DIY Natural Fabric Softener and DIY Dryer Sheets

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Have you ever wanted to try creating your own DIY Natural Fabric Softener or DIY Dryer Sheets? Both can be very easy to create and they work just as well as any expensive store version. Check these easy recipes out!

Have you ever wanted to try creating your own DIY Natural Fabric Softener or DIY Dryer Sheets? Both can be very easy to create and they work just as well as any expensive store version.

DIY Fabric Softener and DIY Dryer Sheets

When you stay in one place and get used to living in a certain climate, it makes for some interesting living when you move across the country and discover that what works in one place just will not work in another.

When we were in our rental home during our pastoral internship, we had some interesting issues come up. Our rental home had well water and for the most part, it was ok. We use our Berkey for all of our drinking water and although the showers got pretty rusty looking, the water didn’t smell bad. The trouble is that the washing machine and dryer in the rental were about 100 years old (not really though because that would almost be better if they were!) and they didn’t work like they used to. Plus the static…oh the static!

I will admit that fabric softener and dryer sheets were not something I’ve used much of before. It just seemed like we didn’t need them in the climate we were in so I never bought them. But now, I thought it might be helpful to add a few more frugal staples to my homemade frugal laundry strategies plan and so today I’m going to share with you some very easy and frugal ways to make a DIY Natural Fabric Softener and some DIY Dryer Sheets!

These Dryer Sheets and DIY Fabric Softener will work with hard water and water with minerals in it. They are such an easy way to stop using toxic chemicals and commercial fabric softeners. Plus unlike other homemade fabric softener recipes, this recipe does not include white vinegar, which doesn’t always work for hard water.

FAQs About DIY Fabric Softener

Can you make fabric softener out of conditioner?

I have seen it done on other websites but I wouldn’t recommend it. Not only would it be very expensive to make, you’d have quite a few unnecessary ingredients going into your softener.

How do you break down stiff fabric?

Using fabric softener should help. You can use it in combination with dryer sheets if you have a dryer. If you line dry your clothing, make sure to hang it in a breezy area and the wind will do the rest of the softening job for you.

How long does homemade fabric softener last?

My recipe for homemade fabric softener will last indefinitely. The dryer “sheets” should be cleaned and reset after every 10 uses.

Fabric Softener Homemade

DIY Natural Fabric Softener

Recipe from Little House Living: The Make Your Own Guide to a Frugal, Simple, and Self Sufficient Life.

What You Need:

How to Make and Use the Homemade Fabric Softener:

In a small bowl, mix the salt and the oils together. (Only use oils if you’d like a natural scent…they are optional.) Add 3 tablespoons (or less) of the mixture to each load of laundry that needs fabric softener. (Add directly into your washer during the rinse cycle or right before the final rinse, not into the softener dispenser.) You can add the same amount of your favorite essential oils in any combination if you prefer a different scent.

Other nice scents to add would be:

  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Eucalyptus

You shouldn’t need to add fabric softener to every load of laundry that you do, only those that tend to get a little stiff or those you plan to line dry.

This type of “fabric softener crystals” is better than liquid fabric softeners because it won’t leave soap residue on your clothing.

You do not need to add any fragrance or essential oils if you don’t want to. I would not recommend adding any essential oils for those that tend to suffer from asthma, skin irritation, or an allergy.

Note: If you are using the homemade Laundry Detergent recipe in my book (not the one here on the website) you do not need to use this fabric softener since the detergent already contains salt. Also, Ginger can be a little more on the expensive side for an essential oil. If you are on a tight budget, just stick with the grapefruit oil.

Cloth Rags for DIY Dryer Sheets

DIY Dryer Sheets

What You Need:

  • 1 DIY Fabric Softener Recipe (above)
  • 1 cup water

In a small saucepan, add the ingredients from the DIY Fabric Softener recipe along with one cup of water. Slowly heat the water and stir occasionally until the salts have dissolved into the water.

Remove the liquid softener from the stove and pour it into a small basin or tub. Add several clean cloth rags to the tub and let them soak up the water. If you want to add more scent, you can add a few more drops of essential oils into the mixture at this point.

