The Fabric Softener Experiment

Do you ever wonder how many people really try their “Pins” on Pinterest? And if they do, how they work out? While I can’t tackle all my Pinterest boards, here’s one project that I did and want to share with you.

First of all, you have to understand that I have pretty high standards when it comes to a DIY project. It is very important to me that a project saves me money and works enough so that I don’t feel like I’m compromising. That was exactly what I was looking for when I made Homemade Fabric Softener. But, unfortunately it wasn’t that simple.

Here is the recipe I tried…

6 Cups Hot Water

3 Cups White Vinegar

2 Cups of Conditioner

Unfortunately, my results weren’t great, and I have to say I wouldn’t make it again. Let me explain… This fabric softener did soften the clothes. The vinegar alone is a great softener. My problem is that I didn’t smell the freshness I was expecting when I opened the dryer door. I use homemade laundry detergent that is unscented. So, one of my main goals with this fabric softener was that it must add that, just washed, fresh scent to my clothes.


But, now I have this Homemade Fabric Softener that I don’t care for very much. I really wanted to make it work though. It would be great to find a way to save money on fabric softener.

So, I decided to try making Reusable Fabric Softener Sheets to see if the homemade softener would work any better applied a different way. The scientist in me decided to make this a little experiment, and in any good experiment you need something to compare it to.  So, I made a Downy version of this homemade reusable dry sheet also.

I soaked them, let them dry for 3 days and put them to the test. It was another loss for the Homemade. It didn’t add any scent to my clothes, they still smelled like nothing. The clothes dried with the Downy sheet smelled so nice and fresh.

So, while I can’t recommend the homemade version, making your own reusable dryer sheets with store bought fabric softener works fabulously and still saves money. Which, along with the fresh smell, was my ultimate goal.  I have used the same sheet probably 8 times now and my laundry is still smelling wonderful each time I use it.

 Here’s how to make some of your own…


You can use washcloths or a hand towel cut into 4 pieces, which is what I did. If you use a towel, finish (zig-zag stitch around the edges or serge) the edges, so you won’t have an unraveling mess in your dryer.

Soak the towels in the Fabric Softener. It takes about a cap full of softener for each towel. The important thing is just to make sure the towel is saturated.

Squeeze out the towels of any excess fabric softener.

Hang them to dry where they will be out of the way. (laundry room, bathroom or outside) They will take about 3 days to dry fully inside, so your house will be smelling good in the meantime. If you are lucky enough to have a sunny day they will dry in a much shorter time outside.

Store them in an any old container you have laying around. We used an empty baby wipe container.

When the scent fades repeat the process.

One of the articles that I got the idea from stated that you should get about 12 dries out of each reusable sheet.  Like I said earlier, I’m at number 8 on my first sheet.  I’ll update you guys when it stops smelling good.


  1. says

    I love it when people test pins – then I don’t have to, LOL! I’ve used straight vinegar in the downey ball as fabric softener in the washer and it worked great. I missed the scent too but then I read (can’t remember where) that the scent comes from the chemicals coating your clothing, and fragrance is a major allergen for so many people. I remember a friend brought her baby to a girl’s night we had and when I held the baby it was like I was in a cloud of dryer sheet fumes. I’ve read that you can add essential oils to the vinegar (and probably your recipe above too) but I haven’t tried it so I’m not sure of the staying-power. I love the money saving aspect of DIY laundry detergent and softener!! Great post!

    • says

      I agree. That was my problem, I knew the vinegar worked, but the conditioner that you added to it was a complete wasn’t of money. I didn’t even think about replacing the conditioner for essential oil. That is a great idea.

  2. Anonymous says

    I’m so glad to hear this worked. Thanks for testing and reporting! I don’t know for sure whether this would work or not, but you might be able to add some essential oil to the mix if you’re really wanting a scent.
    ~ Kelly

    • says

      Kelly, I am thinking about adding essential oil instead of the conditioner or just adding the oil to my laundry detergent next time I make it.

  3. jo n says

    Have you experienced that use of “fabric softeners” after time clogs up your dryer filters reducing efficiency and possible fire starter? I haven’t used fabric softener for years because of this. I also wonder if making my own with vinegar, baking soda and some essential oils would be a good alternative. Any ideas? Comments? Have you tried this? Thank you for any suggestions/comments you may have.

    • says

      I so sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. I have never experienced that, but have heard the same thing told. I have used just plain vinegar, as a softener, for quite some time. It works great, it doesn’t leave a vinegar smell, there is just no smell at all. I did the sheets as an alternative for people who did have to have that fresh smell that store bought softener brings, but wanted to save money. I have wanted to try it with essential oils, to add a natural scent, but that is hard to find in my area, so it is still on my list.

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