Dolly's Homemade Fabric Softener

2 Materials
5 Minutes

What can you make with a little bit of hot water, white vinegar and hair conditioner? Join me today as I show you.
I use my wool dryer balls for most of my laundry as a fabric softener. They work so well, but, I need a fabric softener for use with my hand washables.  I don't dry those.  This is a quick and inexpensive fabric softener for those times when you don't have or use the store bought. 

What You Need:
Hot Water
White Vinegar I used White House
Hair Conditioner the inexpensive kind found at the dollar store. I used Suave Naturals in Waterfall Mist scent. It is the closest to the Downy, I think.

*A quick note:
You don't need the hair conditioner and could use for scent an essential oil of your choice.  I just happen to have quite a supply of these hair conditions purchased when they were all the rage in making fabric softeners and don't want to waste them.

* Actually you don't need a scent, I just hate the smell of vinegar even though it disappears with time.

I made the small mix today because that is all I need for now.
It only takes a minute to heat some water and mix these three ingredients to make a quick fabric softener.
I've included a printable mixture card. You can make several sizes to suit your laundry needs. Most of you know that I use wool dryer balls for most of my laundry, but there are times when you need a liquid softener. I use this on my hand washables that can't be put into the dryer.
You can make larger batches the choice is yours.
I made the small batch today because it is convenient for me, and stores easily.
**The small batch fits into a 1 quart container or canning jar with lid.  There is enough room for shaking a little before use as well.
***You can cut the hair conditioner in half as well and it still will give a lighter softening.

Use 1/8 - 1/4 cup per load
depending on the size of the load.
Please join me over at Hibiscus House for lots of cleaning mixtures that work!

Suggested materials:

  • Vinegar  (Grocery)
  • Hair Conditioner  (Dollar General)
Dolly Sarrio

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 6 questions
  • Lynn
    on Jun 1, 2017

    I love the idea of making your own fabric softener. Can you tell me where to buy the plastic lids for the mason jars?
    • Cathy Waterstradt
      on Feb 9, 2019

      Cant you just reuse if you have one anyways. A fabric softener container with the spout on it from the store. I think they r so much easier to use for me anyways. Just sit on the washer and open the soap dispenser drawer and fill. If you have the front loader that is. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I sure will be trying this today. Surely would save a lot of money in the long run for me. Thanks again.

  • Jdb22511941
    on Jun 2, 2017

    How do you get built up soap and fabric softener out of dishtowels? I have a water saver washing machine and use fabric softner sheets. Overtime I think it builds up. I like the idea you posted and do want to try it.
    • Gabrielle Falk
      on Jun 15, 2020

      I think you solved your own problem; in that you have a water saving machine. ergo; they use less water. Maybe use less clothes detergent? Do you also use fabric conditioner, as well as fabric conditioner sheets? Maybe if you are using both, it is too much. With a water saving machine, do you recycle the rinse water into the next wash or rinse cycle, and if so, that rinse water would have detergent/sudsy remains. Personally, I haven't used conditioner for years, just use less detergent, or vinegar in the conditioner container. In saying this, never forget that vinegar is an acid. And can, over time, cause rusting and disintegration of vital components. So there's a good idea - use heaps of vinegar, so your 'beloved'  water saver machine disintegrates, or maybe you should just blow it up, and tell your husband, it 'broke'. I have no idea of what happened,  (shock/horror) dear.

  • Deb26848737
    on Jul 5, 2017

    Just curious...I've used a similar recipe for awhile, but it just calls for water, not hot. Any reason this needs specifically hot water?

Join the conversation

4 of 58 comments
  • Lisa House
    on Apr 12, 2018

    I use just vinegar and have never smelled it on my clean laundry, but I find it doesn't soften my towels well enough (I do use wool dryer balls).

    • Lisa House
      on Apr 28, 2020

      When I posted this I was living in my daughter's home. Now in my own home I am not having any issues so I must have bought better towels than she had. I have a smallish unit due to limited room, I add 1/2 cup via the bleach dispenser and everything is soft.

  • TexasNana
    on Jun 4, 2019

    Thank you! So simple, I'll save a bundle of money!

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