How to Make a Simple & Naturally Scented Fabric Softener

fabric softenerEasy to make, low-cost, and totally customizable, these “crystals” will leave your laundry soft and smelling lovely. The baking soda added in will naturally make whites whiter, and pull out even the toughest stains. Being an alkaline substance (opposite of acidic) it can neutralize the acid in stains that come from various cleaners, urine, or vomit. It is also environmentally friendly and perfect for people who have sensitive skin.

How to Make Homemade Fabric Softener- with natural ingredients & scents. You would be surprised at the toxic chemicals found in store-bought fabric softeners.

To top it off, it won’t harm fragile fabrics, and it is a brilliant odor remover in the sense that it actually gets rid of smells…it doesn’t mask them with perfumey scents like other fabric softeners do.

You will need…
-2 cups of Epsom salt or course sea salt
-20-30 drops of your favorite essential oil or blend of scents
-1/2 cup baking soda
-A container with a tightly fitting lid
-A marker

fabric softener ingredients

Mix together 2 cups of Epsom salt or course sea salt and add 20-30 drops of your favorite essential oil-we used lemon for its bright, refreshing scent.

Stir in the essential oil before mixing in ½ cup of baking soda (alternately, you can leave out the baking soda, and add it separately, which works well.)

After mixing together pour into a container with a tightly fitting lid and label it if you plan on making more with different scents. Use 2-3 tablespoons and toss in with your clothes before rinsing. If using the baking soda separately, add half a cup to each load.

epsom salt
lemon essential oil

baking soda

natural softener

You can double this recipe if you’d like, and adjust the amount of essential oil if you want it to smell stronger/weaker.

Why make your own fabric softener?

I make homemade fabric softener because, like so many other mass-market products, what seems like it should be harmless actually contains some pretty nasty stuff. Fabric softener sounds innocent enough, but it’s far from it. Not only are many kinds bad for the environment, but they contain chemicals that impregnate fabrics that can be released over time and absorbed into your skin or inhaled. Among softener components are benzyl acetate (linked to pancreatic cancer), benzyl alcohol (irritates the upper respiratory tract) and chloroform (a neurotoxin and carcinogen.) To top it off, many of them are petroleum based, which takes a toll on a non-renewable resource and is not very bio-degradable.

P.S. Click here to download my free Coconut Oil eBook. It has over 107 everyday coconut oil uses, including uses for- weight loss, pet health, hair, skin, house cleaning, pests, DIY beauty products and so much more.

+ Make sure to claim your free jar of organic coconut oil (while supplies last)

By Claire Goodall

Claire is a lover of life, the natural world, and wild blueberries. On the weekend you can find her fiddling in the garden, playing with her dogs, and enjoying the great outdoors with her horse. Claire is very open-minded, ask her anything :) Meet Claire


We Want to Hear from You! Let us know which remedies work and do not work for you, ask a question or leave a comment:


  1. Diann says:

    how about static? will this fabric softener help get rid of static cling? or do you know something that would?

    • lisa says:

      Put a tennis ball into the dryer with your clothing, it will reduce static cling AND soften clothes.

    • Aurora says:

      I use this softener; in addition, I use about 1/4 cup vinegar that has a few drops of essential oil added. I have found that this combination, along with my homemade detergent, has resulted in zero static. And that says alot, as I I live in a very dry climate with lots of static everywhere! This is the first combination that has resulted in no static, and I have been doing laundry for probably 30 years.

    • Deborah says:

      I had read an article that said take 3 pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil about 12 to 14 inches long crumple up one into a ball. Then take the second piece and wrap/crumple it around the first one now do the same with the last one. Don’t worry about making it perfect and super tight. Now toss it in the dryer with your regular load. I didn’t think it would work but hey, I had foil so what the heck. I was shocked – no static!! My family have done at least 20 loads so far and that foil ball is still going! Don’t know why it works so well but it does. It gets a little smaller each time and smoother – my husband loves to check it after each load. Give it a try – it works – still haven’t had to change it out yet.

    • Vicky says:

      Just made this fabric softener today using Lemon & Lime essential oils. My clothes have never been softer,

  2. Kristin says:

    Is there a way to make a liquid version of this? It’s much more convenient to add the softener in the beginning instead of having to catch it before the rinse cycle. Thanks:)

    • Claire (Everyday Roots) says:

      Sorry about the confusion, you can add it in at the very beginning. I meant “wash” instead “rinse”

      • Susan P says:

        Just so I get this right, you add it to the beginning with the regular laundry soap? Will it work with cold water? I’m very appreciative of this post. I’m going to try it out. Thanks.

  3. Nancy says:

    Aluminum foil balls reduce static. When they get worn apply another layer or so of more foil. I make mine initially about tennis ball size. I use four.

  4. Pam B says:

    So how could/would this work with a front loading machine? I can’t “toss in” during the rinse cycle.

