Is it Worth it?: DIY Fabric Softener


January 31, 2013 by CassieCravings

Last week, mamacravings’ new series “Is it Worth it?” was introduced. I dove into the DIY of making laundry soap. Come to find out: it was easy, economical, more natural and a fun activity for the family. I have said, “Goodbye” to my store-bought laundry detergent and am on to my next DIY endeavor.

To go with my laundry soap, I want to try making my own fabric softener. Being a mom with a teaching career (at two different schools), I am curious to see if I can seamlessly throw DIY fabric softener into my new crafty adventures.

A quick search of “how-to” blogs left me speechless. Fabric Softener is even easier to make than laundry soap. I am trying not to jump to worth it conclusions, but this seems pretty promising!

Materials needed

Softener 1

*a spray bottle

* plain ole’ vinegar


* essential oils (if desired)


* In your spray bottle, pour 1 part of vinegar to 3 parts of water.

* If you have them on hand, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil (just enough to your satisfy your scent preferences).

As Eli would say, “TaDAA!”. That’s it.

How to use

fabric softener2

When you’re ready to use your fabric softener, simply mist your wet clothes with 5 sprays as soon as you put them into the dryer.

Is it Worth it? 

How well does it work?  My clothes were soft and free of static. The next time that my mother-in-law used the fabric softener, she wasn’t as satisfied with some static being left in the clothes. Next time, she is going to try a couple of more sprays to see if that remedies her issue with static cling.

Does it smell like vinegar?  The heat from the dryer kills the vinegar scent. If you are not using essential oils, then there will not be a scent from the fabric softener. If you use essential oils, then it will smell like that particular oil. For example, I used lavender.

What does it cost? The vinegar costs less than $2 for a large bottle. I didn’t even make a dent in how much I used. So, 1 batch of fabric softener cost a few pennies.

Is it worth it?  This took less than a minute to throw together. I was really satisfied with how it works and smells. And it cost a fraction of store-bought fabric softener. Is it worth it? I give this a definite YES!

**Do you have any requests for the worth it series? Let me know, and I will be glad to try them out.

Craving more? Have you liked mamacravings’ fb page or followed on twitter?


31 thoughts on “Is it Worth it?: DIY Fabric Softener

  1. Keri says:

    Thanks, Mama! Super easy, and saves money! 🙂

  2. cool series loving it 🙂

  3. sparkmama says:

    I haven’t seen this recipe in all my pinterest ventures – I might have to try this at some point. We currently use the plastic dryer balls and have found that I can’t tell the difference between how soft/static free my clothes are now vs when we used dryer sheets. We’ve had the same dryer balls for probably 4-5 years now, and are still going strong!

    The down side is that you don’t get the same “laundry smell” you get with dryer sheets or essential oils of course, though I have seen do-it-yourself wool balls that you can add essential oil to.

    • mamacravings says:

      Ooh! That’s interesting. I haven’t seen the DIY wool dryer balls. That might be more of my mother-in-law’s preference. I will look into that.

      I had not seen this either. I thought it was really interesting and SO easy 🙂

  4. more like this, please!

  5. This is so useful and I hadn’t seen anyone else posting this before. Thank you! We also use the dryer balls. I read that some people had issues with potential toxins from the heated plastic, but I hadn’t yet gotten around to trying wool balls yet. This is so much more convenient for me.

    • mamacravings says:

      I want to try the wool balls….maybe that can be my next project. hmmmm.

      I found this idea buried in comments on another blog. I tried to fish it back up and haven’t found it again :/

  6. Mama Carmody says:

    Thank you for finding this recipe and sharing it. I had found one that used store-bought hair conditioner to make the fabric softner. Since I was trying to get away from the chemicals in prepackaged stuff I wasn’t impressed with that recipe…however your recipe looks wonderful! I just pinned it on my DIY Pinterest board.

    • mamacravings says:

      Thank you! I really wish I could find where I found this originally. It was just a comment in someone’s DIY laundry soap post…but I couldn’t pass up trying something so simple!

      I’m trying to get away from chemicals as much as possible as well. It’s easier on my little one’s skin and better for all of us all around.

