Appalachia Cleaning

Homemade Fabric Softner

Homemade fabric softner

After Miss Cindy started making our laundry detergent, I figured there were probably recipes out there for laundry softener as well. A quick google told me I was right.

There are several recipes on the web. Wanting immediate gratification I chose one with ingredients I already had on hand-which were:

  • 6 cups water
  • 3 cups vinegar
  • 2 cups hair conditioner

Fabric softner recipe


I don’t use fabric softener all the time-and when I do use it-I’m not worried about the softness of our laundry-I HATE static cling. But thankfully, it seems static is only a problem for us during the winter.

To be honest with you-I was totally not impressed with the softener I made, and I never made it again.

Since then, I’ve read many people (including some of you) use vinegar in their rinse water to soften their laundry and combat static cling and are thoroughly pleased with the results.

I don’t mind doing laundry. I think it’s because I can see I’ve accomplished something-or maybe it just makes me feel more in control. The Deer Hunter and I had the same washing machine for many many years. Nothing special-but it did accomplish what it was supposed to do.

Well over a year ago the old machine finally bit the dust. We were slightly shocked when we went to pick up a new washer. We were shocked by the prices! But we were also shocked that we couldn’t find a washer like our old one. Every washer looked like a space ship and touted it’s energy and water efficiency.

I’m all about saving energy and being more efficient-but I’m also all about having a washing machine that actually washes. But what could we do? We came home with a new washer and I’ve disliked it since that very day.

The washer ‘senses’ how much water you need. There isn’t a small-medium-large-extra large setting like my old washer had. The sensing would be great-if it actually got the clothes clean-sometimes it doesn’t even get the washing powder dissolved all the way.

And as for adding something to the rinse cycle-forget about it. The washing machine locks its self shut and will not open until the wash cycle has been finished for about 15 minutes. Did I mention it was slow as Christmas?

Anyway now that I’ve pitched a fit about my washing machine: how about you-do you use fabric softener? Have you ever made yours? Do you use vinegar in the rinse?


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  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    July 28, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    Something else I wanted to share is, I haven’t bought a NEW appliance in years and years. We get used ones on our local Craigslist, and sometimes the people will even deliver them for free. We’ve gotten at least five years or more out of the used ones; we’ve never paid more than $125 for any one of them (even delivered), and I think that’s a good savings of money – and aggravation with the new “spaceship” models too.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    July 28, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    Wow! I don’t think I’d like your new washer either. I like to WASH my clothes in a level of water appropriate to the size of the load, BUT – I like to RINSE it in the highest level of water. To achieve that, mid-way between the load when it starts adding rinse water, I go switch the water level all the way to high, add a cup of white vinegar, and let the cycle complete. From what I recall from women in my old times, it cuts through and removes any last traces of detergent in the clothes, saving wear and tear on the fabrics, and easing any itching that might be caused by soap remains. In the old days, it was especially important to use in the rinse water of cloth diapers, to help babies not get a rash from soap residuals.
    Bro Tom and I are sensitive to scents, even of those things that say they’re unscented; we’re asthmatic and get the worst headaches if we’re exposed to strong perfumy scents. A friend recommended using a balled up wad of aluminum foil in the load to reduce static cling, and it works fairly well. I take a pretty big piece, roughly maybe 3 feet long, tuck the ends all under so it won’t snag any material, then wad it loosely into a ball and toss it in the dryer with the wet clothes. It isn’t perfect, but it works well enough, and there’s no stinky scent left behind.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Mrs. V
    July 27, 2013 at 11:29 am

    After having 2 washers quit on me flooding the kitchen for the last time I freaked out, unhooked the last one & rolled it out the back door. We replaced it w/ a sink, wringer, plunger & washboard & have never been happier. Oh yes, & clothes are cleaner & in the same amount of time too.

