Kitchen Hint: Natural fabric softener

by Catherine Haug, January 6, 2013

To see all kitchen hints on this site, see: Kitchen Hints. If you’d like to submit a kitchen hint, send it to me and I’ll publish it. Note that if you don’t want your name used, just let me know.

The following hint comes from a new member of our community, Sheree Tompkins.

Vinegar as natural fabric softener

“Instead of using Downy or other liquid fabric softeners in your Downy Ball, fill it with white vinegar, close it and toss it into the washer with your clothes. It will open in the spin cycle and make all your clothes soft and static free, (providing you don’t over-dry). They will smell fresh but most importantly, they will be chemical-free!”

Cat’s Notes:

Vinegar will remove the soapy residue in your clothes (just like it keeps soap scum from forming, or removes soap scum after it has formed in your sink, tub or washing machine).

Do your clothes smell like vinegar after drying? No. Plus it may remove other odors as well.

What if you don’t have a Downy Ball? Most washing machines have a rinse cycle receptacle that you fill before you start the machine. If your machine doesn’t have this, you can manually add the vinegar to the rinse cycle. Use about 1/2 cup of inexpensive white or cider vinegar.

Or you can buy just the Downy ball (without the Downy). See Amazon for more information.

Why not just use Downy or Bounce? A 2011 University of Washington study reported in Science Daily  used  the top-selling scented fabric softener and dryer sheets and then analyzed the air from the dryer vents and found 7 hazardous air pollutants. “Of those, two chemicals — acetaldehyde and benzene — are classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as carcinogens. Those chemicals coat the clothing to make them feel softer. Then they rub against your skin every day, all day, unless you walk around au naturel. And you have to assume the chemicals are absorbed by your skin. Isn’t that how nicotine and birth control patches work?”

Works in the dishwasher rinse cycle, too (from a comment on the Repurposeful blog post about vinegar as a rinse additive).  BTW, I have added the link to the Repurposeful blog to our links column, under ‘Sustainability Links’ (near the bottom of the page)

See also my post: Kitchen Hints: Uses for Vinegar or Our Homemade Happiness (blog) for lots more ideas.

Comments are closed.