How To Keep Clothes Soft Without Fabric Softener? Natural Ways

Are you tired of using chemical-laden fabric softeners to keep your clothes soft? Not only can they be expensive, but they can also cause skin irritation and harm the environment.

Fortunately, there are several natural alternatives to fabric softener that can help keep your clothes soft and fluffy without the use of harsh chemicals. From vinegar to wool dryer balls, there are many options to choose from.

natural ways to keep clothes soft without fabric softener
credit: AI/MidJourney

Use Vinegar as a Fabric Softener

If you’re looking for a natural fabric softener alternative, look no further than your kitchen pantry. Vinegar is a great option for keeping clothes soft and fresh without the use of harsh chemicals.

To use vinegar as a fabric softener, simply add 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar to the final rinse cycle. This will help remove any soap residue and leave your clothes feeling soft and fluffy.

If you have particularly hard water, you may want to add a bit more vinegar to the rinse cycle. Hard water can cause mineral buildup on clothes, which can make them feel stiff and scratchy.


1Fill your washing machine with clothes and detergent as usual.
2When it’s time for the final rinse cycle, add 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse compartment.
3Start the rinse cycle and allow it to complete.

Another option is to add vinegar directly to the washing machine during the wash cycle. Simply add 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser or directly to the drum before starting the cycle.

It’s affordable and easy to find at your local grocery store.

Try Baking Soda

If you’re looking for a natural and effective way to keep your clothes soft, look no further than baking soda. Not only is it a powerful cleaning agent, but it also helps to regulate pH levels in the wash, which can lead to softer clothes.

To use baking soda as a laundry boost and fabric softener, simply add half a cup to your wash cycle along with your regular detergent. Alternatively, for an even deeper clean and softness, you can try soaking your clothes in a baking soda solution before washing. To do this, dissolve one cup of baking soda in a sink or bathtub filled with warm water, add your clothes, and let them soak for 30 minutes before washing as normal.

Add Epsom Salt to the Laundry

Epsom salt is a popular natural remedy for sore muscles and inflammation, but it can also be used to keep clothes soft. The magnesium in Epsom salt has fabric softening properties, making it an easy and effective alternative to traditional fabric softeners.

To use Epsom salt as a fabric softener, simply add 1/2 cup to your washing machine during the rinse cycle.

If you prefer to use a pre-made solution, look for Epsom salt laundry detergents or fabric softeners at your local grocery store or online retailer. These products offer the convenience of pre-measured amounts of Epsom salt, along with other natural ingredients to help keep your clothes soft and smelling great.

Additionally, Epsom salt can also help remove odors from your laundry. Simply add a cup of Epsom salt to a large bucket or bathtub filled with warm water and soak your clothes for at least an hour before washing as usual. The salt will help eliminate any lingering odors, leaving your clothes smelling fresh and clean.

Overall, using Epsom salt as a natural fabric softener is an easy and affordable way to keep your clothes feeling soft and fresh without the use of harsh chemicals.

Use Wool Dryer Balls

If you want a natural alternative to fabric softener that will also make your clothes dry faster, you can try using wool dryer balls.

These are reusable balls made of felted wool that you can toss into your dryer along with your clothes. They work by creating space between your clothes and allowing hot air to circulate better, which will help your clothes dry faster.

Along with reducing drying time, wool dryer balls can also help soften your clothes. As they bounce around in the dryer, they help break up any clumps of wet clothes, which can make them feel stiff.

Opt for Air Drying

Not only is it environmentally friendly, but it can also help reduce static and keep your clothes feeling soft.

If you’re concerned about clothes becoming stiff, avoid using metal clothespins and opt for plastic ones instead.

If you’re air drying your clothes indoors, make sure the room is well-ventilated to prevent excess moisture.

To prevent clothes from becoming too stiff, make sure to shake them out before hanging or laying them flat to dry.

Use Liquid Fabric Softener Alternatives

Commercial liquid fabric softeners often contain synthetic fragrances and chemicals that can irritate the skin and harm the environment. Fortunately, there are natural alternatives that can leave your clothes feeling soft and fresh.

Homemade Fabric Softeners

You can easily make your own liquid fabric softener using natural ingredients like white vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils. Simply mix one part vinegar or baking soda with two parts water, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil, and pour the mixture into a spray bottle.

Eco-Friendly Fabric Softener Brands

If you prefer to buy pre-made fabric softeners, look for eco-friendly and natural brands that use plant-based ingredients. Some popular options include Seventh Generation, Ecover, and Mrs. Meyer’s.

