Everyone loves the feeling of soft fabric on their skin. No one wants to feel scratchy fibres and be in discomfort when they put their clothes on in the morning. This is why many people turn to fabric softeners, which not only add softness to the fabric, but also make the clothes smell amazing.
However, some reports indicate fabric softeners, both liquid and dryer sheets, are actually among the most toxic household products people regularly use. They are not good for your skin, nor are they a benefit to the environment.
With that in mind, how can you maintain soft fabric without using a commercial fabric softener? Is all hope lost? The good news is there are some really simple things you can try to make your clothes soft without adding chemicals.
Here are five green alternatives for fabric softener:
Yes, baking soda can actually soften your fabric! The baking soda softens the water, particularly if there is a lot of calcium, and helps to reduce static cling on your clothing.
Add between a quarter cup and half a cup of baking soda to your washing machine. Let it dissolve before you add your clothing, then run your laundry cycle as normal.
Once you wash your clothes, throw them in the dryer. Before you turn the dryer on, be sure to include a clean, dry towel with the wet clothes. Run the dryer cycle as you normally would, and watch the towel work wonders!
It helps dramatically soften the fabric and reduces static cling. No chemicals necessary! You do not even need to go buy anything at the store, since everyone will have at least one towel in their home.
Crumpled Aluminum Foil
The uses for aluminum foil are not limited to your kitchen! Crumple a piece of aluminum foil into a ball and throw it into your dryer as you would with a dryer sheet. This will help agitate the fabric to both soften it and to reduce static cling.
Note that you should watch when using these with delicate items, and always pay attention when crumpling the foil. Make sure no edges of foil stick out, as it might cause damage to delicate fabric. If you do it properly, however, it is perfectly safe.
You can skip the dryer entirely and just let your clothes air dry! This is best done on a clothing line outside in nice weather, though you may also purchase a clothing dry rack to set up in your laundry room (or elsewhere in your home).
Hanging your clothes out to dry helps them retain any softness gained from the washing (e.g. from using the baking soda method) and eliminates static, since you are not putting the clothes into the dryer.
Did you know including a tennis ball with your clothes in the dryer can perform almost the same function as an effective dryer sheet? Your clothes will have far less (or even no) static cling. The agitation the tennis ball introduces also plays a role in keeping your fabric just a little bit softer.
If you do use this method, we suggest using a lower heat setting for your dryer to help protect the tennis ball. It will take longer for your clothes to dry, obviously, but it will turn out better results in the end. So, why not?