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Using Vinegar as Fabric Softener: Vinegar can take the place of your conventional fabric softeners. It has many benefits and can improve the life of your machine. So make sure you have vinegar in your laundry room in place of liquid fabric softener.
A long time ago I learned that using Downy liquid softener and some other commercial fabric softeners made your lint filter impervious to water. Which, of course, is problematic as steam needs to escape from there to get your clothes clean.
But, I did love my downy, and how it kept things soft and static-free
And truth be told, I still keep a bottle of downy on hand with my laundry detergent, every once in a while I need a little extra softness.
But, in the meantime I use vinegar in place of fabric softener.
Vinegar as Fabric Softener
Good ol’ fashioned white vinegar can be your friend when it comes to your laundry routine.
I pour in about the same amount as I’d use of fabric softener — right into the fabric softener dispenser. Easy peasy.
Then, dry as usual.
The clothes still feel fairly soft. They don’t have the Downy smell.
I do keep some fabric softener dryer sheets on hand, mostly because they are handy for other things.
Is Vinegar a good Fabric Softener?
I do not believe the clothes are AS soft as when I used Downy. I also find more static cling than I did when I used Downy. But, it’s manageable and has fewer harsh chemicals. Sometimes when I’m finding more static I will use….
BTW, I use vinegar for lots of things — I have a post on how to clean tile floors with vinegar.
Tin Foil Dryer Balls
You can just take a big sheet of foil, crumple it up and put it in your dryer as a fabric softener ball. It helps with the static-y ions (big word, right) and keeps static in check, in a reusable form that still works. This is an affordable options and a good alternative to wool dryer balls.
If you want something else to help your dryer, check these or these out!
Vinegar and Essential Oils in the Laundry
A lot of people worry that the vinegar will make your clothes smell like pickles all day.
Not true. You’re putting so little in that it will easily rinse out.
You can also add some drops of essential oils in with the vinegar to help scent your clothes, as well as keep any mold/bacteria in your front loader in check. Tea tree oil is great for this! A few drops of your favorite essential oil is an easy way to create your own mixture of vinegar natural fabric softener with fewer chemicals.
Vinegar in laundry front loader
Good news! Vinegar can help your front loader not smell as much with a mildew odor. When I wash my machine (I try to wash it monthly) for best results I alternate between 1 cup of bleach and 1 cup of vinegar. Both are a great way to help keep my front loading machine running well!
I also use vinegar to clean my floors and in lieu of Jet Dry in my dishwasher. I also use to to clean my dishwasher, as well as my washing machine. I love vinegar. Don’t tell Drew. 🙂
Vinegar as Fabric Softener Faq’s
Yes, if you’re still planning to use both of them, vinegar has great properties such as making your detergent a little stronger, and getting rid of smells that can be awesome in addition to fabric softener?
As I mentioned above, it’s not great for your machine. It makes it so moist air can’t get out your dryer filter and clothes will eventually take longer to dry.
Plus, it’s expensive and not great for the environment!
You can use ACV in a load of laundry as a homemade fabric softener, but i prefer just regular white vinegar as a laundry softener.
It’s best to use one quarter to one half-cup of white vinegar is usually the best amount of vinegar per load.
I use white vinegar instead of chemical fabric softeners. I get a large bottle of vinegar at Costco and we use it frequently around our house
Be sure to check out this post about my love of vinegar when combined with my favorite cloth.
Grab my weekly cleaning schedule here and check out my other cleaning posts below that!
Hey, hillree! Long time no see! Just saw this post and yes, vinegar is awesome! Haven’t used it in the wash for awhile and should start again. Did you know you can add essential oil to make it smell good? Just a few drops goes a long way. Does vinegar help with static? We’re having a terrible time with static these days! What do you think?
For fabric softener, I mix i part vinegar, i part water, 1 part fabric softener. My clothes are soft, smell good, and no static. When I use dryer sheets, I buy in bulk at Sam’s and cut them in half. Half sheets work just as well as whole sheets.
should read: 1 part vinegar, 1 part water, and 1 part fabric softener. Sorry for the typo.
Interesting splitting it up…… cool!
I’ve read about those dryer balls, or even making your own out of alluminum foil, Jonna.
Jane Simmons says
I too am a big fan of vinegar, but not always the smell. I make a lemon vinegar. Fill a mason jar about 2/3 full of vinegar and add Lemon peel until it is full. Let this sit in a window sill for around 2 weeks. You have lemon scented vinegar. I then use the lemon peels to clean my garbage disposal. Any citrus peel could be used for this. I use this scented vinegar as a base for an all purpose cleaner, floor cleaner, shower cleaner. . .etc.
I need to try that with the citrus peels!
I have used vinegar for a couple of years now. I stopped using fabric softeners and dryer sheets completely. I live in a condominium and couldn’t stand the smell of the air coming out of the exhaust fan when I walked by and got to wondering about how safe it was. I found out that fabric softeners and heat-activated dryer sheets can harm your health, damage the environment and pollutes the air, both inside and outside your home. The smell is created from CHEMICALS not natural essences and may contain phthalates, which disperse the scent; synthetic musks such as galaxolide, which accumulate in the body; and much more. Fragrance mixes can cause allergies, skin irritations such as dermatitis, difficulty breathing and potential reproductive harm. Research indicates that scents also cause irritation when vented outdoors, especially for asthmatics and those sensitive to chemicals. Not worth it in my opinion.
Hilary Erickson says
I love it — it’s great all around!
Just wanted to share another, related, tip:
Add a splash of vinegar to the main washing cycle (via the detergent dispenser);
Your water will be softer, so you will have to use less detergent and probably also less softner / vinegar in the rinse cycle because of it.
Hilary Erickson says
nice! Good plan! I am sad I have no detergent dispenser in my basic washing machine anymore (but I love how it doesn’t leak or break) hahhah
It will probably work the same if you add it in a detergent ball or straight into the machine.
I don’t expect problems, but to be safe; before using it on delicates it would probably be wise to test if the vinegar doesn’t stain them if poured straight on to them. (I doubt it)
If your machine allows it you could always add the vinegar when the machine already has some water in it.
There are some rumours that vinegar may harm the rubber or plastic in your machine or deteriorate the elastic in your clothes.
Well yes and no.
It could if you would clean those parts of your machine with pure cleaning vinegar, so always use it diluted.
And if you want to use vinegar (let’s say once a month) to descale and clean your machine:
Put about a liter (0,264 gallon) of vinegar in your machine (without laundry) and do a full washing cycle at the highest temperature.
It would be best to use white vinegar for this instead of cleaning vinegar because of possible rubber damage as the acidity of cleaning vinegar is a bit higher than that of white vinegar.
On a side note, you probably won’t have to descale (often) if you use vinegar in the washing and rinsing cycles.
It is unlikely that vinegar damages elastic in clothes if it is diluted.
I always use white vinegar because of the slightly lower acidity.
You mention liking the smell of Downy. I read on another forum that you can buy an essential oil on Amazon that is a Downy-wanna-be scent, which you could use with wool dryer balls, or perhaps in the rinse cycle with vinegar (though I’ve read that both options have a very minimal impact on the finished clothing’s scent).
Pulling Curls says
I’ll have to look into that. Thanks.