own soap and softener, I spent an average of $22. per month on those two items alone.  That’s nothing to sneeze at and I can think of quite a few things that $20 can buy, other than those two products.

First, I think I should tell you how I tested this out.  I never dry our clothes with a clothes-dryer.  We do own a dryer, but after so long of it going unused, my husband took it out because we both got tired of it being there and not being used for anything other than a catch-all.  During good weather I use a clothesline in the yard and I have a couple of lines on the porch if I have to have something dry soon and the weather isn’t cooperating.  Inside, I have a great system that he made for me three or four years ago and it took the place of the drying racks that you place on the floor.  There are two racks hanging over our woodstove, one on each side of it.  They are attached to the ceiling and I hang laundry on coat hangers and put them on these racks or if it’s sheets or something like that, I just hang it over the bar.

Here’s what the drying rack looks like:

It works great and laundry dries remarkably quick during cold weather because the stove is always burning.

Ok, back to the softener issue… If you hang your laundry to dry, you’re well aware that you have to deal with wrinkly clothes more so than a person who uses a dryer would have to.  So, when I bought liquid fabric softeners, I wasn’t buying them because I wanted to control static or simply for the smell.  I was buying it because it helped the laundry dry quicker and it kept the clothes from being too wrinkly.

What did I use if I ran out of fabric softener?  Good old white vinegar!  Yep, it’s great in the rinse cycle (and in the wash cycle).  So, when I read that you could “make your own” fabric softener and it had vinegar in the recipe, I jumped all over that!  There are recipes everywhere and they’re all about the same (6 cups water, 3 cups white vinegar and 2 cups cheap hair conditioner).  Notice the vinegar in the recipe.  Now, I read on one of those recipe sites that the conditioner was used for scent only, so to choose something you liked the smell of.  Did I try the recipe?  Yes.  Did I like it?  It was okay and it worked.  I just didn’t work any better than straight white vinegar, in my opinion.  Also, I couldn’t smell a difference between something rinsed in that homemade softener when compared to using only vinegar.  So, with that comparison the only thing left for me to do was to choose straight vinegar – no fuss, no muss.

Vinegar helps rinse the soap out, it helps so lint won’t stick to your clothes and it makes your clothes smell fresh (and no, they won’t smell like vinegar, I promise).  As far as I can tell, my clothes don’t have any more wrinkles than they had when I was using the “store-bought” softeners.  The other “plus”?  Vinegar is cheap!  I buy a gallon jug of vinegar for about $2.50 and I can clean with it and do laundry – that’s a bargain in my book!

I guess it all boils down to what we like, as with anything.  A friend of mine told me of someone she knows that made her own fabric softener, but since it didn’t smell like the “real stuff”, she wasn’t going to make it again.  I tried making it for a different reason.  I wanted it to rinse any residues, take out wrinkles and help it dry quicker – vinegar does that for me.  Maybe if I used a clothes dryer it would be different, I don’t know.  I have never seen much sense in paying to dry my laundry when air is free.

Well, that is my experience with making “homemade fabric softener”.  Have you ever made it?  Do you use liquid softeners… have you tried vinegar?  I’d love to hear any comments and/or feedback you have – I’m always interested in what YOU have to say!


This entry was posted in DIY, Green Lifestyle, Homemade Cleaning Products, Laundry, Natural Cleaning Products and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Review of “Homemade Fabric Softener”

  1. I have tried vinegar, but found that since I use a dryer (apartment living and no wood stove) that as long as I separated my clothes and didn’t dry any synthetic fabrics my clothes come out just fine, no static. I have pared down the number of synthetic fabrics to just a couple and those I a hang on the shower rod to dry.

  2. That sounds easy enough. I’m sure where it’s just you that you really don’t have a lot of laundry to do. I don’t mean that wrong, only that it probably isn’t something that gets behind on you. Using a dryer will soften clothes all on it’s own. Just typing that reminds me of when hubby and I first met and we didn’t have a washer or dryer. I used to spend the majority of the day every Sunday at the laundromat – usually along the lines of 20 loads going! That’s a lot of laundry and now from time to time, I think back to how little I have now, in comparison with then.

  3. SherryGreens says:

    You are a laundry girl after my own heart (and also canning as I can see by your header!)! I also line dry everything, and my dryer just sits there, unused and cold. I dry outside all spring and summer, and then in late September I bring in all inside, since everything would just freeze solid where I live (Alberta, Canada). I am doing laundry for a family of four.

    I also use my own homemade laudry soap, but use the dry receipe, since I was scared by the gel ones! I use Tipnut laundry recipe #9 and it works like a charm for over 2 years. I have never tried vinegar though, how much do you use?

    To avoid wrinkles, I have devised this method – lay the first thing you want to dry, out flat on top of the washer (or table). Then lay the next thing on top of that, flatten and smooth it out. Keep adding, layer by layer, so each time you smooth out the top layer, the weight of the layers is flattening the items below. I do this from largest article to smallest. Then I hang it all up, and everything is smooth and flat. It dries so nice, just like it has been ironed. My clothes come out better than going through a dryer, and because they dry so flat and straight, they are super easy to fold.

    Anyway thanks for stopping by my blog, it looks like we have a lot in common! 🙂

    • Hi Sherry! I’m so glad to meet you! Yes, we do seem to have a lot in common, don’t we? I know what you mean about laying the clothes out. I’ll describe my method. I kind of “snap” the clothes in the air when I take them from the washer and I immediately put them onto hangers. If it’s a button-up shirt, once it’s on the hanger, I take my fingers and smooth along the button lines on both sides, then I grab the shoulder in one hand, the cuff in the other and pull, smoothing back upwards to make a crease in the sleeve. It comes out nice when it’s dry, beats having to iron anything!

