Are you tired of the amount of money you spend buying liquid fabric softener?

Well, there’s a solution.  Save money and Make Your Own!

When I started researching how to make fabric softener, I soon discovered that the magic ingredient (once again) is white distilled vinegar, a wonderful ingredient that can be used in lots of money saving ways around the house.  (I especially like vinegar to make my favorite DIY All Purpose Cleaner).  I can buy a gallon of white distilled vinegar for $2.69 which equals about 16 cents per cup of vinegar so it’s a pretty cheap addition to your homemade mixtures.

Only white vinegar should be used for these fabric softener recipes. Apple cider vinegar could make your clothes dingy.  You should also never mix vinegar and bleach which can create toxic fumes, so don’t use these homemade fabric softeners with vinegar in them in a load with bleach.

homemade fabric softener recipes

Here are three frugal recipe ideas that make use of vinegar’s ability to work as a homemade fabric softener.  This first recipe is the one that I’m currently using which is a combination of water, vinegar, and hair conditioner.  There’s no need to use an expensive hair conditioner in this recipe.  Something like Suave hair conditioner in a nice fragrance works great.

#1 – Homemade Fabric Softener With Conditioner


  • 1 Cup Hair Conditioner

  • 3 Cups Hot Water

  • 1-1/2 Cups White Distilled Vinegar

Put the cup of hair conditioner in a large mixing bowl.  Slowly add in the hot water, stirring as you go to get the two mixed together well.  Finally stir in the white vinegar.  Store in a covered container.  Use about 1/4 cup per load or use in a Downy Ball


The second recipe idea is to just simply use straight vinegar.  I’ve also done this and it does in fact work to soften clothes and help eliminate static.  An essential oil can be added to the vinegar for fragrance.

#2 – Using Vinegar as Fabric Softener


  • White Distilled Vinegar

  • Essential Oil (Optional)

To use vinegar as a homemade fabric softener, simply add about 1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar to the rinse cycle, or use in a Downy Ball.  You can also scent the vinegar with your favorite essential oil, using a drop or two per cup of white vinegar.


Finally, I’ve also included a popular homemade fabric softener recipe that combines vinegar and baking soda.  I haven’t used this recipe because frankly, vinegar and baking soda neutralize each other.  That’s what all that fizzing is about. (Here’s a good blog post to read about what happens when you combine vinegar and baking soda).  Nevertheless, many people say they have much success with this recipe so here it is if you want to give it a try.

#3 – Homemade Fabric Softener with Vinegar and Baking Soda


  • 2 Cups Hot Water

  • 1 Cup Baking Soda

  • 1 Cup White Distilled Vinegar

In a bucket stir together the hot water and the baking soda.  Slowly add in the vinegar.  It will fizz and bubble up.  Once it’s all mixed together, store in a covered container and shake before each use. Use about 1/4 cup in the rinse cycle or use in a Downy Ball.


Downty Ball

If you’re not familiar with the little Downy Balls, here’s a picture of the one that I use.  You put your fabric softener in the bottom of the ball, filling it to one of the marked lines on the ball for the size of your load of wash.  Then there’s a little plug on the top that you pull up to close the opening.  You put the Downy ball (with the softener in it) into your load of wash and start the load.  Apparently during the spin cycle, the plug comes loose allowing the softener to come out into the rinse cycle.  It’s a great cheap fix if you don’t have a working automatic dispenser for fabric softener in your washing machine.

Need a few more money saving laundry ideas?  Try making your own Wrinkle Release Spray, making your own Laundry Soap, or making your own Homemade Stain Remover.



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