Dryer sheets can cut down on your drying time and provide another way of softening clothes if you don’t want to add salts to your washer.

Drying Cloths for DIY Dryer Sheets

Wring most of the liquid out of the rag and rag it to air dry. After the towels have dried, fold them and place them next to your dryer so they are ready to use. To use a fabric softener sheet, just toss one of the rags in with your laundry when you put it in the dryer.

You should be able to get at least a dozen uses out of each of these DIY Dryer Sheets before you should wash them and resoak with the solution.

Alternatives to using DIY Dryer Sheets:

  • Wool Dryer Balls (Here’s how to clean your Wool Dryer Balls if you already have some)
  • Baking SodaAdd a bit to your washing cycle to help freshen and soften clothes. (Will not help with static)
  • Vinegar – Add to your washcloth and stick in the dryer. Apple Cider Vinegar works best.
  • Aluminum Foil Ball – Just toss in the dryer for help with static.

More Homemade Household Helpers

Find many more Frugal Laundry Strategies here!

If you love these DIY dryer sheets and fabric softener recipes you will absolutely love my book, Little House Living: The Make Your Own Guide to a Frugal, Simple, and Self-Sufficient Life. It features 130 recipes just like these that are perfect for your household!

Do you make your own DIY dryer sheets or DIY natural fabric softeners? How do your recipes differ? Do they work well for you?

Did you try this DIY and love it? Be sure to send it to your friends on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and through Email using the sharing buttons!

This post with the DIY Fabric Softener and DIY Dryer Sheets was originally posted on Little House Living in December 2019. It has been updated as of January 2023.

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18 Comments

  1. I enjoy reading your posts. Keep up the good work! I’ve used dryer balls for years! I switched to wool dryer balls a few years ago and love them. I recently had to buy a new set, because one has disappeared. Do you suppose the dryer are one??? Hmm….

    1. LOL! Ann, I had one of mine go walk-about: escaped the dryer, rolled out the open garage door and went on an adventure, rolling down the hill for for a block or so 🙂

      I make almost everything – and DIY dryer sheets are genius! Thank you so very much, Merissa. 🙂

  2. If you aren’t into the added scents, vinegar works wonders for both of these. 1/4 to 1/2 cup vinegar in rinse cycle for fabric softener. A clean washcloth or rag made damp with 50/50 vinegar water solution, tossed into dryer with wet clothes, works as dryer sheets (1-4 per load, depending how large/small your load may be)
    Leaves no scent, towels and sheets are soft, and no static whatsoever!

    1. Barbara, I do, too. Vinegar is great for the machine and the environment. Good if one has sensitive/allergy problems.

  3. I hadn’t considered making home-made fabric softener or dryer sheets b/c I don’t use it with every load and can make what I buy last, but I’m always up for learning a more inexpensive way to do something especially when it’s simple.

    Thanks so much, Merissa!

  4. LOL at the missing dryer balls, going on walkabout or being eaten by the dryer!
    I also use vinegar in the rinse cycle, and it works well here in OH. The static issue seems to be cloth type dependent. I find certain fleece/manmade materials hold more static. And that seems to hold true here in central OH as well as when I was growing up in northern OH. Methinks it’s more the materials than the climate. Wondering what effect the salt has on the ‘wear and tear’ on the clothing in the long run? I will admit tho, that I have to use hairspray to keep down the static in my hair in the winter here. Might be an interesting science project for your kids, Merissa, to see what the magnetic environment of OH vs your previous home are?

    1. So far we are finding it much less static here than we did in South Dakota. I think just because there is so much more moisture in the air much of the time (at least so far this winter!).

  5. Enjoy your blog. Did you know that dryer softener sheets help get burnt on food off of glass and bake ware? Let it soak overnite and it just rinses off. Never use it on any metals tho—turns them black. Keep up the good work.

  6. I use regular softner but, I have a storage container I use to pour my softner into and then add sponges, my holds twelve, the container is just wide enough and long enough that they stand up in the softner. When I use them I squeeze out most of the liquid and put in the dryer. Works great! One bottle lasts me about 6 months to 7 months. I wash 3 to 4 loads a week. I do love your site!