Homemade Fabric Softener Recipe

Print Friendly
Homemade Fabric Softener Recipe - 5 Homemade Cleaners You Didn’t Know You Could Make at Home

I have finally found a homemade fabric softener recipe that makes fabric softener like the real thing. I know you can use vinegar and I often have but I really like the smell and the extra softness that fabric softeners like Downy give you.

This recipe is also great for those of you who have started using our homemade shampoo recipe and have a bunch of conditioner to use up. With all the new yummy smells they have for shampoos and conditioners now you can have a different fun smelling laundry each week! This homemade fabric softener recipes takes less than 5 minutes to make so you can be using your for your laundry today and the best part is it costs about $.02 per load!

Homemade Fabric Softener

3 cups hot water
1 1/2 cups vinegar
1 cup hair conditioner

Pour the conditioner into the hot water.  Stir (don’t shake) and then add the vinegar. Pour into a gallon container.  Use the same amount of the fabric softener as you would use of the store bought kind or moisten a rag and throw it in the dryer. You can put it in your Downy balls too.

  • I found that the water has to be very hot to dissolve the conditioner. If it doesn’t dissolve just whisk it or warm up the water hotter in the microwave.
  • If you do need to buy conditioner, something like Suave Lavender from the Dollar Tree works just fine.
  • This homemade fabric softener recipe makes a half gallon and if you want to make less, you can easily half the recipe.
  • Yes it does work in HE washers.
  • For sensitive skin, you will just have to use plain vinegar. My son has horrible eczema and I can’t use anything with scents on his clothes, so vinegar it is!



    • says

      Too funny Shannon. We were having trouble figuring the french fry one out but now it makes sense. Don’t worry though usually when you use vinegar to rinse things (clothes, hair) the smell goes away and in this case you are using the conditioner with it so you get a really nice scent. Thanks for coming back and explaining cuz we were confused. : ) : )

  1. melissa says

    LOL @FrenchFries :) And now that’s all I can think of. I have never had my hair smell like vinegar after using as a rinse. Ditto with laundry.

  2. Marlena says

    So I can just put this in my Downy ball and forget about it? If this works, it will change my life! lol

  3. says

    Suave conditioner is a very mild product and added to the vinegar is a great idea as a fabric softener alternative.


    Always trying new “frugal” ideas.

    Patti Graham

  4. Sandra says

    How about homemade hair dye to get rid of the gray? Any idea’s? I like my hair light brown with no red.

    • Karen Baker says

      I use henna from Lush to color my hair. Works much better than store bought and much better for your hair and I have gray to cover too. Will be hard to get light brown but will be medium brown.

  5. Beth says

    Thanks, I have tried the homemade laundary soap but with my son’s sports clothes and towels still have an odor. I still buy fablic softner to help with that odor. I need to save every penny so I can get out of debt.

    • Dennette says

      Hi Beth,

      I found with store bought laundry soap that my sons/husband clothes and towels still stink…much less with homemade. I found that if you add a half cup of ammonia at the beginning of your wash, with your soap (store bought or homemade, takes care of all stinky problems. I couldn’t believe that it works and does not leave an ammonia scent. My son is a bed-wetter and it took the pee/ammonia scent out of his clothes on the first wash!

  6. Felicia says

    I can’t wait to try this. It just kills me to pay for fabric softener and I have used the vinegar and it works great but I miss the smell. I have to smell everything.

    • says

      I’m like you Felicia I love the smell. When ever I think of the smell of my clothes I always remember a young 13 yr. old neighbor girl who came over to my house one day and smelt my clothes and said “Your clothes always smell so wonderful”. Why this meant so much was this girl was the oldest of 8, her mom had left them and her dad was gone most of the time drinking while she took care of the kids. It was like those sweet smelling sheets stood for something she dreamed about having some day – a real home with clean sheets and clean house.

      We don’t always realize how much the little things we do for our family which may not seem important but can mean so much.

  7. Sandi says

    Sandra, when I first started to go gray, my mother asked me if I was going to pull out the few gray hairs. My reply: “I worked really hard for that gray hair, I’m keeping it.” Now I have a lot more of it, and I would also be interested in a safe, homemade color. I used to be a strawberry blond, and now what isn’t silver is dark dishwater blond.

  8. Bea says

    To color brown hair naturally you can use 1 cup dried sage, or 2/3 cups dried sage and 1/3 cup dried rosemary and add 3 cups of water and boil. Then simmer for 20 minutes until liquid turns brownish. Cool and put in clean spray bottle and spritz on hair after washing each time you shampoo. It adds color gradually. Also, strong brewed tea adds color or strong brewed coffee. I’ve done this many times in the past.

    • Nancy says

      About this natural hair dye (sage or tea/coffee), how long does it last? How often does one typically need to do this to keep up the color?
      Thanks for the idea; I’ve been going grey and not ready to embrace it, yet. ;o)

  9. Bea says

    I’m going to make this today using strawberry cream conditioner. I like the smell of strawberries, so this should turn out nice.

  10. KK says

    I have been using the homemade fabric softener for a few weeks. It is a good substitute for the smelly stuff from the store and a lot less expensive.

  11. says

    I tried to make lavender fabric softener. The clothes came out nice and soft, but no smell. I used the correct measurements. Any ideas? I love the concept and plan on making my own detergent this weekend!!

  12. says

    Would I be able to omit the hair conditioner and just use the lavender oil? I have seen quite a few “recipes” for vinegar and essential oils only. Just curious.

