What Can I Use Instead of Fabric Softener? (6 Safe Options)

There used to be a time when there was no such thing as a fabric softener. That spared the people a lot of chemical additives and they led healthy lives. Now after years of fabric softener use, people are looking for chemical-free alternatives and returning to time thought long lost.

What can I use instead of fabric softener? One option is to simply air-dry your clothes. This can be a bit tricky when you do not have a yard and your apartment is not that large. Another option is to use vinegar and soak a cloth in the liquid. Then place the cloth in your dryer.

Those are just 2 of the many alternatives you have available when you want to get away from fabric softener. To find about the rest just continue to read our article. It is filled with the information you want to get back to a healthier chemical-free lifestyle.

What Can I Use if I Don't Have Fabric Softener?

If you have run out of fabric softener you can always turn to that multi-talented baking soda to fill in as a good replacement. 1/2 a cup in the wash before you throw in your clothes is all that it takes to get your clothes soft. Just let the baking soda dissolve first.

It is a chemical-free alternative that helps keep your family safe from different diseases. The chemicals found in many fabric softeners may get your clothes soft and smelling fresh but that is not the extent of their powers.

Some of those chemicals can cause cancer, respiratory illnesses, nerve system problems to just name a few. Maybe after reading this article you may rethink your clothes softening strategy and opt for natural solutions instead.

Vinegar Instead of Fabric Softener


As has already been mentioned this is a good alternative to fabric softener. It doesn’t take much vinegar to get the job done and you may save a little money over the long run. Vinegar comes in large quantities as well so you don’t have to run out.

You can spray a little vinegar on some wet clothes before tossing them into the dryer and when the cycle is done, you shouldn’t smell any of the vinegar. If your clothes have been bleached it may not be a good idea to use this fabric softener replacement.

Bleach and vinegar combined to form a toxic gas when combined. So keep track of which clothes have been bleached and which ones haven’t then use a different alternative on the former group.

Is White Vinegar a Good Fabric Softener?

It will do the trick for you. Just use 1/4 of a cup and place the vinegar in the fabric dispenser or the fabric ball. Then let the liquid do its job. Plus it doe sore than just soften clothes.

It can keep your washer smelling nice and clean as well as remove lint from dark clothes. Some people say you should use 3/4 cup of vinegar but that amount is normally reserved for large loads.

The fact that vinegar is cheap you can save some of the money in your laundry budget and use it to buy new clothes or a new washing machine. There is one drawback as one user said that when they used vinegar as a fabric softener her clothes got little holes in them.

You may or may not have the same result.

Will My Clothes Smell Like Vinegar?


Normally this is not the case. Most users have reported that their clothes have not smelled like vinegar when they are taken out of the dryer. One person has mentioned that her clothes did but she may have put the vinegar in the wrong machine or added too much of that liquid.

You should be careful about the amount you use as too much vinegar may overpower the water and remain in the clothes. But that may be a rare incident. Vinegar helps get rid of any soap residue as well.

With that added power, your clothes should look and feel a lot better. Then animal fur does not stick to clothes when vinegar is employed to soften them. There are a lot of extra benefits when you use vinegar in your wash.

How Much Vinegar

This will depend on the size of your load. One person said that for large loads, you should use about 3/4 cup. Smaller loads should use about 1/4 cup. You should do a few tests first to make sure you do not add too much in at one time.

One person said that they soaked a small cloth in vinegar but she put it in the dryer instead of the washing machine. Her clothes came out smelling like vinegar but not too much of an odor.

Her solution was to simply spray a little on some wet clothes, then dry them in the dryer. This is really a trial and error measurement as not all clothes will react the same way to the additive. But as we mentioned earlier, do not use vinegar when you are using bleach in the wash load.

Detergent Instead of Fabric Softener


Laundry detergent is not a good substitute for fabric softener. Even the kind that says it has fabric softener combined in the detergent. That is because both products have different chemical characteristics and when combined, work against each other.

The two products are not the same as laundry soap is looked upon as hair shampoo and fabric softener as a hair conditioner. One will do the cleaning while the other does the conditioning and softening.

The two rarely meet and combine to do a great single task. If you want to use laundry soap as a fabric softener then you may want to simply air-dry your clothes and let the air handle the softening part of the process. Let the non-laundry soap fabric softener alternatives handle the clothes softening portion of your laundry.

Baking Soda Instead of Fabric Softener

This kitchen product is also a very good replacement for fabric softener. The key to its use is to make sure it dissolves completely in the water or you may be left with a white powdery stain when the was is done.

The amount you need to use is about 1/2 and most people place it in the rinse cycle. Others have used in the wash cycle dissolving it completely before adding in their clothes. How you use it is up to you and the amount of laundry you do in each load.

Also, baking soda costs only about 11/2 cents to 3 cents per load whereas fabric softener can run you between 4 cents and 11 cents per load. Vinegar will run you between 3 and 11 cents per load depending on how much you buy at one time.

Dryer Balls Instead of Fabric Softener


In your battle against chemicals you just received another ally. Dryer balls are supposed to work great n helping your clothes get softer and fluffier. Plus, they do it without chemical aid.

Dryer balls are made from either wool or plastic and they work by keeping the clothes further apart in your dryer. Also, they may have spike sin some varieties and those spikes help produce a fluffier look and feel to them.