  7. homeinawoods says:

    I use vinegar all of the time, but I never thought about adding essential oils! Thanks.

  8. haymcdee says:

    This recipe is great! Way better than some other softener recipes I’ve seen. We don’t use your average store-bought laundry products anymore because there is a ton of wax in them. It totally takes years of life off of your machines and doesn’t let your clothes last as long. We also cloth diaper our baby, and you have to be very careful what products you use so your diapers don’t get build up. I think this sounds like the safest, most natural alternative to dryer sheets – and your still able to get a yummy fresh laundry scent with essential oils. I think I might try some oils from the Body Shop (satsuma for summer… yum!)

    • mamacravings says:

      I am currently using lavender in my DIY Fabric softener, but I am going to throw some lemon in there for added germ fighting, especially with it being sicky season.

      We paper-diapered our son. But one day when we have another, I am determined to cloth diaper. I will look to you for tips and help 🙂

  9. Mel says:

    Sounds good, except I’m allergic to vinegar lol. It’s almost line-drying time anyways 🙂 I assume this would also work to dry outside?

    • mamacravings says:

      Oh my! I’ve never known of anyone allergic to vinegar. What a bummer!

      I don’t know if this would work for outside as well. The heat of the dryer “kills” the vinegar smell but also adds to the softness. Drying outside provides such a distinct texture and smell, I’ve never tried to add fabric softener to it.

      Line-drying, veggie garden planting time is my very favorite time of year 🙂

      • Mel says:

        Oddly allergic to anything acidic. I get to start a whole-new, much bigger garden soon. (new house) I look forward to seeing your garden, as well as you seeing mine here.

      • mamacravings says:

        We recently bought a house as well and have planted our very first garden. I am excited to watch both of our gardens grow 🙂

  10. […] 1. 3 tbsp of fabric softener (DIY recipe is here.) […]

  11. sitacarolina says:

    Hmm… if I don’t use a dryer (I dry my clothes out in the sun) This wouldn’t be a good DIY?

    Lifestyle & Mix:

    • mamacravings says:

      The heat “kills” the vinegar smell. However, the heat from the sun might also get rid of that lingering vinegar.

    • Mama Carmody says:

      I would try it. I would think that it would work well in the sun too. We use a vinegar hair rinse and our hair doesn’t smell like vinegar so I would think that your clothes wouldn’t smell like vinegar either.

  12. Xara says:

    I can not wait to try this! I will be pinning this as well as making going to the dollar store to get a spray bottle my second errand to do in the morning! I read another blog that had DIY dryer sheets that used 3-5 drops of essential oils on a 5×5 cloth each dryer cycle. That can be expensive with the essential oils. I like your idea MUCH better!

    • mamacravings says:

      I’ve used this for a while now and LOVE it! It’s not as good about static cling as the dryer sheets, but I always preferred the liquid softener anyway, so this was just fine.


  13. Melissa says:

    Thanks so much for this recipe!

    One tip for static cling that I have used and love is tin foil rolled up in little balls (another trick I got from the world wide web!) and it seems to work well.

    I just pour vinegar into the fabric softener section of my washing machine, then when I put the clothes in the dryer, I put in the foil balls. I will say though that it works better on cotton and non-synthetics than it does on say nylon or polyester. So the vinegar softens and the foil deals with the static. I use as many balls as it takes to deal with the static.

    Incidentally, when I take things out of the washing machine that have to be hung to dry (cannot go in the dryer), even though they may have a lingering smell of vinegar when coming out of the wash, once they dry completely, they have NEVER continued smelling of vinegar. Also, when I clean surfaces with vinegar and water, the smell evaporates over time.

    I have also added essential oils directly to a small bottle of vinegar (without watering it down) and then added that to the fabric softener section of my washer and that works good as well.

    • mamacravings says:

      Oh that’s great!! thanks for the tips! I love EOs in my fabric softener. I frequently add lemon during sickly months.

      I also add EOS and vinegar to my steam mop and LOVE it! The heat kills that vinegar smell in the steam mop as well. So, my floors are extra, extra clean 🙂

  14. Shelley says:

    You can get rid of static by simply affixing a safety pin to an item in the dryer. I usually put it on a towel or sock.

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