Sustainable Dharma

Finding Dharma in a Sustainable Lifestyle

Homemade Cleaners: Fabric Softener

I hate harsh chemicals and smells. I tend to use cleaners with no scents added, and honestly just prefer to use homemade ones.

In my house we don’t have a dryer, but we do have a washer. We had a working dryer for about 3 days and then it died. They were gifts and we were warned that the dryer was almost dead so it was no big surprise when it died.

We have clothes drying racks that we set up for laundry. It kinda sucks sometimes, but I remind myself that we are using less electricity. I do miss supper fluffy towels though, and sometimes take the towels to my sister’s house. Well until her dryer died too.

I am thankful for my washer but we realized quickly that fabric softener is not a luxury when you have no dryer. I hate most of the ones in the stores. I have found some unscented eco friendly ones but those are not really cost effective for me.

Did you know:

Vinegar and baking soda are natural fabric softeners?

You can add vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser or baking soda to running water. These do work pretty good too, but I have found if you do this it wears the clothing out faster, and fades them. Also if you mix the two together it is a natural bleach. That is awesome and I use that for my whites.

Since I don’t want my stuff to fade fast or wear out fast I decided that I need to try something else. We used vinegar and baking soda for a year, and I just don’t think my PJs can handle it anymore.

I have tried a few recipes for fabric softeners on the internet, but this is my favorite:


  • 1 cup hair conditioner (I use Suave Naturals)
  • 1 1/2 cups Vinegar
  • 3 cups water

In a big pan I pour in the water, and conditioner. I heat these on a very low temp until it mixes smooth. If the water in your house gets hot enough you might be able to skip the stove, but I find it is not as smooth when you do. Once all the clumps are gone, turn the heat off and add the vinegar. Mix everything well and pour into bottles. I use an old mouthwash bottles and the fabric softener bottle from the last time I paid for it. (To bad I only have one)


  • This will separate over time, so be sure to shake the bottle up every time before you use it.
  • A lot of the recipes online made much larger batches, but I prefer the smaller ones. I don’t have enough room to store 6 gallons of the stuff.
  • As it gets older, it gets thicker. You can add water to the bottle, or add hot water into the fabric softener dispenser with it. I prefer to just add it to the bottle.
  • Commercial brands are mostly water, so be aware that this will be thicker, and you use less! If it helps you can always add more water than the recipe calls for to fit your use. I only use about 1/4 of what store bough brands call for.


Hair Conditioner (.50 a bottle of Suave Naturals Professional with coupons)

Store brand White Vinegar ($1 for the whole bottle)

Final costs: 50 cents .25 cents for conditioner (I use about half a bottle), and .25 cents for 1/4 a bottle of vinegar

I get about a bottle and a half, but really it is more, because I will water it down in about a month.


I am going to test laundry soap recipes too, but I still have a few bottles of laundry soap I got couping to use up before I am even low on it. If you need some laundry soap I recommend reading Which Homemade Laundry Detergent Works Best. I have not tried any yet, but this seems helpful.

What homemade cleaners do you use?


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