Then the ones made out of wool help absorb the moisture that harms clothes. If you [pray a drop or two of essential oil on them you can add some fragrance to your laundry. The dryer balls are very easy to use and just work like fabric sheets. Toss them in the dryer and forget about them.

Wool Balls Instead of Fabric Softener

Wool balls have been described above and are excellent alternatives to fabric softener. These balls do not add any coating or take other measures that fabric softeners do making your clothes chemical-free.

Also, they are not hard to use and with some added fragrance you can add that special touch to your family’s clothes that have them bragging about your laundry talents.

These wool balls should not be that expensive to purchase. Amazon has them for about $9 per 6 pack but these dryer balls are reusable so you may save money over multiple uses. Wal Mart has them at a variety of prices depending o brand and how many you buy.

If you get the ones with the spikes, you may be able to fluff up your clothes and make them feel really soft.

Can I Use Zoflora Instead of Fabric Softener?


This product is a disinfectant but it seems to have a lot of uses. People use it in a variety of places that they would not normally use Zoflora. A couple of drops in your iron helps make your clothes smell a lot better.

Then they use it to clean the exterior of radiators, keyboards, remote controls and so on. It stands to reason that someone would use it instead of fabric softener and they have.

They seem to be pleased with their results but the key to this product’s use is not to overdo it. Too much of a good thing... doesn’t always work out well for many people. Just use it in moderation and make sure you do not mix it with other chemical cleansers etc.

Can I Use Hair Conditioner?

Yes, you can but make sure to dilute it in water first before adding it to your clothes. You need to make the mixture in a spray bottle then spray some directly on a washcloth and rub it in.

After you have done that you can toss the washcloth in the dryer with your wet clothes. Repeat this three times with different loads then you will have to clean the cloth and respray it with hair conditioner.

Or you can directly put the mixture on your dryer drum and let that handle the softening chores for you. This is an easy way to save a little money and you can use the cheap hair conditioners on your supermarket shelves to handle this task.

There is no need to spend a lot of money on expensive hair conditioners just to soften your clothes.

Essential Oils Instead of Fabric Softener


Essential oils on their own do not work as a fabric softener replacement. They do not contain any softening ingredient that would make them a viable substitute. Their main purpose is to make rooms and clothes smell better, helping you to release some stress.

But you can add essential oils to a fabric softener homemade recipe and still get the job done. All you need to make a homemade fabric softener is 4 cups of vinegar and about 10 to 15 drops of essential oils.

Those oil drops do not have to be from the same fragrance. You can mix and match if you want to be unique.

Other Alternatives to Fabric Softener Sheets

We talked about a few fabric softener & dryer sheet replacements already but those are not all of the options you have available to you. Some more chemical-free alternatives help you get soft clothes every time:

  • 1. Epsom salt & baking soda - You can use them together or separately doesn’t matter. Combining them helps you get more softening power than using them on their own.
  • 2. Softener crystals - this is a combination of essential oils and Epsom salts but it is a chemical-free alternative. The main drawback is that the heat of the dryer may destroy the fragrance.Point 2
  • 3. Aluminum foil - scrunched up into a ball it is effectively a dryer ball that helps get rid of static cling.
  • 4. Vegetable Glycerin - just mix with water and use it like you would any other liquid fabric softener. It doesn’t add a fragrance.

Is it Worth Using Fabric Softener?

This is a very good question. If you want your clothes softened then yes it is worth using it. But another question needs to be asked first. Is softening your clothes using chemicals safe and healthy.

If the answer is no then you should look for another alternative that doesn’t use chemicals. Hair conditioner also uses chemicals but they are not as dangerous as the ones used in fabric softener.

The choice is yours on this question. Fabric softener does make having soft clothes simpler and easy to do.

Is Fabric Softener Necessary?


If you want to get rid of static cling, make your clothes fluffier and help the clothes stay softer when hang drying then fabric softener is necessary. But if you want a healthy lifestyle you can still achieve those objectives through using chemical-free alternatives.

Again, this is your decision to make and you should think through the costs of the alternatives to make sure you are saving money as well. If the many alternatives listed in this article you can safely say that fabric softener is not necessary.

You have good replacements that work just as well and keeps you away from harmful chemicals.

What do You do With Fabric Softener?

Fabric softener is added to the final rinse cycle of your wash. If you have a modern washing machine, the machine will add it in for you. This technology saves you the trouble of keeping track of your washing cycle and which stage it is in.

If you are hand washing your clothes, you can add it in when you get to the rinse stage of that process. The only thing you have to worry about when using fabric softener is when to use them.

There are fibers you shouldn’t use it on and the list includes, towels, microfibers, sportswear, fire retardant clothing items, and water repellent fabrics.

How Can I Make my Clothes Smell Good Without Fabric Softener?

How-Can-I- Make-my-Clothes-Smell-Good-Without-Fabric-Softener

There are two ways to get your clothes smelling nice once the laundry process is over. The first is to use a scented hair conditioner. Mixing it with water should not get rid of the fragrance it possesses.

The second way is to use essential oils. Now the dryer may hurt certain essential oil applications but it does not do that for all of those applications. Do some tests to see which one works best for you and your clothes.

Some Final Words

Fabric softener does a nice job of softening your clothes but it is not the only option you have available. If you want to get back to a healthier way of life, then ditch the chemically-laden fabric softener and replace it with vinegar, hair conditioner, a dryer ball, and other choices.

You have plenty to choose from and the replacements do a great job without harming your health.

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