Bin Your Fabric Softener!

Miss Thrifty10 April 7, 2009

vinegar-fabric-softener White vinegar comes in handy: it’s an ingredient in my thrifty leather food, and I also use it when I’m mixing up my own kitchen and bathroom cleaner. I buy the stuff in bulk: this five-litre vat (left) from Summer Naturals costs £4.99 and lasts forever. You can also buy five-litre bottles of white vinegar from Chinese supermarkets.

When we lived in America, I noticed that some of my friends there kept five-litre bottles of white vinegar next to their washing machines. They told me it made an excellent fabric softener, among other things. Since we came back to the UK, this has been playing on my mind. It would be great if white vinegar worked to soften clothes – but how would it work, exactly? And what if it made my clothes smell of chip shops?

Right now I’m on a roll when it comes to laundry – I’m nuts about my eco-friendly soap nuts – so I decided to throw caution to the wind and try out the vinegar. I wasn’t going to test it on my own pretty garments, but my husband provided me with the ideal opportunity. He decided to do the laundry, carefully picked out all his own clothes for the machine, then left his wet washing mouldering inside the drum for a couple of days. Perfect! And if the clothes smelled of chip shop afterwards, so be it. I put the load through the machine again, and added a slosh of white vinegar into the fabric softener compartment.

I’m delighted to report that when the clothes came out of the machine, they were soft and smelled absolutely fine. There was no vinegary whiff. I have no idea how or why the vinegar works, but it does. I’ve put a number of loads through since then, and the vinegar has worked fine every time!

I still have no idea how vinegar works as well as Lenor, but I recommend it. It’s a cheap, eco-friendly alternative to those expensive bottles of pastel-coloured, sweet-smelling gloop that are piled high on the supermarket shelves.

White vinegar: I love it.

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10 Responses to “Bin Your Fabric Softener!

apieceofwood says:

I keep meaning to try this…

April 9, 2009 at 5:15 am

F.G. says:

I can’t believe how well this works. Now I can be really frugal !

April 19, 2009 at 10:20 pm

Mark Woods says:

Wow must try this

April 25, 2009 at 10:14 am

Mark Woods says:

Well I tried it and loved it. I also used about half water half vinegar and then added some lemongrass essential oil into a spray bottle and it was great on hard water stains which I have due to living in a very hard water area

April 29, 2009 at 2:05 pm

admin says:

@apieceofwood @F.G. Oh, do try it!

@Mark Woods So pleased it worked for you! Lemongrass essential oil is a great idea – I don’t use any fragrance when I do this, but my clothes still come out feeling soft and smelling sweet.

– Miss T.

April 29, 2009 at 11:17 pm

Sophie M says:

I tried this and nothing happened. How much do you put in? I put in the same amount as I would fabric softener…

My towels are still like sandpaper and as someone allergic to fabric softener it’s a bit of a pain!

June 13, 2010 at 12:56 pm

missthrifty says:

Oh no, Sophie – sorry to hear that.

You do need more than a (fabric softener) capful though. I suggested a slosh above – perhaps I should have been more specific.

Try doubling or tripling the amount, and see if that works.

Another idea: you may need more if you use lots of laundry soap. When I wrote this post (over a year ago), I didn’t know how the vinegar worked as softener; now I know that it “cuts through” the soap residue. It’s the soap that is making your towels crunchy, rather than the lack of softener.

I use soap nuts (see separate post) rather than laundry soap, as they work just as well – and the soap nuts + vinegar combination leaves my laundry super-soft.

Hope this helps. If you have further problems, let me know and we’ll work on a solution.

June 13, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Anne Summers says:

When you have used normal laundry soap for years and years the fibres in the fabrics trap the soap powder – you could wash your clothes up to 5 times with no washing powder at all and there still be enough washing powder trapped in the fibers to wash the clothes. Once clothes are dried they can be hard due to the trapped washing powder. White vinegar helps to break down the trapped washing powder though for a new user, this may take a while. Also hard water areas can cause clothes to be hard and crunchy, this is where white vinegar can also help and does remove the need for chemical filled fabric conditioner.

August 31, 2010 at 8:35 pm

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