Wool Dryer Balls

In addition to using liquid fabric softeners, you can also try using wool dryer balls to help soften clothes. They work by gently massaging and separating fibers, reducing static and wrinkles, and promoting better airflow in the dryer. Simply toss a few wool dryer balls into the dryer with your clothes and enjoy softer, fluffier laundry.

By using natural liquid fabric softener alternatives, you can keep your clothes feeling soft and smelling fresh without resorting to harsh chemicals.

Choose Softer Fabrics

When shopping for new clothes, consider choosing materials that are naturally soft and comfortable. Some examples of softer fabrics include:

  • Cotton
  • Bamboo
  • Linen
  • Silk
  • Modal
  • Cashmere

Additionally, avoid fabrics that are known to be stiff or rough, such as polyester or nylon.

If you’re unsure about the softness of a particular fabric, feel it with your hands before purchasing. A little attention during the shopping process can make a big difference in the overall comfort of your clothing.

Avoid Overloading the Washing Machine

Overloading the washing machine is a common mistake many people make, as it can save time and energy. However, cramming too much laundry into the machine can have negative effects on the softness of clothes.

When the washing machine is overloaded, clothes are unable to move around freely during the wash cycle. This means that detergent and water may not get distributed evenly, leaving some clothes under-washed while others get excessively cleaned. As a result, clothes can become stiff and lose their softness.

To ensure that your clothes remain soft, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the maximum load capacity for your washing machine. In general, it is better to err on the side of caution and wash smaller loads more frequently. This will help your clothes receive the proper care and attention they need to stay soft and fluffy.

Use White Vinegar as a Rinse Aid

White vinegar is a mild acid that can help remove any soap residue that may be making your clothes stiff.

To use white vinegar as a rinse aid, simply add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle, depending on the size of your load. This method is particularly helpful for towels and other items that need to be absorbent and soft.

It’s important to note that while vinegar has a distinct scent, it dissipates during the rinse cycle and will not leave your clothes smelling like vinegar.

Avoid Using Harsh Detergents

Harsh detergents can strip your clothes of their natural oils, leaving them feeling rough and stiff. To prevent this, opt for gentle detergents that are free of harsh chemicals and additives.

  • Look for natural and eco-friendly options that are formulated with plant-based ingredients.
  • Follow the instructions on the detergent label and avoid using more than what is recommended.

Dry Clothes on Low Heat

To keep clothes soft, choose the lowest heat setting possible on your dryer.

If you’re in a rush and need to dry clothes quickly, consider using the air-dry or fluff setting. These settings don’t use heat and can help prevent stiffness.

When using the dryer, be sure to remove clothes promptly once they’re dry.

Avoid Using Excessive Bleach

Bleach is a common laundry product that many people use to whiten and brighten their clothes.

If you do need to use bleach, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and use it sparingly. Avoid pouring bleach directly onto clothes and never mix bleach with other cleaning agents. Also, consider using natural alternatives for brightening and whitening laundry, such as lemon juice or baking soda.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why should I avoid using fabric softener?

Fabric softener can cause buildup on clothing fibers, reducing their absorbency and making them less breathable. Additionally, many fabric softeners contain chemicals and fragrances that can irritate sensitive skin.

Can vinegar be used on all types of fabrics?

Vinegar is safe to use on most fabrics, but it’s always best to check the care label before using any new product on your clothing.

How many wool dryer balls do I need to use?

It’s recommended to use at least three wool dryer balls per load of laundry for maximum effectiveness.

Can I combine different natural fabric softener alternatives?

Absolutely! You can experiment with combining different methods to find what works best for you and your laundry.

Will air drying make my clothes stiff?

Air drying can sometimes result in stiff clothes if they are not properly shaken out before hanging, or if they are left to dry in an overly humid environment.

To prevent stiffness, try tossing clothes in the dryer on a low heat setting for a few minutes after air drying.

Can using natural fabric softeners save me money?

Yes! Many natural fabric softener alternatives, such as vinegar and baking soda, are much cheaper than commercial fabric softeners.

How often can I use Epsom salt as a fabric softener?

It’s safe to use Epsom salt as a fabric softener with every load of laundry, but some people may find that it is not necessary for every wash.

Will using natural fabric softeners affect the scent of my clothes?

Natural fabric softeners do not contain artificial fragrances, so the scent of your clothes may be less intense than if you were using a commercial fabric softener.

However, you can add a few drops of essential oils to wool dryer balls or vinegar solutions for a natural scent boost.

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