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  • Valinda

5 Alternatives to Fabric Softener

Updated: Oct 12, 2022

There are not many people who like doing laundry, but there are even fewer who do not like the smell of clean and fresh laundry. So, regardless of the fact that doing laundry is a tedious chore, we must regularly do it, and we often add fabric softener to get that great smell and tenderness in our clothes.

Yes, the basic idea behind the fabric softener is great: it makes clothes feel soft, protects them from wear and tear, and many producers say it helps retain the color and the brightness of the clothes, among others.

But, did you know that the traditional fabric softener is made of many chemicals and artificial components, which are proven to have a negative effect on both human health and the environment? Moreover, when you add fabric softener to every wash, these adverse effects will only build up over time, making your health exposed more and more.

For example, we now know for sure that it can lead to issues with breathing and even trigger asthma. It also can irritate sensitive skin, especially in infants and toddlers. (This is why it is recommended not to use fabric softener at all on their clothes, linens, and all textiles!)

As if this is not enough, fabric softener can damage certain materials, including cashmere, wool, swimwear, microfiber, terry cloth, and clothes filled with down and feather. Also, many types of fabric softeners are not biodegradable, harming the environment in this way. And lastly, they make doing laundry more costly.


So, taking into consideration that we all love it when our clothes smell fresh and pleasant, but at the same time we want to do our best to protect our health (and especially of our children!) and the environment as well, is there an alternative?

I have rounded up a couple of sustainable and natural alternatives to using instead of fabric softener, and you only have to pick the one that suits your needs best. (And do not worry, if you do not like it, try others, you will find the best one in no time for sure!)

Go without fabric softener

Yes, try washing your clothes without any fabric softener. However, you probably will not notice any difference at all because of the build-up on the clothes and in the washer, and it will take several washes to wash it out. Also, many detergents on the market today are already formulated to help soften fabrics, so likely, and you will not notice any difference at all.

When it comes to the protection of the color of your clothes, washing colors at the right temperature will ward off fading naturally, so there is no need for fabric softener as well. Besides, it saves you lots of money!

alternatives to fabric softener

Fabric Softener Laundry Pods

These pods have all the benefits of the traditional fabric softener but without the negative part: they will keep your laundry smelling fresh and clean and will reduce static as well. In addition, the unique formula will keep your towels absorbent. Moreover, they have natural scents (lavender eucalyptus), which will bring relaxation every time you smell your clothes. Finally, their packaging is made of cardboard, making recycling easy.

dropps fabric softener


Yes, good, old, plain white vinegar will do wonders for your clothes. Not only will it make your clothes soft, but it will prevent static and remove foul odors. Moreover, some research shows it can destroy harmful bacteria. White vinegar is excellent for your washing machine because it will clean it every time you add it to your load as well.

If you wonder how much vinegar you need per load, it is usually recommended to add ¼ cup instead of regular fabric softener in the fabric softener dispenser. And do not worry, your clothes will not smell vinegar as it dissolves during the wash. If you want to add some scent, add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oils to the vinegar.

As mentioned, white vinegar is excellent for cleaning your washing machine. It is recommended that you run your machine empty with two cups of white vinegar (you can add baking soda as well) a couple of times a year to keep your machine clean because everybody knows that a clean machine means clean clothes.

Vinegar has many great uses all around the household; adding it to your laundry is just one of them!



Suppose you already use soapnuts instead of a regular laundry detergent for your clothes. In that case, there is no need to add the fabric softener because the soapnuts work differently than regular detergent, leaving no residue on your clothes (that is why clothes feel stiff after being washed with the laundry detergent). If you are using soap nuts, you can add white vinegar to the rinsing cycle, if you wish.

Eco Laundry Powder

This Eco Laundry Powder is an excellent solution for washing your clothes and is available in several different scents, which will remove the need to add fabric softener to make your wash smell great. Choose between lavender, lemon, and the combination of lemon, lavender, and clove so your clothes will smell fresh every time you wash them. In addition, the Eco Laundry Powder is made of all-natural ingredients (like baking soda and coconut oil), which will leave your clothes clean and soft.

meloira eco laundry powder

In a word, there are many great alternatives to traditional fabric softeners; some of my favorites are listed here. All of them will keep your clothes smelling fresh and pleasant but will not do any harm to your health or the environment because they are made from natural ingredients with proven effects related to keeping your clothes smelling fresh and clean. Also, you do not have to worry about adverse effects on your health and the health of your children. Moreover, most of them are packed in environmentally-friendly packaging, so there will be no waste going to the landfill after you have used them all up.

More sustainable laundry

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Meet Valinda

Hi there, I am the founder of the green and happy mom blog and green and happy shop. After battling severe depression, I am determined to make the world a little better and I want to take you along that journey with me. 

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