    • says

      You could Julie just use the vinegar and essential oils or you could use lavender scent conditioner too. Try the vinegar and oils if you don’t like the amount of softeness (sp) then add the conditioner.
      What it really boils down to it the vinegar rinses all the residue and mineral build up out which can cause the clothes to be dingy and not as soft. The conditioner just coats the fibers and relaxes them a little for more softeness the oils of course just add scent.

  13. Jade says

    I had no idea that vinegar worked as a fabric softener. I’ve been using it in my laundry lately because it can kill every bad smell I’ve encountered in our laundry. My husband’s work clothes had a smell that no amount of washing could get out and it had been driving me nuts! The first load with vinegar, and the smell was gone. It also works for pet smells, which is a huge deal for us as we’re still housetraining our 7 month old Great Dane. (No pun intended. lol)

  14. Mara says

    I just ran out of my Snuggle fabric softener with one load of clothing to go. Ugh…I hate when that happens! So I decided to try to make my own. Thanks for the recipe. It literally took me minutes to whip up. I can’t wait to see how my clothes turn out. Thanks again!

    • says

      Sally you may have to adjust it and add more to your wash. So often it depends on how hard your water is in how these things work. I have in times past used a cup of borax with my softener because borax and that type of thing is really the only thing I have found that helps with super hard water to soften things.

      To be honest we have tons of readers who love this and many of our homemade recipes and use them for different reasons and they work great for them but I personally use regular store bought fabric softener because it works and smells best to me but that is just my personal preference.

    • Suzanne says

      Just an idea – try using distilled water when you mix up your fabric softener. If you use your tap or well water, it will probably contain some minerals, which is what you’re trying to get away from. Using distilled water in the recipes for laundry soap and fabric softener might make the difference – just an educated guess from someone who know just enough chemistry to be dangerous!

  15. Sally says

    Thanks for answering so quicky. I never had a problem when I used regular softener. I just really wanted that to work. I make homemade detergent and I love it. I have ajusted it ,but still not soft. Thanks so much and have a blessed day!

    • says

      I am having same problem, though they are nice and soft there is no smell. I even doubled the conditioner. They come out of washer with soft scent but nothing from dryer. Im not in a living situation right now to hang outside. I am going to try with hanging inside. Totally bummed!

      • says

        If you use homemade fabric softener you need to put in essential oil. I prefer store bought softener because I do get a really nice smell with it and don’t have the expense of essential oil. But this type of recipe will not give you the nice smell you get from store bought. The smell in the conditioner isn’t strong enough by the time it is diluted down with all that water it only helps soften a little.

    • says

      It is a couple 2 cups shy of a half of gallon but for some reason most of the recipes out there say this. I think part of it is that a whole recipe of this mixes easier in a gallon jug and it is close enough they say a gallon or in the case of ours where we halved the recipe a half a gallon.

  16. Linda says

    Thanks so much for posting the recipe for the fabric softener. I will now be able to use fabric softener. I have not been able to before because what you buy at the store ahs fragrances to it and with my C O P D and allergies I could not use them.

  17. Brandi says

    I made it today. I love it. I have been using only vinegar and essential oils but the conditioner really adds a lot of softness.

  18. Julie says

    I borrowed a saver from the Duggar website. If you are using store bought fabric softener you can mix it half and half with water to double your product. You can also take a package of 2 cheap sponges (the kind that don’t have scrub surfaces on them) cut them in half and drop them in your fabric softener. Use them like dryer sheets, just squeeze the excess out and toss in the dryer and dry as usual. This one really stretches a bottle of fabric softener.

    • says

      We aren’t pushing going natural or removing chemicals but how to save money and not waste things. We had people who went poo free and were needing ways to use up some of their conditioners.

  19. Julia says

    I love this recipe! It isn’t as heavy of a softner as Downey so I can use it on my towels to soften them up a bit without the heavy coating that some store bought softners leave. I use VO5 Vanilla Mint Tea condition which leaves a light spa-like scent.

  20. Deanna Taylor says

    Thank you will try this and the laundry soap recipe. i will try scenting it with rose and orange blossom water.

    I recently started to make my own scented ironing spray. I add 1 cap full of rose water and 1 cap full of orange blossom water to my ironing water bottle. I buy the rose and orange water in the grocery store ethnic food aisle -here they are 2.99 a bottle and it comes in a pretty clear glass bottle which I plan to reuse. The brand I use is Sadaf. I keep the bottles in my refrigerator for a quick cool cologne splash on hot days.

  21. barbara says

    Does anyone know how to get the dead smell out of washer. I’ve. Tried letting it dry out after using it. And bleach doesn’t seem to work. Thanks.P

    • says

      I think some people have used vinegar or borax. If you really get desperate you can buy special products that are made for cleaning a wash machine although usually what they are mostly made of is what is called washing soda which you can find by the laundry detergent area (by borax). You might check the price because I think washing soda will be a little cheaper then the special washing machine stuff.

  22. Denise Holtz says

    I saw online one time that if you take fabric softener, soak scrap bits of cloth and let them totally dry you can use them instead of dryer sheets. This works. I haven’t bought fabric softener or dryer sheets in a year. I soak a batch at a time, hang them ( on an old upturned umbrella skeleton) and let them totally dry. Then I store them in a cloth bag. I use the same one several times before I put it aside to soak again. Each time my laundry comes out soft, static free and smelling wonderful.

  23. Julia says

    Your newsletter and videos are very interesting and very well done! Thanks so much for all you do to help us all save money!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

1 + nine =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>