  • Reply
    July 26, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Wow, people of like mindedness. My words exactly to my husband ‘it looks and sounds like a spaceship’. I hate my new washer and all the crazy noises it makes. In addition I never feel like my clothes are clean or smell good no matter what I add or when. I think it’s the water sensing thing and the weird washing process. I have never made my own fabric softener, it’s a thought considering the price. You have said everything I have said and felt. Thanks! Judith

  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    July 25, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    I find it funny that dryer sheets are avoided by pests, but we humans don’t yet realize how dangerous they are for us.
    If you use Bounce or any dryer sheet on the market, you are ingesting dangerous chemicals that are left on your clothes, and you can’t get that smell out of your dryer. People with asthma or respiratory problems should not use them or have to breathe the fumes from them.
    While some people like the smell, it is made from toxic chemicals. Look up
    I use those little blue bumpy balls and find they work well in my dryer, but want to learn more about the wool balls.

  • Reply
    July 25, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    I just love this Hornet’s Nest
    you’ve stirred up. I really feel
    for Shirla, Bradley, and Miss
    Cindy, but their comments made me
    laugh so much. This was a good
    blog today…Ken

  • Reply
    July 25, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    It’s sad, I know, but I was relieved to know that I’m not the only one who strays from “the sunny side”. On the other hand, folks have a delightful way of find bits of humor, like little sumbeams, to get them through their frustrations. Perhaps we should all compare photos of the controls of our new High Efficiency (we live on rain water, you know) washing machines and dryers. Yes, I am slave to those to . . . . Mine are RED – I was in a spunky mood the day I purchased them. . . .
    For what its worth: I use the High Efficiency Machine laundry detergent (no softener/no fragrance/no color) – I have many options on my controls so I can choose to set it for extra water or and extra rinse but usually do that only when we’ve had to slog in the mud (a rare event around here~) or for the last load which is usually underwear which gets a touch of bleach too. The extra rinse or water is needed to clean off the drum to minimize the musty smell – I still have to leave the washer open between uses to help keep that down – surprised no on mentioned it!
    As for the dryer – I always have to set it for “extra dry” to make sure things do get dry. I also use “tumbler balls” to help keep things fluffy.
    One feature my dryer has which I never thought I’d use but have used a lot this past year when I suddenly had to leave and couldn’t get hanging clothes out of the dryer promptly, is my Quick Steam feature. It is wonderful for a quick refreshing of the now very wrinkled “permanent press” load so I can hang it up wrinkle free.
    Now – about those dishwashers! I just gave up and only run mine when we go to bed: the panel may say 2 hours but it still says that 4 hours into the process!! – and I do a lot of hand washing.
    One more thing – if you haven’t experienced this yet, you might want to look into this soon: both dishwashers and clotheswasher (from the experience of us, one of my kids, my parents and my sister). Around five years of age, they will spring a leak in the “corrugated/accordion like” flexible hose. Big Mess!! My husband and my dad put their heads together and replaced this hose with automotive flexible hose. Two of our kids, my sister-in-law and my brother-in-law decided to do “pre-emptive strikes” and replaced their water hoses with automotive hoses – – they have made it well past the five year mark without any leaks. We are only two years past so I’ll have to let you know about us in another 3 years. Just sayin’

  • Reply
    Susi Pentic
    July 25, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    I can so relate to this we hunted 5 years for a new stove, just recently purchased, thankfully the old one was still working. It was 18 years young. Son said we should not get rid of refrigerator because the new ones do not use the right coolant to make it effiecent and keep things cold. Washer, woe is me, I would love to go back to the wringer washer. It was the best type ever, energy and water effiecent. You used the rinse water for the next batch of wash , recycling as you washed. Today each batch of water goes down the drain.
    Worse she is right about soap not getting wet, clothes coming out so tangled you think your in a tree cellar of roots attempting to untangle. This no dasher is nuts. Worse they changed the soap again and nothing, NOTHING, looks white after the second washing. Dishwashers are not washing the dishes, several TV shows have talked on that in the last year. I do not care if sanitized if food on plate or glass I am not using it or giving to someone else. DUH.
    WE turned down a cool feature on our new Refrigerator because fear it may be the bane of the machine. Not tried and true. So far I can say after 30 years we hooked up this ice maker and it seems to save opening the freezer door to get ice so maybe a wee more effiecent that way. Glad we replaced washer a few years back so maybe we won’t have to again. I would bet this stuff is all made overseas and many still wash by hand.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    July 25, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    NO SOFT EFFORT! Just a BOUNCE sheet goes into my dryer. I use it because my daughter-in-law said she uses it. You could say I KEEP THINGS SIMPLE!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Paul Certo
    July 25, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Vinegar acts as a mordant, so be sure the clothes are clean before using it. If there are any stains, the vinegar will set them and they won’t be likely to ever come out.

