Making your own fabric softener is as easy as mixing 3 ingredients – probably items you have in your pantry right now.
As I have stated in previous posts, over the years, I have constantly been on the lookout for ways to save money and make my own. In doing laundry, I seemed to have quite a few items I could make that would help me save money. I mean – really – have you looked at items in the laundry products aisle at the grocery store lately? Some of the name brands are CRAZY high. And when you read what’s in them – I don’t know about you, but I can’t pronounce half of them.
When money was (and sometimes still is!) tight, I would make my own …. whatever. I haven’t always used fabric softener, but I did like how my clothes felt and smelled when I did. So I started making it more often, and pretty soon, it was a habit. At least it was a cheap and easy habit, right?
I will admit I did have times where I fell off the wagon – had a great coupon, didn’t want to take the two extra steps to mix up a homemade version, got a couple of bottles of name brand softener for Christmas (yep, that has happened several times!). However, if I want to use fabric softener, I always return to my homemade version. I know what it has in it, it’s easy to make, and I could use the money for other things.
As a comparison, this recipe makes 64 ounces of fabric softener – 1/2 gallon. I’ve put it into a pitcher I found at a thrift store. It’s an old Rubbermaid pitcher and works perfectly. If you get 64 ounces of Downy, it can range from $5 to $6. In the past, one bottle of store bought softener would last a week. That means you could save around $300 a year. Doesn’t seem like much but it could help pay on debt, buy groceries or even gas for the car.
So let’s get to it!
HOMEMADE FABRIC SOFTENER
You will need:
- 2 cups of baking soda
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 4 cups water
- Essential oils (optional) – I like coordinating them with the scents I use on my dryer sheets and my wool dryer balls
All you have to do is take your pitcher and pour in the water.
Then add the vinegar and baking soda. (Or baking soda then vinegar – I did not try this way – see below!)
Now – here is another true confession! I put the water in first, then the vinegar, then the baking soda. I did, somewhere in the back of my mind, think “I need to be careful because there could be a reaction to the baking soda from the vinegar.” However, the next thought I had was “Well, it will be diluted, so nothing will happen.”
Allow me to tell you this isn’t true. You can see in the first picture there is no towel under the pitcher. In the next picture there is. This is because – ummmm – yep, there WAS a reaction LOL. It went EVERYWHERE. I actually had to add a little more water and vinegar because so much bubbled out. I did, however, notice as more baking soda was added, there was less of a reaction. So I say, in the voice of experience, be very, very careful adding the ingredients, no matter the order. Have towels handy just in case!
Stir all ingredients together. If you want to add essential oils, you can do so here. I like using citrus scents – lemon, orange, lime – but you can use whatever you like – lavender, vanilla, etc. Some recipes that I have seen using similar ingredients say use 10 drops of oils, or 15, or whatever. I say – use what you want. Put in enough drops of whatever essential oil you choose until it reaches the level of scent you desire.
As you can see from this picture, as the softener sat for a while, the baking soda settled to the bottom. Once I picked it up and shook it, it mixed back together quickly, so my suggestion would be to shake well before adding to the washer.
All you have to do to use it is either put in the amount of softener you want to use (probably 1/2 cup to 1 cup) either at the beginning as the water is filling the washer, or later during the rinse cycle. It will help soften your clothes and leave them smelling great. And, not only did you do it yourself, you made it for a fraction of the cost.
Another side note – having used this down to the bottom, I found that the scent of the oils was MUCH stronger at the end, so shaking it well with each use is important. When I previously made this a couple years ago, I didn’t use the essential oils so I did not notice this point until making the fabric softener this time.
I label my pitcher so no one mistakes this for anything other than what is in it. Of course, I guess you COULD drink it – there is nothing bad in it – but I shudder to think what it would taste like – EWWWWWW.
Just to throw this out there – years ago, I made a version of fabric softener with hair conditioner. I looked everywhere for my recipe, but I’m sure it was lost in one of my many moves. I searched on the internet for a similar recipe and found it here at happymoneysaver.com. Her recipe was very similar to the one I used. I want to share it with you so you can make a decision about which you’d like to try.
HOMEMADE FABRIC SOFTENER WITH CONDITIONER
You will need:
- 5 cups hot water
- 3 cups vinegar
- 1 cup hair conditioner
Making this is similar to the above. You mix hot water and conditioner together in medium bowl. (The hot water helps smooth any clumps from the conditioner). Mix in vinegar and pour in container of choice. There is a little more liquid in this version, so I’d suggest using a gallon container.
Use the same amount of this fabric softener as you would a store bought softener. You can either put it in the special compartment for softener in your washer or add during the rinse cycle. On her site, Karrie at happymoneysaver.com mentions she uses cheap conditioner, and she’s right. When I made this, I used whatever was a dollar or less for a huge bottle. It worked just fine. The only thing I did was to make sure I liked the way it smelled. The conditioner is what makes the softener smell good, and in turn, makes your clothes smell good.
For me, both softeners worked well, and both smell good, especially if I put enough essential oils in the baking soda version. The vinegar/baking soda combination was quick and easy to make and I always have those ingredients on hand so I can mix it up in no time flat. The conditioner softener takes a little more time to mix and I don’t always have extra conditioner to use. It does seem to last a little longer than the other mixture – but I chalked that up to more liquid in the conditioner version (8 cups liquid in the conditioner version versus 6 cups in the baking soda version).
So there ya have it – 2 versions of fabric softener that you can make quickly and save yourself some money in the process. I’d love to hear your results in the comments below. Let me know if you try either version and how it works for you.
Until next time!