How to Make a DIY Fabric Softener With Household Materials

Making your own fabric softener at home is easy, affordable, and environmentally friendly. With just a few simple ingredients found around the house, you can whip up a batch of homemade fabric softener that will leave your clothes feeling soft, fresh, and static-free. Follow this step-by-step guide to learn how to make a DIY fabric softener with common household items.

Benefits of Homemade Fabric Softeners

There are many advantages to making your own DIY fabric softener rather than buying store-bought brands:

  • Cost savings – Homemade fabric softeners can cost a fraction of the price of commercial products. With just a few inexpensive ingredients, you can make enough fabric softener to last for months.
  • Customizable scent – You can customize the scent of your homemade fabric softener by adding your favorite essential oils. Choose light floral, invigorating citrus, fresh linen or other scents.
  • Softer fabrics – DIY fabric softeners are effective at softening fabrics and preventing static cling. You can add extra softeners like hair conditioner for even softer results.
  • Safer ingredients – Making your own allows you to avoid unwanted chemicals found in many store-bought fabric softeners. Use natural ingredients like vinegar, essential oils and soap nuts instead.
  • Eco-friendly – Homemade fabric softeners are biodegradable and better for the environment than single-use commercial products. Reuse containers to reduce waste.

Supplies Needed

Making homemade fabric softener is simple because you likely already have most, if not all, of the ingredients at home. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Base liquid – Distilled white vinegar or vodka work best as the liquid base. Avoid using tap water which can promote mold growth.
  • Softening agents – Choose from hair conditioner, baking soda, Epsom salts or soap nuts to soften fabrics.
  • Scents – Essential oils like lavender, lemon or orange add natural fragrance. Extracts and scented soaps can also be used.
  • Containers – You’ll need containers for mixing and storing. Mason jars, plastic jugs or reused vinegar bottles all work well.
  • Funnel – A funnel helps pour the liquid into storage containers without spilling.
  • Strainer – Use to remove soap nuts or other unwanted solids after infusing.
  • Labels – Label your containers so you know what’s inside. Get creative!

Fabric Softener Ingredients and Ratios

There are many different ingredient options and ratios you can use to make fabric softener. Start with a base recipe and customize it to your preferences.

Basic Fabric Softener Recipe

  • 2 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons hair conditioner or liquid soap
  • 10-15 drops essential oil (for fragrance)

Alternative Base Liquids

  • Distilled or boiled water
  • Vodka or rubbing alcohol
  • Coconut milk

Extra Softening Boosters

  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup Epsom salts
  • Up to 1/4 cup hair conditioner

Scenting Options

  • 5-15 drops essential oils like lavender, lemon, peppermint
  • 2 tablespoons scented liquid soap or shampoo
  • 1-2 tablespoons scented oil like jasmine or rose

Eco-Friendly Softening Agents

  • Up to 1/4 cup soap nuts, strained out after infusing
  • 2 tablespoons washing soda
  • Liquid castile soap

Always shake your homemade fabric softener well before each use to combine the ingredients. Store in an airtight container and it will last for up to 6 months.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Follow these simple steps to make your own DIY fabric softener with common household items:

1. Gather Your Ingredients and Supplies

Grab your base liquid, softening agents, and fragrance items. You’ll also need a large mixing bowl, a whisk, funnel, storage containers, strainer, and labels.

2. Prepare the Base Liquid

Pour 2 cups of your chosen base liquid like distilled white vinegar or vodka into a mixing bowl.

3. Add Softening Agents

Add your desired softening ingredients to the base liquid. Start with 2 tablespoons of hair conditioner, Epsom salts or baking soda. Add more 1 tablespoon at a time if a stronger softener is desired.

4. Mix in Fragrance

Add 10-15 drops of essential oils or another scent of your choice. Start with less and add more a few drops at a time until your desired fragrance level is reached.

5. Whisk Together

Use the whisk to thoroughly blend all ingredients together into an homogeneous solution.

6. Funnel into Storage Containers

Use a funnel to pour your homemade fabric softener into its storage containers, like Mason jars or recycled vinegar bottles.

7. Label Containers

Clearly label your containers with the contents and date so you know what’s inside. Decorative labeling is also fun!

8. Remove Any Solid Ingredients

If using soap nuts or washing soda, let them infuse for at least 2 hours then strain out the solids using a mesh sieve or cheesecloth.

Your DIY fabric softener is now ready to use! Follow the instructions below for best results.

How to Use Homemade Fabric Softener

Using your homemade fabric softener is easy. Here are some tips:

  • Use 1⁄4 cup per laundry load in the rinse cycle or final rinse if you have a high efficiency washer.
  • Dispense into the washing machine drum at the start of the rinse cycle so it distributes evenly.
  • Shake the bottle before each use as ingredients can settle.
  • For hand washed garments, add a few tablespoons to the rinse water.
  • Use within 6 months for best results and freshest scent. Shake monthly.
  • Store at room temperature away from direct sunlight to extend shelf life.

Your clothes will come out of the wash static-free, fresh smelling, and oh-so-soft! With your homemade fabric softener, you’ll save money while pampering your fabrics.

