Through my latest book, Clean Mama’s Guide to a Healthy Home  I guide you through my findings about what is in our homes and our daily-use products. If you’ve followed along on Clean Mama you know that I am all about natural products that are truly safe for your family.

Along the way I have recommended products that I believed to be 100% safe that actually weren’t. I corrected those inconsistencies and started making my own DIY cleaners as a result. You can see my DIY cleaning recipes here on the blog. I wrote a whole book on DIY cleaners back in 2014 here and a book on my cleaning routine complete with simple and safe DIY recipes – Simply Clean, 2017. I’m really excited to share some Healthy Home Swaps with you. This is a series intended to test out known safe products and simply share my findings and opinions with you, hopefully making a swap a little bit easier. I’ll continue to test out products with the hope that you’ll consider swapping out your everyday product for a safe alternative.

Today’s installment? Fabric Softener. This post is probably going to have quite a few of you sending me emails of disbelief, but I am here to tell you that your laundry products probably aren’t as safe as you think they are. Honestly, through my extensive research I’ve come to the conclusion that laundry products can be the most dangerous products in our homes. Why? We wear clothes, pajamas, and sleep in bedding that is laundered in detergent and fabric softener. We don’t get away from the chemicals that are in laundry products. Most conventional fabric softeners and dryer sheets contain artificial fragrances and ingredients that are known to cause and/or exacerbate existing respiratory and asthmatic irritations and problems. These ingredients are toxic and harmful to anyone, not just people with existing problems. Don’t just assume that something is safe because the company says it is or because the product says ’natural’.  Go here to see how rates fabric softeners. I aim for A’s when I recommend products. Take a peek at how many fabric softeners receive an ‘A’. Out of 185 products, there are 2 brands that get an ‘A’.  These aren’t products that are found at your local stores but you can find them on Amazon and on their websites however, if you look at the ingredients they still have allergy and asthma concerns. My overall recommendation for fabric softener is to skip the conventional fabric softener.

Here are a couple popular fabric softeners and how they rate – click the links to check it out for yourself:
Downy – Dryer Sheets + Liquid – D
Bounce Dryer Sheets – D
Gain – C
Mrs. Meyers – sheets – C
Mrs. Meyers – Liquid – D
Caldrea – Softener + Sheets – D
Seventh Generation – Liquid – D and Sheets – B
Ecover – C

Why should you worry about what is in your cleaning products? You guys! There is little to no regulation on ingredients and what is considered safe so you need to do your research and decide what you are okay with. I’ll be sharing information with you in little doses here and there as I always have been but I hope you understand that you should be concerned.

Here is how I use these products in my home:


  • Wool dryer balls are designed to take the place of dryer sheets and fabric softener.
  • Fabric softeners 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 might find it hard to make the switch to something natural if it’s unscented.
  • Wool dryer balls reduce drying time.
  • Soften clothes for up to 1000 loads of laundry – depending on how much laundry you do, that’s probably at least 3 years!
  • NO waste, eco-friendly.
  • They shouldn’t contain any dyes or perfumes.
  • Wool is biodegradable and naturally antimicrobial – nothing is added to make them antimicrobial. The only benefit of this that I’ve found is that it keeps the dryer balls from getting stinky through repeated use – it’s not making your clothes anti-microbial.

Want more information?  Here’s a post with all my tips for wool dryer balls.


  • Simply add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser or one of those fabric softener balls.
  • The white vinegar will act as a fabric softener AND it will keep your washing machine smelling fresh and clean!
  • I’m not a fan of the smell of white vinegar (shocker!) and I can guarantee that you will NOT smell any vinegar on your laundry.
  • Why would you want to switch to vinegar as a fabric softener? Most conventional fabric softeners and dryer sheets are not only toxic, but they also coat fibers making clothes and towels harder to clean because they build up with fabric softener.

Want more information?  Here’s a post with all my tips for using white vinegar as a fabric softener.

Please note that none of these companies know that I am talking about their products, this is just me testing out products for efficacy and most importantly safety and passing that information on to you. I have added referral links when they are available (my policy is here.)

Here’s how they come out on price:

White Vinegar – it’s currently $3.69 for 1.32 gallons (I buy the Heinz White Vinegar jug from Costco – I tried to grab you a link on Amazon but the prices are super high). I use about 1/4 cup of white vinegar per load so that figures out to be about 4 cents a load.  Here’s how the Heinz vinegar rates on (it’s an A with zero concerns)

Wool Dryer Balls (I recommend the ones in my shop) – $19.99 for 1000 loads of laundry – that’s just under 2 cents per load.  If you do a load of laundry every day, the typical wool dryer ball set will last you about 3 years – that’s a bargain in my book.

I use BOTH white vinegar and wool dryer balls in most loads of laundry so that comes out to be about 6 cents per load.  Still cheaper than most conventional fabric softeners!

Have you ever contemplated what’s in your fabric softener? What are your thoughts?

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.

Find the best Clean Mama Laundry Products here in the shop!