Alternative to Using Softener When You Wash Your Clothes?

You know that feeling when you walk past the freshly washed laundry and you are blown away by the wonderful smell of fabric softener? Freshly washed laundry has such a special scent that reminds us of freshness and purity. For your laundry to always be so fresh, it is necessary to use detergent, liquid, powder, or capsules, it does not matter, and of course fabric softener during washing. You put the laundry in the washing machine, and then notice that you no longer have fabric softener. What is the alternative to using a softener when you wash your clothes?

Alternatives to using softeners are baking soda, tennis ball, vinegar, essential oils, Epsom salt, or even hair conditioner. Many of the ingredients you have at home can be a great substitute for fabric softener. After washing it with these alternatives, your clothes will be soft and you will not notice much difference.

Alternative to Using Softener When You Wash Your Clothes
Alternative to Using Softener When You Wash Your Clothes

Fabric softeners are an indispensable part of every household today. We even try to find the softener that smells best and we are open to recommendations. Most often it is important to us how the fabric softener smells to make our clothes smell as good as possible, but adding a wonderful scent to the clothes is not the purpose of the fabric softener. The very name of the emollient says what it does, of course, it softens the clothes and makes them gentle on your skin. But for clothes to be soft during washing, you do not necessarily have to put a softener in the washing machine, but you can also use alternatives that you will find in your home.

What can I use instead of laundry softener?

Instead of fabric softener, you can use several ingredients that you will find in your own home. Most alternatives to using a softener will not give such a wonderful smell to clothes as good quality softeners, but we can solve this problem by simply adding essential oils.

Baking soda

Baking soda is an ingredient that you certainly have in the household. If you don’t have baking soda, you can easily buy it at any store. To make your clothes soft, mix half a cup of baking soda in a glass of water. Pour the resulting mixture into the softener compartment. Baking soda softens the water so your clothes will be extremely soft. Likewise, baking soda absorbs unpleasant odors therefore will prevent the accumulation of unpleasant odors on your clothes. After washing, however, the clothes will not smell as intense as you are used to.

Tennis ball

You can also use a tennis ball instead of a softener. We know it sounds a little weird, but this method is really effective. You can insert the tennis balls into the washing machine yourself or put them in a sock beforehand. The balls will hit your clothes during washing and make them soft. This method is especially good when washing duvet, pillows, or large items in a washing machine. In such washes, the tennis ball prevents the feathers in the duvet or pillow from gathering in one place, thus facilitating even washing. A tennis ball can be used for several washes after which it will very likely fall apart.

White Vinegar

We know what is on your mind. You don’t want your clothes to smell like vinegar after washing. Don’t worry, it won’t happen. Vinegar is a natural cleanser that can be a great substitute for fabric softener. You can add it directly to the rinse cycle of your washer or put it in a softener compartment. Vinegar preserves the color of your clothes during washing, enhances the detergent effect, and makes your laundry soft. Using white vinegar is a very cheap alternative and you will find it in almost every store. You only need about two tablespoons per load.

Besides, white vinegar neutralizes unpleasant odors from your clothes. If you have a pet, you know that it is sometimes difficult to separate the pet’s hair from the fabric. White vinegar helps to separate hair from clothes and will easily remove them.

Aside from being a great substitute for a softener, it is great for your washing machine too. It will clean your washing machine and will successfully remove all dirt and even traces of scale and mold.


Another way to get a soft and fine wash is to add vinegar to the rinse aid dispenser. Not only does it give you a soft wash, but vinegar also has the ability to remove bad odors.

The vinegar also keeps the washing machine clean and odorless inside. 

Essential Oils

If you want to make your own fabric softener that will smell wonderful, prepare a jar and fill it with a quart-size container with vinegar. Then add 10 to 15 drops of essential oil. Use those oils whose scent is pleasant to you. Lavender, lemon, orange, lemongrass, and eucalyptus will give a very fresh scent to your clothes. You can also combine several essential oils to create a unique scent.

Using essential oils helps keep your clothes extremely soft and clean. Essential oils will remove all detergent and soap residue from your clothes. Of course, the biggest advantage of using essential oils is the wonderful scent that your clothes will have. 