  • Reply
    July 25, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    We had the same washing machine for over 20 yrs. Since it died, we’ve had several. None of them washed as well as the first one. My MIL’s is on it’s last legs & she’s hating to have to replace it since she knows she’ll never find a new one as good as it is.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    July 25, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    many years ago I read an article about soap build up in washers. They suggested to you do a load of wash without an detergent and see how much soap suds you actually could see. Recommendation was to add one cup of vinegar at least once a month. It works!!!

  • Reply
    July 25, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    I had the Heavy Duty Washer and
    Dryer from Sears. Those things
    worked great for 15 years. When the washer went out, I know this 82 year old man and he exchanged his for mine for $60. and he delivered and set it up. The same with the blooming dryer when it quit. But I did tell him he could Turkey Hunt on my property. It sure pays to know someone who repairs and sells
    appliances real cheap…Ken

  • Reply
    Debbie Nobles
    July 25, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Do you have Mrs Meyers in your area?We didn’t until we got a Fresh Market.I have tried some of their products and really like them.I found the dishwasher tabs on sale so I will give them a try.I have a LG front loader washer and dryer have had them for almost 3 years.I had Maytag before that it didn’t last 3 years the parts were awful in price so after the second repair came up we said no thank you and got the LG.It has a speed cycle that I can set according to how dirty the load is and I can wash in what ever temp I want.I also have my mom using the new Tide pods.She is in her 80’s with bad back and other problems.She just puts in a pod and doesn’t have to lift jugs or bottles.

  • Reply
    July 25, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Oh girl I FEEL your pain. I too hate my Whirlpool Cabrio washer. HATE IT. Hear that Whirlpool?
    No longer can you pre-wash or SOAK the clothes when they are extra dirty. As for powder detergent (even homemade,) most of the time it leaves a reside.
    You didn’t mention it but the washers can get to stinking. Yes you have to buy a certain cleaner and for 60 minutes wash the washer with HOT water. What a waste. They call these machines energy efficient?!?!
    I don’t use fabric softener. Several years ago I heard about wool balls. I keep 6 in my dryer and use them over and over. Never is there a static cling problem. I love the balls. I just googled wool dryer balls and bought them off of a web site.
    I have a girl friend that is starting to make them. I will have to get her technique and try that.
    Sorry I too had to rant about the stupid washer!
    PS I’m mailing you a soap package today!

  • Reply
    Dee Parks
    July 25, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Tipper, I also had to buy a set of those new washer/dryer when our old ones died. I hate them both as they are not high efficiency as they are labeled – far, far from it. You all are right and now I know I am not crazy. How I would love to have my old washer back. It lasted over 30 years and was wonderful!!!!! This one I am sure is going to shake itself to death or orbit off through the roof. And I hate having to buy HE washing soap. Apparently, Lowes does not listen to it’s customers, because I am sure the majority have reported back how these machines missed the mark.

  • Reply
    Wanda in NoAla
    July 25, 2013 at 10:37 am

    My mama hated her automatic washer. She wanted to go back to a wringer; she was sure her laundry was never clean after she quit using the wringer washer.

