Fabric softener helps make clothing and other textiles soft and fresh-smelling, and helps to prevent static cling. Commercial fabric softeners are highly effective for these tasks but also contain chemicals that can cause skin irritation; they're also not environmentally friendly. Homemade vinegar-based fabric softeners add freshness and softness to fabric, while preventing static cling. These "green" fabric softeners also save money.
Vinegar & Essential Oil Fabric Softener
An appealing factors of commercial fabric softeners is the pleasant smell they leave on clothing. When you make your own fabric softener, you can select most any fragrance that appeals to you. A vinegar-based fabric softener with an essential oil in it provides a homemade fabric softener that freshens, softens and adds fragrance to your clothing. A mixture of 1 cup each of baking soda and water are combined with 6 cups white vinegar to form the foundation of your vinegar-based fabric softener. Add 10 to 15 drops of the essential oil of your choice to finish off a gallon of homemade fabric softener. Change essential oils to suit the time of year or your preference.
A Wash Cycle Fabric Softener
If your wash machine doesn't come equipped with a fabric softener dispenser and you have no time to wait around for the rinse cycle to begin, a fabric softener that can be added directly into the wash cycle is the solution. For added convenience, keep a 1/3 cup measuring cup, a box of baking soda and bottle of white vinegar in your laundry room. Once the wash machine is full and you've added the laundry detergent, pour in 1/3 cup each baking soda and white vinegar. The fizzy combination works together to remove odors, soften and fluff up fabric fibers and rid your clothing of static cling.
If the idea of making and mixing your own fabric softener simply isn't appealing, but the idea of increasing the "green" factor in your laundry room is, plain vinegar is the best choice. One cup of white vinegar added to the rinse cycle in your washing machine will deodorize and soften clothing and prevent static cling. Because vinegar is a multipurpose natural cleaner, using vinegar in your rinse cycle also removes mold or mildew spores that cause odors in bath towels and other stinky clothing. Vinegar sets the dye in new clothing that isn't very colorfast. The vinegar smell disappears when the clothing dries.