No More Fabric Softener

Fabric softener is not necessary.  There, I said it.  A few years ago I wouldn’t have believed it, but one day I discovered I ran out of dryer sheets so I had to go without.  Guess what.  I survived and so did my laundry!  But running out isn’t the only reason to carry on without fabric softener.

Fabric softener serves a couple of purposes:  softening fabric (duh), reducing static, and making fabric smell pretty.  The softening is accomplished by the oils in the fabric softener.  The oils make the fabric feel soft to the touch.  And since oil is a poor conductor of electricity, it helps prevent static buildup during the drying (but is not a guarantee, especially with fleece).  The scents in fabric softener stick to your clothes, almost permanently.

Now some downsides and alternatives:

OIL IN LAUNDRY:  When the oils get rinsed down the drain, they cause the sand and gravel in your septic system to bind together and not drain properly, leading to expensive septic system repairs.  The oils also reduce the absorbency of your towels and dishcloths.  SUBSTITUTE:  The tumbling action of the dryer is enough to keep your clothes and towels pliable and soft, and after you’ve washed your laundry several times to get the fabric softener off, your towels will be more absorbent!  Dryer balls are another alternative, but I feel they are not necessary because the tumbling action of the dryer is enough.  We have tried white vinegar as a liquid fabric softener substitute, but I neither saw nor felt any difference between that and going without.

STATIC:  No matter what you do or what you put in the dryer with your clothes, you will have static at some point — some times more than others, especially with fleece and during the winter when the air is dry.  Static does not cause any health issues, mechanical problems with the dryer, or anything more than little zaps on your fingers as you fold laundry.  As long as you do a quick check for socks that may be clinging in weird places, you’ll be alright.  Static won’t kill you.  SUBSTITUTE:  If you need a static reducer to ease your mind, try a sock with safety pins on it or some aluminum foil dryer balls.  Simply get a few pieces of foil (about a foot long) and wad them into balls and put them in the dryer.  We’ve tried these, and although I believe they reduce the static somewhat, they aren’t a miracle solution.

PRETTY SMELLS:  The scents in detergents and fabric softeners are strong and overpowering, which you will notice on other people after you’ve gone without fabric softener for a while.  Maybe someone in your family is allergic to scents and you need to find an alternative.  SUBSTITUTE:  If you insist on adding scents to your laundry, it can easily be done with essential oils on a small fabric cloth or pouch and putting it in the dryer with your laundry.  Please do not put anything flammable into your dryer!

Do you have laundry tips that save you money, energy, or are environmentally friendly??  If so, tell us about it!  The tips in this post (and lots of other cool information) can be found in my new eBook, Beyond the Coupon.  Click the link at the left side of the home page to check it out!

10 comments for “No More Fabric Softener

  1. Darcy
    January 29, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    I agree with you! I do, however, use dryer balls because it reduces drying time by moving the clothes more. It’s been a few years, but it saved a 1/2 hour of drying time when I first got them so I continue to use them.

    When the weather is good, I line dry and then just throw in the dryer with the balls for 20 minutes on air just to soften them up a little.

    More cost savers when it comes to laundry is to make your own laundry detergent and to use less detergent that what is called for. Clothes still get clean with less detergent and you don’t have to worry about build-up.

    • Cheri
      January 29, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      Great tips, Darcy! We use way less detergent as well. What kind of dryer balls do you use?

  2. Leanne
    January 29, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    SO, I am curious. I do use dryer sheets, but not with my towels. We have had such issues with static that my t-shirts this time of year wear like spandex. Will the foil help that?

    I used to make my own laundry soap, but stopped when we got the HE washing machine. I did not want to void the warranty on it. However, I am curious to know if either of you have an HE, and if you have used homemade soap in it? I made liquid, how much would you use per load?

    • Cheri
      January 29, 2014 at 6:17 pm

      I think the foil balls and the pinned sock helped a little when I tried them, but even then my shirts will get static just from getting them out of the dresser and unfolding them! Changing my clothes before bed is like a lightning storm. LOL We have an HE washer and we use Arm & Hammer unscented detergent — only about 2TBS per load at the most. That ends up being cheaper than the recommended “dose” of homemade detergent. When you crunch the numbers THAT MUCH, I’d rather just use a tiny bit of regular detergent than bother with making my own.

  3. Bobbi Moore
    January 29, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Fabric softener also gums up your dryer filter. I you run water over the screen filter you’ll see how clogged it is. Gently wash with warm water and dish soap, rinse well and replace. Then, stop using fabric softener. I prefer the line outside, weather permitting.

    • Cheri
      January 29, 2014 at 10:24 pm

      Good suggestion, Bobbi! I like the outdoor line, too. Crunchy towels are absorbent towels. 🙂

  4. Tom Lanctot
    January 21, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    Bacon fat is also good for greasing a pizza pans.
    Also my family left it out for vary long time and there was never an issue.

    • Cheri
      January 24, 2016 at 6:52 pm

      Good idea for the pizza pans — I’ll give that a try. Thanks!

  5. Janel
    June 19, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    Hi Cheri!
    I’m new to your YouTube channel and blog! I can’t seem to find where I can purchase your eBook Beyond The Coupon. Could you let me know if it is still available?
    Thanks so much,
    Janel in NJ

    • Cheri
      June 20, 2016 at 10:35 am

      Welcome, Janel! The eBook is not currently available. During the time I had it for sale, I only sold one copy, so I took it back down. I plan to review it and re-edit, then re-release it. Thank you for your interest! I need to get it off the back burner. 🙂

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