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Swap-It Sunday: DIY Fabric Softener

The weather is FINALLY starting to chill out, which means I can start digging out my favorite sweaters and hoodies. Don’t you just love the feeling of pulling on a soft and clean sweatshirt on a Sunday morning, then curling up under the covers with a hot cup of something and a good book??? Meeee tooo.

Here’s the thing, (Debbie Downer alert,): Your BFF fabric softener that you used to get that sweater all cuddly and clean is misleading you!

Here we go, hippy chick Lisa about to get on her little crunchy granola soap box…

Yeah, I get it, I am an easy target for hippy jokes, but seriously, listen up on this one.

Fabric softener is filled with a bunch of slimy chemicals that coat your clothes. Those chemicals trick your brain into thinking your garment is so soft, fresh, and clean but really those compounds are leaching into your body and robbing your cells of energy they need to perform vital functions. Also, that estrogen you need for reproductive health, yeah, those compounds are suppressing that stuff too (Early Menopause: eek!). Did I mention the studies that have found those compounds to be neurotoxic. There is some evidence to suggest that these chemicals can cause Asthma in otherwise healthy individuals! Yikes! That is rather alarming.

What are these chemicals? A bunch with super long unpronounceable names that, collectively, are nicknamed the “quats”. I am not going to dive into each chemical since it will make your brain hurt and if you really want to know, just go read the bottle sitting next to your washer and throw them in a google or PubMed search.

What about that fresh smell? That fragrance contains something called Phthalates and that’s also some pretty nasty stuff. It loves to go after your thyroid and has also been linked so some cancers. For the sake of brevity, I will devote another post on phthalates so that we can keep this one short.

I know what you might be thinking; the amount of fabric softener you use spread out throughout the entire load, in the grand scheme of things must be negligible, right? Well sure, but think about all the products you have in your home that contain these same compounds (shampoos, wipes, cosmetics, lotions etc.). It all adds up. I get that I am guilty of being a bit on the “I am too good for chemicals” spectrum, but at some point, you should hear something like this and say, oh #@#%, maybe I better cut back on that stuff. You don’t have to change everything in your entire house. Cutting back or eliminating things here and there counts. So why not start with fabric softener since, one, you could technically just completely go without it, and two, you can make your own which doesn’t take long at all, it lasts just as long if not longer than the regular stuff, and its SUPER cheap to make. It also makes your clothes so wonderfully soft and you get just the same cozy, cuddly feel.


A gallon of Vinegar

A big box of baking Soda

Your favorite Essential Oils

VINEGAR? That’s disgusting, you must be walking around smelling like a salad all the time!

Actually, not at all. The baking soda almost completely absorbs the smell of vinegar and by the time it comes out of the wash, there no trace of the smell. In fact, my clothes smell rather nice from the essential oils.

Directions: Pour the gallon of vinegar into a clean stainless glass or stainless steel bowl. Add 10-30 drops each of your favorite essential oils. My FAVORITE combination is lavender and some kind of citrus, mostly tangerine, lemon, or orange. I do 15 drops of each. Next, Start adding baking soda 1-2 tablespoons at a time, stirring constantly. CAREFUL. There’s potential for disaster here. Trust me when I say only add a little at a time. Remember chemistry class? Yeah, it’s a thing. Keep adding, little by little, until adding an additional tablespoon no longer elicits a reaction. Then carefully pour everything back into the vinegar bottle (but that bottle is plastic! I know, I know. But it’s a number 2 so it’s one of those plastics that have less of those chemicals), and you’ve got yourself a giant bottle of fabric softener that costs 3-4 bucks depending on which essential oils you use. You may get some settling at the bottom, no big deal, just give it a little shake before use.

If you are really concerned about the plastic, which can also interfere with the essential oils, you can get fancy with those big glass gallon dispensers like this. I have not graduated to that yet. I am a massive klutz and I don’t want to spend the money knowing there is a 99.999% chance I am dropping it and breaking it all over my concrete basement floor. If I can think of a way to make the glass dispenser “Lisa proof”, then I am going for it.



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