How to Naturally Soften Laundry

Three Methods:Assess What Needs Softening or De-WrinklingConsider Your Fabric Softening ApproachSoften Your Clothing, Naturally

Don’t appreciate the toxicity of commercially made dryer sheets or in a pinch to soften laundry and have no alternatives? You don’t have to put up with “rough” or wrinkled attire just because you don’t have a fabric sheet in hand. You can soften laundry the natural way using a few different, “tried and true” methods at home.

Method 1
Assess What Needs Softening or De-Wrinkling

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    Determine if the item(s) can be ironed or steamed in lieu of using fabric softener or a dryer sheet. In some cases, you may need to iron the item regardless of whether you use fabric softener or any other way to soften the garment in the laundry cycle.
    • If you plan to wear the garment to a professional or important social gathering, consider just skipping the fabric softening step and go right for the iron or steam cleaning as this will be required for the event.
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    Consider if you can group the fabrics/clothing that require softening together. You could either launder these items together or you could launder them one after the other.
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    Remove synthetic garments from the laundry that should be softened. Synthetic clothing in the dryer creates static so consider separating those items or air dry the clothing.

Method 2
Consider Your Fabric Softening Approach

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    Determine if you want to soften the laundry in the washing machine or dryer. Either or both machines can help you reduce wrinkles and static cling.
    • Read washing machine or dryer manufacturer instructions before adding any liquid to the or item to the wash. For some machines, adding certain substances can damage the machine or your laundry.
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    Assess your materials. You may have an abundance of baking soda or a set of tennis balls that can be added to the dryer. Go with a fabric softener that is easily accessible and on hand.
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    Consider smell. For example, if you decide to soften fabric using vinegar you may have an after smell that lingers on your garments long after they’ve emerged from the dryer.

Method 3
Soften Your Clothing, Naturally

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    Add ½ cup baking soda to the wash water as it fills with water. Do this before you add your clothing and allow the washtub to fill with water as the baking soda dissolves. Once dissolved, add clothing and start machine.
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    Use ¾ to 1 cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle. You could add to the vinegar by combining it with baking soda and your detergent. Combine ½ cup white vinegar, ½ cup baking soda and ½ cup detergent to both clean and reduce static cling.
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    Turn to Borax to soften clothing. Add ¼ cup of Borax to the wash rinse cycle and allow it to soak into your cleaned laundry.
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    Soften clothing in the dryer. Toss two clean (preferably new) tennis balls into the dryer with wet clothing. Run dryer on regular cycle (note--you may hear clanging from your laundry room). Your clothing may also smell like a new tennis ball, so if you have an aversion to that odor, skip this method.
    • Reduce “new tennis ball smell” by adding a few drops of essential oil to the tennis balls. Add several drops of lavender oil (for example), allow oil to permeate and soak into the tennis ball and then use.


  • Create a beanbag filled with flaxseeds to soften clothing in the dryer. Be sure bags are well sealed to avoid having the flaxseeds fly all over the dryer.
  • Another vinegar combination is to combine 6 cups hot water, 3 cups conditioner and 3 cups white vinegar in a laundry ball for the washing machine.

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Categories: Laundry