Store bought fabric softeners are designed to reduce static in synthetic fabrics. They serve no purpose with natural fabrics. Fabric softeners work by leaving a residue on the fabric which never completely washes out. It can cause allergic reactions through skin contact and inhalation. Fabric softeners may also contain carcinogenic coal-tar dyes, ammonia and very strong scents. When fabric softeners are exposed to hot water, heat from dryers or ironing, vapors may be emitted which can be deeply inhaled, increasing their impact.- Guide to Less Toxic Products
When I stopped using fabric softener, this strange rash I used to get on my leg went away. Other people I know have had breathing ailments alieviated and one person who suffered from nightly nosebleeds had them stop completely after cutting out fabric softener altogether. I tell anyone with excema or asthma to stop using store brand fabric softener immediately, since it’s known to aggravate both ailments. It’s incredibly easy to make your own, (not to mention cheaper) and much healthier too! Here’s few versions that I’ve tried:
Basic DIY Fabric Softener
Simply add 1/2 cup of white vinegar at the START of the rinse cycle when washing clothes
Lavender Fresh Fabric Softener
- add 20 drops of lavender essential oil to 1 gallon of white vinegar
- add 1/2 cup at the START of the rinse cycle when washing clothes
Lemony Fabric Softener* (this one makes your clothes really soft)
- 6 cups of white vinegar
- 1 cup of baking soda
- 1 cup water
- 15 drops of lemongrass essential oil (optional)
- bottle or container with screw top to hold mixture
- Get a large pot or mixing bowl and pour the vinegar and water in.
- Next add the baking soda a little at a time, (because it’s going to bubble up like a 5th grade paper-maché volcano).
- When all of the baking soda is added to the vinegar and has settled, stir it a bit so that the majority of the baking soda dissolves.
- Then pour the vinegar into the container and add the essential oil
- Shake before use
- Add 1/2 cup at the START of the rinse cycle when washing clothes
DO NOT use Apple Cider Vinegar in any of the above recipes, it will stain your clothes! (save it for your hair).
Note: The clothes will smell really lemony when they come out of the washer, but after they dry, either in the dryer or on the line, the scent fades a bit.
*This recipe is from The Naturally Clean Home, by Karyn Siegel-Maier