There is nothing quite like the sensations of laundry fresh out of the dryer that's been treated with any number of commercial fabric softeners. So why bother making it yourself? I can think of a couple reasons:
ALLERGIES. If you take yourself or you kids to the dermatologist because of some kind of skin irritation, prepare for the first question: Do you use fabric softener? According to the Mayo Clinic the offending ingredients in fabric softeners are quaternium and imidazolidinyl, both of which can cause hives and skin irritations. The "fumes" from fabric softeners for some can lead to tiredness, difficulty breathing, anxiety, dizziness, headaches, faintness and memory troubles.
COST. Depending on the brand, both liquid fabric softeners and dryer sheets can cost up to $.15 per dryer load. But why pay for the stuff, if you have an option to not spend your money that way? You can make your own fabric softeners for less than a penny a load and know exactly what's in it. Consider these options:
Option No. 1. The easiest homemade fabric softener is plain white vinegar. Add 1 cup of white vinegar to the last washer rinse. Vinegar is cheap and nontoxic, effective and antimicrobial. It helps to remove every last bit of detergent and aids in static reduction during drying.
Option No. 2. Combine six parts water, three parts white vinegar and two parts hair conditioner in a container with a sealable lid. A cheap bottle of hair conditioner from the dollar store works great to soften and also fragrance your laundry. Use this in the final rinse or fill the softener dispenser in your washer.
Option No. 3. To make your own dryer sheets, cut square of cloth from an old t-shirt or cotton baby blanket. Place them in a sealable container with tight-fitting lid. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup white vinegar and eight drops of your favorite essential oil, such as lemon, lavender or peppermint. Pour enough of this liquid over the cloths in the container to saturate them. Close the container. To use, simply remove a sheet from the container, squeezing any excess liquid back into the jar, and toss into the dryer.
Option No. 4. Here's a great way to cut the cost of your favorite liquid softener: Mix one part fabric softener with three parts distilled water, and pour into a spray bottle. Spray the inside of your dryer before tossing your clothes in the dryer. This option works amazingly well and will make that bottle of softener seem to last forever. Just that small amount will soften and fragrance an entire load of laundry.
Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website. You can email her at [email protected], or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630. To find out more about Mary Hunt and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.