Tips for Making the Best Homemade Fabric Softener

Follow these tips and tricks to make your own DIY fabric softener like a pro:

  • Use distilled white vinegar as the base for an effective, odorless product. Or try diluted rubbing alcohol or vodka for a strong softening effect.
  • Soften hard water by adding a pinch of citric acid or borax to the mix.
  • Boost softening power with extra conditioner, hair gel, or cucumber puree.
  • Use scented oils like jasmine, rose, sandalwood, etc. for a more luxurious fragrance.
  • Add a tablespoon of hair gel or glycerin for ultra soft, static-free fabrics.
  • Customize with your favorite essential oil blends – try lavender-lemon-rosemary or vanilla-orange-cinnamon.
  • Reuse emptied vinegar, shampoo, or conditioner bottles to store your finished product.
  • Make large batches and share with family and friends – homemade fabric softener also makes a great gift!
  • Shake the bottle before each use to redistribute any settled ingredients.
  • Test on an inconspicuous area first if using on delicate fabrics like silk or satin.

With a few simple ingredients and recipes, you can create custom fabric softeners to care for all your laundry.

Why Homemade Fabric Softeners Work

You may be wondering why a simple homemade solution using household staples actually works to soften fabrics. Here’s the science behind it:

  • Vinegar – Contains acetic acid which helps break apart residue, dirt, and minerals that cause stiffness. Its acidity also balances the alkalinity of detergents.
  • Conditioner – Coats individual fibers to make them smoother and less prone to tangling and static buildup. Also helps retain moisture.
  • Baking soda – Attaches to odor molecules and helps lift dirt while boosting softness.
  • Epsom salts – The magnesium in the salts acts as a natural fabric softener and static reducer.
  • Soap nuts – Contain natural saponins that act as gentle cleansers to bind to hard minerals and wash them away.
  • Essential oils – Their antistatic compounds help reduce static. Oils also coat fibers for increased softness and scent.

Using the right combinations of these ingredients allows your homemade fabric softener to dissolve soap residue, coat fibers, neutralize static, and leave a fresh scent – all for a fraction of the cost of commercial products!

Common Questions About DIY Fabric Softeners

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about making and using homemade fabric softeners:

Is homemade fabric softener as effective as store-bought brands?

Yes! DIY fabric softeners, when made with the right ingredients, can be just as effective at softening, reducing static, and scenting clothes as commercial products. The key is using ingredients like conditioner, vinegar, and oils to naturally soften.

Does homemade fabric softener clean or sanitize laundry?

No. Fabric softener is not meant to clean or disinfect laundry. It should be used in addition to regular laundry detergent and only during the rinse cycle. The softening ingredients coat the fibers but do not kill germs or deeply clean.

Can you use homemade fabric softener with a high efficiency (HE) washer?

Yes, as long as you follow the proper usage instructions for your HE washer. Only add homemade softener during the final rinse cycle so it doesn’t interfere with the detergent. Start with 1⁄4 cup or less. Vinegar-based softeners are ideal for HE washers.

How long does homemade fabric softener last?

It has a shelf life of 4-6 months when stored properly in an airtight container at room temperature. Over time, the scent may fade but the softening ability remains. Give your batch a little shake before each use.

Is homemade fabric softener safe for baby clothes?

Yes, fabric softener made from natural ingredients like vinegar, coconut oil and essential oils is gentle and non-toxic enough for most baby items. Avoid detergent-based softeners. Test on a small area first.

Can I use homemade fabric softener if I have sensitive skin?

It should be safe for most skin types since homemade softeners use mild, natural ingredients. Start with vinegar, water or alcohol bases, avoid detergents, and skip strong scents. Do a patch test to check for irritation.

DIY Fabric Softener Recipes

Now that you know the basics, try out these easy homemade fabric softener recipes:

Orange Zest Softener

  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1⁄4 cup baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon orange extract
  • 15 drops sweet orange essential oil

Lavender Vanilla Softener

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons Epsom salts
  • 2 tablespoons hair conditioner
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 20 drops lavender essential oil

Blue Skies Softener

  • 2 cups vodka
  • 1⁄4 cup hair gel
  • 20 drops lemongrass essential oil
  • 10 drops eucalyptus essential oil

Spring Fresh Softener

  • 2 cups distilled water
  • 1⁄4 cup liquid castile soap
  • 1 tablespoon hair conditioner
  • 15 drops lemon essential oil
  • 10 drops thyme essential oil

Clean Cotton Softener

  • 2 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons glycerin
  • 15 drops geranium essential oil
  • 10 drops bergamot essential oil

With so many options for homemade fabric softeners, you can find the perfect recipe for your needs and laundry loads. Make batches in different scents for variety.

Final Thoughts

Making your own fabric softener at home is an easy DIY project with major rewards. You’ll save money, avoid chemicals, and enjoy total control over the formula and fragrance.

Be sure to use softening agents like conditioner, Epsom salts or baking soda along with natural scents. Follow simple recipes or get creative with your own custom blends. With just a few common household items, you can make fabric softener that rivals store-bought brands.

Your clothes will come out soft, fluffy, static-free, and lightly scented – all while being gentler on your wallet and the environment. Why buy fabric softener again when you can easily make it yourself using ingredients in your pantry? Start experimenting with DIY formulas today!