Epsom salt

Epsom salt is also known as magnesium sulfate. It’s a chemical compound made up of magnesium, sulfur and oxygen that will make your clothes soft. You can use Epsom salt alone as a softener but it is much more effective if you mix it with baking soda. To make a softener with Epsom salt mix one cup of Epsom salt with 1/4 cup of baking soda. To get a pleasant scent to the mixture add 10 to 15 drops of essential oil of your choice. Close the container and shake it to mix ingredients. For each wash, place two to three tablespoons of the mixture directly into the washer.

You can use sea salt instead of Epsom salt, but then use it in very small amounts with baking soda.

Hair conditioner

If you do not have a softener, you can use vinegar mixed with a hair conditioner as a substitute. This way, your clothes will be extremely soft and will smell great. Choose a hair conditioner whose scent you really like. It doesn’t have to be an expensive hair conditioner. Mix 6 glasses of water, 3 glasses of white vinegar and 2 cups of conditioner in a bowl and then store them in a bowl for future washing. Of course, if you need an alternative fabric softener for just one wash, reduce the amount, mix the ingredients and put them in the fabric softener compartment in your washing machine.

Soap nuts

Soap nuts or soap berries are plant-based products that you can use instead of a softener to clean and soften the fabric. Their shells are used to make homemade laundry detergents. These plants contain ingredients that produce foam during washing. Soapberries unlike chemical washing detergent will not leave a soap residue on clothes. To make a softener first crush berries. Add crushed berries to water and let it boil for 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then strain them. Then use them instead of fabric softener to keep your clothes soft and clean.

You can also insert a few berries into a little bag and drop them into the washer to use as a detergent. They will begin to release small amounts of soap and clean your clothes perfectly.

Is there any softener that is environment friendly? 

Most softeners contain many chemicals that are harmful to the environment. Such chemicals are not only harmful to the environment but can also be harmful to human health by increasing the possibility of cancer, suspected kidney, liver, and respiratory toxicants and polluting the air.

There are several environmentally friendly softeners on the market that are plant-based and have mineral ingredients that are completely biodegradable and will not harm aquatic life and the environment and human health in general. Carefully study the ingredients on the package and check which softeners are environmentally friendly. Plant-based fabric softeners can be found in the vast majority of stores with healthy food and other household items of natural origin. 

Also, most of these methods that we have listed as alternatives are completely environmentally friendly and do not contain harmful chemicals to the environment, so you are free to use them without fear that using them will endanger yourself or the environment.

Softener can be a health hazard, is there a better option to make the laundry smell lovely?

Your laundry can smell lovely without using harmful chemical products. You can easily add essential oils to the environmentally friendly alternatives we have offered you. The great thing is that you can choose the scents you like and even combine them yourself to get the perfect combination and the wonderful scent of your clothes.

Some of the great combinations of essential oils that will give your laundry a great fresh scent are:

• 10 drops of lemon + 5 drops of lavender

• 6 drops of lavender + 6 drops of lime + 2 drops of peppermint

• 7 drops of eucalyptus + 7 drops of peppermint

• 3 drops lemon + 3 drops lime + 3 drops grapefruit

• 4 drops of lavender +3 drops of cypress + 3 drops of eucalyptus

Related questions

I’ve heard that vinegar destroys the washing machine, is that correct? Vinegar does not damage the washing machine. The vinegar instead cleans the washing machine, dirt and soap residues detach from the washing machine.

What are Sara’s Eternal Rinses? Sara’s perpetual rinse aid is ordinary vinegar that you add to the rinse aid dispenser. Half a deciliter is enough if you take the 24%. 

Annika Vallgren

The old housewives, in general, were in charge of everything in a household. From doing budget deliberations, meal planning to implementing actions and everything in between, they are simply the right person for the job, period. A major portion of their time was spent doing laundry, cleaning, and feeding her hungry children, who would come home tired from school. I believe we have a lot to learn from her. So, here you will find old housewife tips mixed with modern life hacks, knowledge about washing and cleaning, and much more the modern housewife needs!

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