Both liquid fabric softeners and fabric softener sheets contain chemicals that many people wish to avoid. Liquid fabric softeners rinse into the water system and fabric softener sheets contain waxes that build up in your dryer and in your clothing. When you first decide to move away from using fabric softeners, it can seem that no alternatives are available, but this is not the case.
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Add 1/4 cup of baking soda to your laundry during the rinse cycle to replace chemical fabric softeners. You can also add the baking soda to the initial wash cycle with your regular laundry detergent. If you add it at the beginning of the wash cycle, baking soda's natural cleaning properties act as a detergent booster. Added to the rinse cycle, baking soda softens and deodorizes your laundry.
White vinegar may sound like the last scent you want to add to your clean laundry, but the smell dissipates completely by the end of the cycle. Add from 1/4 to 1/2 cup of white vinegar during your washer's rinse cycle. Much like baking soda, white vinegar deodorizes and softens your laundry.
If you can stand the noise they cause, add three or four tennis balls to your dryer with your damp laundry. The tennis balls not only soften your fabrics, but they reduce static cling as well. Commercially developed dryer balls are available, but some are made with questionable plastics that you may not want to have rolling around in your clothing. Tennis balls are inexpensive and last through hundreds of loads of laundry.
If you no longer want to use any additives in your laundry, consider gradually changing your clothing over to more natural fabrics. Synthetic fibers and fabrics are more prone to developing static cling and require more fabric softener in order to feel clean and soft after washing. Organic cotton and other natural fabrics are becoming more popular and are therefore coming down in price. If you replace your clothing gradually as it wears out, you will not have to deal with a large investment.