  • Reply
    Mrs. K
    July 25, 2013 at 10:35 am

    I don’t use fabric softener, especially on towels because it interferes with the absorbency of the towel. It also leaves ick on clothes and that eventually leads to breaking down of the fibers.
    The recipes I’ve seen also include hair conditioner, but conditioner has as many chemicals as fabric softener, why bother? The point of making my own cleaning products is to get rid of those chemicals.
    Vinegar is a great product for many things. Brenda, try adding 10 drops of pure lavender essential oil (not a fragrance oil, but the real essential oil) to a cup or so of vinegar, you’ll find that vinegar smell disappears and the laundry will smell fresh. I use vinegar and water as a cleaner and add lemon and clove essential oils (just a drop or two of clove) – works great and the kitchen smells wonderful.
    We live in a condo and now have those high efficiency machines – can’t stand them either!

  • Reply
    July 25, 2013 at 9:57 am

    I’m kind of addicted to the fragrance in Gain fabric softner and don’t know if I can give it up. I have never tried vinegar in my rinse, but have heard lots of folks who do.
    I bought a washer/dryer combo from a friend who does the in-home test for appliances where she works. It retails for over $1200.00. So, I thought $400.00 was a fabulous price. Wrong! The lid locks during the rinse and spin cycle, forcing me to use the dispenser. Most of the time I have fabric softner marks on my clothing as the machine doesn’t fill with water for the rinse cycle. I hate the wash cycle even more. I raised the lid to remove an item and found something had not been taken underwater and was still dry. As soon as I can get some help moving this piece of junk, I’m going to get my old one out of the shed, move it back in and thank God every day it continues to work.
    Can we all sign some kind of petition or form a protest march somewhere about our dirty laundry?

  • Reply
    July 25, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Goodness, I hope my washer doesn’t die. I use softener sheets too. But I am a huge fan of white vinegar for ALL KINDS OF CLEANING.
    Right now I have a bottle with orange peels soaking in it. Someone said that would help with the smell.
    We will see.

  • Reply
    Dan O'Connor
    July 25, 2013 at 9:48 am

    You always make me chuckle. We had to get a new washer and dryer a year ago. Fortunately, or some would say unfortunately, I am an engineer and don’t buy anything till I do my EXHAUSTIVE study. Besides the THOUSANDS of choices, I had to get past the sticker shock. I always like to look at the consumer reports and then all the blog posts. So a hundred hours or so later I start to understand what models are the better ones. Then the “finding the best price for the quality machine I want” process starts. This process doesn’t always work, but it does most of the time. My wonderful bride is happy with “our” choice. Life has gotten too complicated!

  • Reply
    July 25, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Fabric softener has always been on my no-no list. I don’t care for the smell. I am perfectly happy with detergent and water. Sometimes I need to pretreat some stains. Also, I have that lock feature, but I can hit stop and it unlocks and when I am finished doing whatever I need to do, I push start and it picks up where it left off. You might have that feature.

  • Reply
    July 25, 2013 at 9:06 am

    I can’t hold it in no longer #@%%**##. Those front loaders with all those promises of what they can do have destroyed my out-look.
    My wife decided that was what she wanted and had to have one. We got one and that’s when all went bad. First off it weighed more than an S-10 pickup truck loaded with watermelons, It only wanted to use just enough water to dampen the clothes. But, here’s what got me, when that thing started to spin dry it must have turned up to 8500 RPM (talk about red lining)I was afraid it was going to get up and run out into the yard. My wife said to get that ***#@!! thing out of the laundry room! She said if it ever got out in the yard it might kill one of the neighbors kids. Okay, Okay, I’ll stop raving but, it was quite a trip. Oh yes, there was a little sticker on the back that said Made in China. I guess we can’t make anything any more except maybe hamburgers and a lot of the beef is imported. I’m sorry but I just had to tell somebody about this.

  • Reply
    July 25, 2013 at 8:08 am

    I use white vinegar in the softener dispenser for my towels….seems to make them extra absorbent and fluffy soft…but my sensitive nose can sometimes still get a whiff of the vinegar when I’m drying off after my shower….I use 1/2 cup….
    I have the newer washer too but still top loader, not the front loader……you are right, it doesn’t clean as well….

