6 Cheap & Eco-Friendly Fabric Softener Alternatives

I am a cleaning expert and have tested various eco-friendly alternatives to fabric softener. Let me share the top natural choices that soften clothes without harsh chemicals. 

I’ve talked to 7 other cleaning pros and made a list of good, cheap substitutes. You probably have these at home. 

You can stop using fabric softeners and choose eco-friendly options like vinegar, baking soda, and soap nuts. These options will cut down on static, make fabrics softer, and add a natural scent.

I know stiff, static-filled laundry is annoying. 

Here are my best 5 easy, low-cost ways to soften fabrics without the risks of regular softeners.

Cheap and Eco friendly Fabric Softener Alternatives

White Vinegar

White vinegar is a popular alternative to fabric softener. It serves as a natural fabric softener and static remover. Vinegar’s acidity breaks down leftover detergent and stops clothes from sticking together by balancing their charge.

Vinegar is also very affordable, at about $3 per gallon, which is much less than most brand-name liquid fabric softeners that may cost between $3-5 for just 40oz. Plus, you can find vinegar in any grocery store.

As an all-natural product, white vinegar is safer for the environment than chemical-based fabric softeners. It’s biodegradable and free from harsh chemicals that linger in wastewater.

Using vinegar is a simple step toward a more eco-friendly laundry routine.

To use it, just add 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup of white vinegar to your washing machine’s rinse cycle. The smell of vinegar goes away as the clothes dry.

For softer clothes, dilute the vinegar with water before adding it to the wash.

Baking Soda 

Baking soda is a cost-effective method to soften laundry without fabric softener. Baking soda naturally softens water, making it a gentle fabric softener.

It relaxes fibers and removes detergent from fabric. It also evens out pH levels and gets rid of odors.

At only $1 per box, baking soda is much cheaper than liquid fabric softeners and is a non-toxic option that’s safer for your family and the environment.

Add 1⁄2 to 1 cup of baking soda to your laundry during the rinse cycle for softening. For a milder effect, dilute the baking soda in water before adding it. Mix in essential oils with the baking soda for added fragrance.

Wool Dryer Balls

Wool dryer balls are a popular reusable alternative to dryer sheets. Wool balls separate fabric fibers and soak up moisture, cutting down on static as clothes tumble in the dryer. 

They cost more than dryer sheets at first, but you can use them for hundreds of loads, saving money over time. They are cheaper than most liquid fabric softeners when you buy them.

Since they are made from all-natural wool and contain no chemicals, wool dryer balls are an eco-friendly way to soften laundry.

They help cut down on waste from single-use dryer sheets. Wool is also biodegradable and renewable.

Use wool balls for the full cycle to get the best results. They are safe for all types of fabrics. Shake the balls now and then to keep them working well.

Epsom Salt

Epsom salt isn’t just for relaxing baths; it’s also an unexpected fabric softener. Epsom salt naturally softens clothes, making them feel very soft.

Add half a cup of Epsom salt to the rinse cycle of your washing machine. It dissolves and softens the fabric, making it softer and more comfy.

Epsom salt also removes odors and stains from clothes. It cleans gently, making your clothes smell clean.

Using Epsom salt is great because it’s cheap and easy to find at most grocery stores or pharmacies.

Homemade Fabric Softener

Create a cheap, tailor-made fabric softener at home to replace store brands. You can mix and match ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and other natural products. 

Vinegar and baking soda, the main ingredients, are very cheap per load. Adding essential oils and glycerin costs a bit more, yet it’s still cheaper than commercial softeners.

DIY fabric softener ingredients are kinder to skin than many chemical softeners. You also have control over the scent by choosing natural essential oils.

This is perfect for those with sensitive skin or allergies.

Try different mixes to find a blend that works well for you. Customize it for the fabrics you wash most. With some testing, you can create an effective softener for your laundry needs.

Soap Nuts

Soap nuts are berries with saponin, a natural cleaner and surfactant. A bag of soap nuts costs about $10-15 and lasts for many washes, similar in price to regular detergent. Soap nuts are cheaper than many liquid fabric softeners.

Soap nut shells break down naturally and have no chemicals. Use soap nuts to cut out waste from detergents and softeners. They are hypoallergenic and gentle on skin.

Put 4-6 soap nuts in a mesh bag in the wash. No need to add other detergent. Soap nuts leave clothes soft and clean, with no residue. You can reuse soap nuts up to five times.

Make the Switch to Natural, Eco-Friendly Fabric Softeners

Instead of using liquid fabric softeners with harmful chemicals, try simple and cheap natural options. Use common household items such as vinegar, baking soda, and soap nuts to soften fabrics and cut static without toxins.

Stop using regular fabric softeners and switch to these cheap, eco-friendly alternatives! 

For more tips and recipes, get my eBook on eco-friendly laundry with pantry items.