What Do Fabric Softeners DO Anyway?
❁ Sure, fabric softeners make our clothing soft. But why does that happen? It’s because they make the fibers of the fabric smoother. If you’ve ever allowed a totally-wet towel to air dry, you’ll know that it will feel stiff and awful. Contrast that with a towel dried with a softener and you’ll know how much better it feels.
❁ When fabric is smoothed, it isn’t itchy or scratchy. And after all, the #1 requirement for clothes is COMFORT. At least, it is to me. Being “stylish” is a distant second.
❁ Fabric softeners reduce static cling, which is especially important in the winter. If you’ve ever touched something and gotten an electric shock you will appreciate this result.
❁ A third important benefit is that softeners reduce wrinkles, no small thing.
❁ Some softeners, although perhaps not all, make fabrics more stain-resistant.
❁ And, in addition to reducing reduce wrinkling possibilities, they reduce “pilling”, that annoying effect on knits that has small balls of link all over your garments.
3 Kinds of Fabric Softeners
❁ Liquid fabric softeners can be added to the machine at a specified time, or your machine may have a dispenser that inserts the liquid into the machine water at a specified time.
❁ Powdered fabric softeners are used exactly like the liquid ones. Personally, I don’t like these because occasionally they have left streaks on my clothes.
❁ Dryer sheets are the most popular kind. They are added to the dryer with the wet laundry and so are easy to use. I prefer these myself.
Commercial (Chemical) Softeners Vs The Ones You Make Yourself
You will not be surprised to learn that there are some VERY toxic chemicals in commercial fabric softeners that can be avoided if you make your own.
Additionally, your own softener is economical and simple to make. Great reasons to consider DIY.
Making Your Own Softeners
There are three basic ingredients in homemade softeners and you most likely already have them in your home:
#1: white vinegar: do not use brown vinegar!
#2: epsom salt
#3: baking soda
Recipe 1: The simplest possible recipe involves putting 1/2 cup of vinegar in your machine dispenser. If you wish some scent in your softener, add a few drops of a real essential oil – NOT an “odor additive” which is almost always toxic chemicals.
Recipe 2: add 2 T of baking soda to a cup of water, allowing the soda to completely dissolve. Pour the liquid into your machine before adding your clothes. You can add essential oils, if you wish.
Recipe 3: using two cups of water, add the baking soda above; then add 3/4-1 cup vinegar. Add the vinegar slowly so that it doesn’t fizz up like the classic volcano in schools science projects.
Recipe 4: fabric crystals are made by simply putting epsom salt or coarse sea salt in a jar and adding a few drops of essential oil. Use by adding about half a cup to your machine, along with your detergent.
Cautions: when adding your softeners, always add them to the water – don’t pour them over your clothing. Also, these DIY recipes will damage microfiber towels so do not use them in that situation.
OK, so here are four simple, cheap recipes that will reduce your toxic chemical load and make you happy with your laundry. And yes, there are recipes for making fabric sheets but take it from me that they’re a lot of extra trouble and why not use the simplest, easiest way to naturally soften your clothes?