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 25, 2013 at 7:40 am

    Tipper, I use fabric softener sheets a little but not a lot. I use the fabric softener sheets. They are convenient for occasional use. I wonder if you could put some vinegar on a small rag and put it in the dryer with your clothes.
    One of the reasons I rarely use fabric softener is I hang most of my things. I put them in the dryer long enough to fluff them and get the cat hair out then take them out and hang them. It is the dryer that causes static.
    Now about your washing machine. I hate it! Plain and simple. It not only controls the amount of water, it controls the temperature. It washes everything in hot water. How is that energy saving? Most items don’t need hot water and some are even damaged by hot water. But your machine locks down and washes everything in hot water no matter what temperature you select. My idea of a good appliance is one that does what I want it to!
    Now than I’m into this rant, lets talk about my dishwasher. It stops three times during it’s washing process to heat water. I have hot water, it doesn’t need to heat water. Again, so much for energy saving. I went back to the store where I got it…Lowes….and complained. They explained that for safety the dishes had to have 130 degrees in order to be safe and that is why it stops and heats water. 130 degrees! Why in the world does it need water that hot?
    I quit using the dish washer! I do not want nor will I tolerate an appliance that does do what I want and make life easier.
    I could go on with my rant about the current appliances but I’ll spare you….well maybe one more thing. My stove tried to set the house on fire, luckily i caught it in time. When the repairman came it was going to cost more to fix the malfunctioning electronic than the stove cost. It was not an old stove!
    Now I quit, no more about the sorry appliances being made now!

  • Reply
    Carol Stuart
    July 25, 2013 at 7:17 am

    I use unscented fabric softener sheets in the dryer and they do a great job. I prefer just to have the laundry clean with no “smell” set in to it. The sheets also stop static cling.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    July 25, 2013 at 7:10 am

    I use vinegar. Did you know that you can use the store bought dryer sheets to prevent mice from crawling in your car or in an area you are storing things? After finding a newt in our Christmas stuff I started using them and have never had another problem.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    July 25, 2013 at 7:05 am

    Yes, I have used vinegar in the rinse.
    I also have a replaced washing machine that I do not like. It is front loading High Efficieny using the special HE detergent. Since we have a well, we thought the less water use, blah, blah blah…would be the thing for us.
    It first wets the clothes, tossing or rolling them over and then back. Seems like it stops, does this all over again, then seems to stop, a spraying noise is heard, (must be releasing the detergent) and starts the roll over procedure again. How the heck does it gets the clothes clean? Like you, I loved my “slosher warsher”!
    Since this one uses very little water, I use hot water for a lot of our wash. I finally switched detergents and feel like it gets the clothes cleaner now. However, when it spins, I live in fear it will rise like a spaceship and hover over the house until the spin begins to slow down. On the final spin, the clothes come out almost dry. The matching dryer, just sits there, waits and grins until then..I have never dried anything more than 3o minutes in that dryer it always shuts off before then indicating the clothes are already dry. I think it is lying to me so I always reset it for another minute or so…The savings I suppose, is on the electricy used by the dryer and the water use, but I don’t pay for my water. They were purchased as a matching set. Just like an old married couple they are direct opposites! One speeding around and spinning like a sidewise top…the other just loafing around tossing itself over til it gets all warmed up and comfy!
    I am afraid I will put a “hex” on them, but if they die, I am going to put a TV installed in the one round opening and make an aquarium out of the other one!
    I made some detergent for my old machine long ago. I am afraid my new-fangled machine would throw-up
    bubbles all over the place so I think I’ll wait til it gets sick first!
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…I have now found two of those old timey dryer racks…

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    July 25, 2013 at 6:53 am

    Man,, hope my wife don’t see your segment on washing machines, we have one of those “more efficient, energy saving machines” my wife hates it.. dryer also.. We got a descent deal @ Lowes, back in their skint and dent section, it top loads but when it spins,, your clothes come out looking like a piece of petrified wood, the new dry takes longer to dry clothes if you don’t spin the ever lasting life out of them.. These things were invented by someone who probably don’t even have to wash their clothes.. someone else does it for them…

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