      As to your question of how much vinegar I use… I don’t measure (even when I cook, I rarely means, lol) but I would estimate that I use between 1/2 – 3/4 of a cup in the rinse cycle. I think most sites tell you to use 1/2 cup, but I just pour it in. I love how it helps the laundry. I can’t believe how much money I spent over the years on liquid fabric softeners!

      I’ll be over to visit your blog soon. I’ve been behind the 3-ball, as they say – hubby’s computer died about a month ago, so we’ve been sharing my laptop. His oldest daughter sent him a netbook the other day and yesterday I ordered a 2gig RAM stick to put in it. With 2 day shipping, we’re hoping it gets here by tomorrow, but with hurricane Sandy coming up the coast, I bet it will delay shipping a day or two. Either way, I should be back
      to my to my regular online routine by the end of the week and I’ll be at your blog and the others I enjoy reading. I am SO glad I started blogging – I have met so many wonderful people and new friends since doing this!

      On a different subject, I’m in northern Maine, very close to the Canadian border. In fact, I’m about 1 mile (in one direction) from N.B and in another direction about 5 miles. I used
      to go to Canada to buy my flour for baking bread, etc. I love Canadian flour!

      Thanks for your visit and I look forward to reading your posts and comments and getting to know you better!

  4. E.C. says:

    There’s not much that smells better than snuggling down in a bed under sheets that’ve been line dried outside in the sunshine. Oh the sweet childhood memories. 🙂
    I’ve never tried using vinegar for fabric softener. That’s a handy hint to know.
    I admire you for being so green. Way to go. 🙂

    • We’re definitely on the same wavelength there, I have always said that about bedding dried outside! I think it makes me sleep better, I really do. Smelling that outdoor freshness – there is no comparison with something coming out of a dryer.

      I appreciate your comment of “admire you for being so green”, but really I’m just starting down this path. I’m learning a lot as I go – mostly from other bloggers – and have found the blogging community very knowledgeable about so many things. I’m glad that I can help someone else, as I have been helped.

      I’m glad you stopped by and I’ll be over to your blog again soon, as I explained in the comment reply above, things should be back to normal around here soon. Wait a minute, what IS normal? LOL!

      Have a great week E.C.!

  5. runtspickins says:

    Hellllloooooooo. Where have you gone? I hope you’re all right!!!

    • Hi Runt! I just turned on my ‘puter and saw this, lol. If I told you everything I’d been busy with, you’d have to take a nap right there at work, ha ha! I’m just starting a new post, actually. Yes, I’m fine but have been busy with cooking all day Wednesday and then yesterday someone took me shopping (remember I’d been waiting for yesterday for the sale that started to pick up hubby’s new monitor?). As of today, just been cleaning around the house and thinking about today’s post. How are you doing?

      • runtspickins says:

        Hey there! I am doing good! Today was actually a busy day here at work! I am getting ready to leave in a couple of minutes but I will try to find that comment about Pinterest! If I can’t find it then I will just write it up again, no problem! So there is this rummage sale that one of the counties here where I live does annually and I’ve never been before but I am going tomorrow and I’m really excited! I’ll tell you more about it after I go. =]

        • You were busy at work? LOL, just messing with you! I see you found that pinterest comment, thanks SO much! omg, I love yard sales, garage sales, any kind of sale. I hope you find something good – errrr maybe I should say “lots of things”. You’ll have to let me know what you find – never can pass up a good bargain!

          • runtspickins says:

            Yes, busy at work = crazy. I love yard sales too! I think I love them more than thrift stores because people are normally more willing to just get rid of their stuff! Okay so let me tell you about the rummage sale. Unfortunately, it was tiny. My neighbor that I went with had gone last year when it was at another location and she told me that they had spent about three hours there! They even bought a stroller just to throw all of their stuff in because they didn’t bring bags!! She said this years (the one we went to) was probably a quarter of the size. So it was kind of a bummer and we were really only there for maybe thirty minutes, but oh well! I got a couple of frames for a dollar each which I am happy about because I really need some frames. One is a oil rubbed bronze look which is perfect for my house and the other is silver with some scrollwork design but I think I will spray paint it. =] I also got this little silver vase that I will probably spray paint white and then put some branches and in it for my Winter mantle. I wasn’t going to get it but for ten cents I couldn’t pass it up! We did try to find some yard sales in the area after that but we didn’t have any luck. Then we headed to have lunch with some of my neighbor’s friends. Then we headed to Target and I got these two spiral notebooks for $.47 each. One has an owl and one has a tree and I thought they were super cute because you can color on them! (I know, I’m like twelve. HAHA.) Then we drove up North about thirty minutes so that my neighbor could visit with her mom really quick (she is in the hospital) and I waited in the car. Then we stopped at this place called Estatibles that looked really cool on the outside but was really terrible on the inside – ha! Then we stopped at this Rescue Mission place which is like a gigantic thrift store and spend some time there because it was huuuuge. I did get a thing of wrapping paper with like 100 square feet for fifty cents! Then we went stopped at McD for some food, then went to Ross and I got a pitcher (which was free because I had a gift card). Then we went to BJ’s (like Costco). Then home. We were literally out from 8 AM until 8 PM! I had taken out $40 for the rummage sale and I spent less than $10!

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