But as it turns out:
#1- it is getting to be pricey using them at the rate I do and
#2- liquid fabric softeners and dryer sheets are full of chemical and toxins. That concerns me. Ingredient lists can include ethanol, chloroform, and phthalates, just to name a few. Some ingredients have been linked to cancers and nervous system disorders. Basically, you are wearing and breathing harmful toxins all the time when you use these products. Dont' believe me? Read more here.
Because of these two things, I decided to seek some alternatives. I am trying to create a more frugal, as well as healthier, lifestyle for my husband and I, and this is just another small step.
I'm sure anyone with a pinterest account has seen some of the tutorials on ways to freshening and soften fabric in cheaper and more healthy ways. I've been trying a few out, and as I run out of laundry products I intend to try some more. But so far, what I have encountered is so much cheaper and works just as well!
First off, homemade fabric softener. (I'll be posting my dry ball alternatives next!)
I compared some various other bloggers recipes and suggestions and simplified them all into my own concoction. WHITE VINEGAR+CHEAP CONDITIONER and some WATER.
Me and Snuggle were buddies for a while. Boy, that stuff smells good, but the list of nastiness in the ingredients isn't as enjoyable. Have you ever noticed a lot of fabric softeners have a warning to not use on baby clothes? Its cause they can be harmful! I also have really sensitive skin and easily react to chemicals and fragrances.
At first, this new idea had me a little concerned. Vinegar and conditioner? Really? I was especially concerned because my husband hates (with a passion) the smell vinegar (I mean, to the extent I can't eat things like salad dressing, pickles or salt and vinegar chips while he is home). And I have to agree, it smells pretty bad. But I promise you, once it goes through with your laundry cycle there will not be a trace of vinegar smell left on your clothes.
To make the softener I simply used an empty bottle of my prior fabric softener, 5 cups of hot water, 4 cups of white vinegar, and half the bottle (between 2 and 3 cups) of Cheap Conditioner that I picked up at the dollar store. I used Suave, in the Ocean Breeze scent, but any brand or scent of conditioner you like would work as well. The conditioner is just the scenting agent and also helps with static clinging. Some sites recommend mixing it in a big pot on the stove, but frankly I didn't want conditioner and vinegar on my pots, and knowing me, I'd spill it all in the transfer anyhow. I just dumped the ingredients into the empty (cleaned out) plastic bottle and gave it a good shaking.
When I do laundry (which I do a lot of thanks to the US Air Force and its uniforms) I simply use the existing fabric softener cap, about half a cap full, and add it into the fabric softener area of my washing machine. The initial smell is vinegary, but as promised, after the cycle it through the clothes smell fresh! The cost is great too! $1 for the conditioner and some vinegar out of the over-a-gallon- jug a keep on hand (about $2). I intend to experiment with other scents of conditioner (lavender!?) to see which I like best.
I've been using this new softener for a month now and I, fabric softener addict that I was, am surprisingly pleased with the results!
Stay tuned for a post on dry ball alternatives! Also, as soon as I finish up what I already have in my laundry room, I am going to try my hand at making my own laundry soap! Let me know if you guys give it a try!
End note: Of course, there are some bad chemicals and frangrances involved in conditioner as well, but it is the lesser of two evils here. I am going to keep researching and see if there is something else that can be added to the vinegar instead of conditioner that would serve the same dual frangrance/softening purpose, but is more natural. Buying expensive natural conditioner seems to defeat the whole frugality side of this project, but I so far haven't encountered any other options. (Any ideas?) For now, this is an improvement.
*UPDATE: I found a more natural method HERE. Baking soda, vinegar, water and essential oils. I'll have to try this one next!