4 Ways to Naturally Soften and Freshen Your Laundry - Clean Mama copy

Most conventional fabric softeners and dryer sheets are not only toxic (read more here from the Environmental Working Group or EWG.com), but they also coat fibers making clothes and towels harder to clean because they build up with the fabric softener. If you love your fabric softener and dryer sheets and love that scent that’s associated with clean laundry, you probably don’t want to make the switch to something natural if it’s unscented. I have 4 natural alternatives that are not only inexpensive, they’re natural, non-toxic AND they work. Combine them to suit your needs or just use one – you’ll be a natural fabric softener user in no time.

VINEGAR (soften) – Simply add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser or one of those fabric softener balls. I love this for sheets and towels – it will make your towels unexpectedly soft and fluffy. If you need a little scent, feel free to add 20-30 drops of your favorite essential oil(s) to about 16 ounces of vinegar. Shake before each use because the oils will separate from the vinegar and you don’t want any oil on your laundry. I keep my white vinegar in a glass bottle (this is the same bottle that comes with my spray bottles if you’re interested.)

White Vinegar Fabric Softener - Clean Mama

WOOL DRYER BALLS (reduces static and can lightly scent if you use essential oils) – Wool is naturally antibacterial making it awesome for using in the laundry. Place  3  wool dryer balls in with each load of laundry. Wool dryer balls will last up to 1,000 uses making this an inexpensive dryer sheet alternative. Put a couple drops of essential oil on each ball if you’d like a little scent.

Wool Dryer Balls - Clean Mama

DIY LAUNDRY SCENT BOOSTER (adds scent) – if you love those commercial scent boosters this is the recipe for you! It’s definitely more subtle but I’ll take subtle and safe any day. (You can see more instructions on this post.)

Laundry Scent Booster - Clean Mama

Add 1 tablespoon of the Laundry Scent Booster directly to the washer and wash as usual.

Add Laundry Booster to Washing Machine - Clean Mama

DIY FLANNEL MINI DRYER SHEETS (adds scent to the dryer) – If you need to use a dryer sheet, this is the perfect alternative.

Flannel Dryer Sheets - Clean Mama

  • 20 or so small pieces of flannel or cotton (I used these bamboo cotton ones – they are fabulous!)
  • 20-30 drops essential oil
  • mason jar (available in Clean Mama Home)

Add the ‘dryer sheets’ to a container and add essential oils. Keep the lid off until the ‘sheets’ have completely dried – at least a day or two. Add a sheet or two to each dryer cycle – wash and refill when the scent has dissipated.

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I purchased the chalkboard sticker label and pen set from Amazon here if you’re interested.


If you love essential oils or are just getting started, here are a couple of my favorite combos – try one for your laundry, you’ll love it! Find essential oils in my shop here.

Essential Oils for Laundry - Clean Mama

What do you think? Ready to hop on the DIY fabric softener train? I bet you’ll never look back!

More posts in this series – just click on the image to go to the post and check out my books, Simply Clean, and The Organically Clean Home:

One Ingredient Odor Absorbers - Clean Mama

Nightly Sink Scrub - Clean Mama

Marble + Granite Cleaning Spray - Clean Mama

Soft Cleaning Paste - the perfect scrub - Clean Mama

All-Purpose Spray - Clean Just About Anywhere Spary - Clean Mama

The Perfect DIY Glass Cleaner - Clean Mama

DIY Cleaners Ingredient Storage - Clean Mama