    • Claire (Everyday Roots) says:

      Apologies for not being very clear-you can add it at the beginning. I wan’t thinking when I used the word “rinse” I just meant before you start “washing”… :)

    • dee says:

      Go buy one of the Downy balls for your washer ,,put it in in the beginning of the wash like you normally do:)

  5. Kathleen says:

    The only bad thing about this for me is that my washer is in the garage, and short of standing right there ALL the time, I have NO way of knowing when my rinse cycle starts.

  6. Claire (Everyday Roots) says:

    Alrightly well I botched the wording on this one. You can put it in at the start, when put your clothes in the machine. You don’t have to catch it during the rinse cycle. Sorry folks!

  7. Myiesha says:

    What about HE washers, will it work then? Can I add it to the compartment for fabric softner?

    • Claire (Everyday Roots) says:

      Yes to both questions :)

    • Vicky says:

      I have an HE washer and both the Epsom salts and baking soda stated HE user friendly. I added one heaping tbsp into the fabric softener tray, turned on the washer and walked away . I made jars of this for my grown children today too!

  8. Mamabird says:

    How much per load? Thankyou for sharing with us.

  9. Susie says:

    Just to clarify…for a front loader HE washing machine, we can add this preparation to the fabric softener compartment? Or do we put this in the detergent compartment? It would be nice to not have to use commercial fabric softener. We have terrible static due to our arid climate here.

    • Claire (Everyday Roots) says:

      It can be added to the fabric softener compartment or just tossed in straight with the clothes , I hope it works out for you! Static can be such a hassle with clothes…and don’t even get me started on hair :p

    • Edie says:

      I would think it would be fine tossed in with the clothes. The ‘laundry enhancer’ crystals such as Purex go in an HE front loader tub prior to the clothes and they are essentially Epsom salts, coloring and fragrance. I have read other blogs where comments have been made that the Epsom salts can leave a film of sorts on clothes. I haven’t used them yet myself (still using up store bought products) so I can’t really say how accurate this is. It’s just something of which you should be aware.

  10. flor says:

    what if I don’t use a dryer and I use an open area outside to dry our clothes, will it work the same?

  11. janet says:

    i’d have to wonder if this would be safe for septic tanks. i started making my own cold processed soap and then use it to make homemade laundry soap, at first i used white vinegar in my downy ball to get the soap residue completely out and it helped with static if they were dried in the dryer as well but heard that vinegar isn’t great to use in septic systems.. So instead i just use the homemade laundry soap in the washer and toss in 3 of my wool dryer balls that i made and works great for the static, very noticeable difference when i forget to toss them in as i did last night..LOL you can find recipe’s online for homemade laundry soap (very cheap to use ) and for the wool felted balls..

    • Whitney says:

      I don’t know if anyone will actually see this now…but there’s no reason this would damage your septic tank. Only baking soda or acids like vinegar in very, very large quantities can damage your septic, and you couldn’t possibly do enough laundry to elicit an emergency. It’s better for your septic to use natural products because it allows the septic to work as its own self-regulator.

  12. Lourdes says:

    Thank you for this homemade laundry softner recipe. I already know it’s a $ saver. I’m just getting started with this do-it-yourself style of living. I’ve made smoothies, gluten-free crust pizza, gluten free cake, home-made taboulleh but need to branch out to other household areas. And with your easy-to-follow recipes gives me great encouragement.

    • Claire (Everyday Roots) says:

      Welcome to the world of the DIY lifestyle! Your food sounds wonderful. It always seems so intimidating to start making other things like cleaning products on your own, but once you get in the hang of it I think its easier to make than most baked goods out there ;)

  13. Diann says:

    thanx so much for the info! i’m wondering how epsom salts would be for plants? my washing machine is plumbed to save the grey water!

  14. Connie says:

    I didn’t see the answer to Janet’s question about this being safe for septic systems?

  15. stacy says:

    thank you so very much for your reciepes can i please start getting your email updates and new ideas?

  16. Heidi says:

    Where do you find essential oils??

  17. Robbin says:

    Thanks for this recipe. Could you use fresh lemon juice instead of essential oil?

  18. mabelyn says:

    Now if you can tell me how to stop leaves on my plant from turning yellowand getting black spots before they die.

  19. lindielee says:

    I’m horrible at math – can someone help me?
    I would like to put dilued Epsom salt in my machines fabric softener holder (in middle of the agitator.
    Putting salt crystals with water didn’t dilute however, I blended the crystals in water and that can be held in the holder til rinse cycle.
    Now…for you math brains. In a mason jar how much Epsom salt per water rachio do I need per load in my dispenser?

  20. Melissa says:

    Could we add water to the mixture and store it as regular liquid fabric softener adding it to the downy ball? I miss the “fresh” smell. I’ve been using a vinegar/water mix and it works, but. . . It’s not the same :(

  21. Allianne says:

    Just made some and can’t wait to try it! Wondering what the reasons are for using salt. Is it to hold the scent or does it also help soften clothes or any other reasons?

  22. Heather says:

    Ok…I made this last night. I used it in a load of towels and they didn’t seem any softer, and there was MAYBE a light scent of the essential oil…I even put two tablespoons in at the beginning and two at rinse because I couldn’t smell anything at the rinse. Also when I made this, it was a lot more than you have shown above in your pics, it is over half (maybe 3/4) of a large mason jar Help please???

    • Kim says:

      I made it just today. In my first load I put it in the fabric softener compartment with a bit of vinegar to make it more liquid but it didn’t all go out into the water as there was some left behind. So in the next load I just put it in on the clothes to go through the wash part of the cycle. I had to get out of the mind set I’ve been in with it being something to smell in the end and look at it as softening the clothes in general and not so much after smell. No my clothes don’t smell a lot like my scent I created but the clothes came out of the dryer smelling fresh and clean and NO static cling! I also made a double batch.

    • Tanya says:

      The reason your clothes weren’t any softer is because Epsom salt actually hardens your water instead of softening It. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate. Rock salt or kosher salt is what you want to use. There is alot of misinformed people out there.

      • Maria says:

        That’s what I was wondering Tanya, Epsom Salt is Magnesium (and not actual salt) which is one of the elements that make water hard, cling on clothes, making them stiff. However, sea salt is the mineral else called sodium chloride, very different to magnesium (although sea salt contains a bit of magnesium also). So, I was surprised it was either/or.

  23. Susan Leonard says:

    Vinegar does not harm septic systems. According to the information I found, it is actually beneficial.

  24. Victoria says:

    why do you need essential oils?

    • Kim says:

      You don’t “need” them, I think it was just a way to give a nice scent you like. I actually thought about not adding the oils AFTER I had already mixed it up. Next time I think I’m going to opt for leaving them out. =)

  25. Sharon says:

    I have been using 2-3 TBL of just epsom salts or epsom salts with EO added. I add it with my detergent at the start of the cycle.

  26. Christi Dea says:

    Brilliant! Commercial Fabric Softeners can be extremely dangerous because the chemicals they put on your clothes later come in contact with your skin and can actually leach into your blood stream, or so says Dr. Pompa and Dr. Mercola, leaders in environmental health. Another great alternative is to use dryer balls! They fluff and separate your laundry during the drying process, eliminate static cling and reduce drying time by up to 15 minutes, thus reducing your electric bill! You can ditch those dryer sheets that give some folks fits as they try to walk their neighborhoods. I actually have a couple of friends who can’t walk in their own neighborhoods because of the fragrances emanating from their neighbors dryer vents! Crazy huh? Dryer balls can be found at many retail stores and online. I sell them myself through a company called Norwex. They are great

  27. Christi Dea says:

    Hey, for those of you missing the “fresh scent” of your commercial fabric softener you can get some wool dryer balls and add essential oils to them to scent your laundry without chemicals. Lots of companies make them, including the one I work with, Norwex. They reduce dryer time, fluff laundry and naturally eliminate static cling. Choose whatever scent you want by adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil and REUSE over and over for years! Dryer balls typically reduce drying time by 15 minutes per load

  28. Judi Paul says:

    I use this recipe but also with white vinegar in my front load. My question is when I mix the dry ingredients with the vinegar it fizzes. I stir till it stops then add it to my softener tray. Does this reduce the effectiveness of the baking soda and salt?

    • Claire Goodall says:

      Yup, vinegar is acidic and baking soda is alkaline, so they actually end up neutralizing each other and you end up with-basically-water. It’s a bummer :( If I am using vinegar in the wash, I’ll put it directly on the load so that by the time the fabric softener is added or dispensed (second to last rinse cycle on my machine) they aren’t canceling each other out. I believe for many machines the fabric softener is added after all the detergent (and vinegar if you use it) has already cycled through-otherwise you’d just rinse out the softener ;)

  29. elaine says:

    I make my own dryer balls out of the seconds alpaca fiber from my alpacas..they work great and last forever, or until my dog gets hold of

  30. rai says:

    quick question…….can I put this in a sachet and put it in my dryer?

  31. thedishwasher says:

    is this safe on colours ??!!

  32. Julie says:

    Thank you!! This works!! I put the mixture in my fab softener compartment and add vinegar. So far I have not had any problems with static. I am wondering if you could go ahead and add the vinegar to the above recipe and use it that way. Thoughts?

  33. Linda L. says:

    First off, I LOVE this recipe and have been using it for several months. However, I just read an article online that says because of the minerals in Epsom Salt (and I LOVE Epsom Salt) it is not good to use in cleaning recipes because it makes your water hard. Any thoughts on this? I am going switch to ice cream salt for now, but thought I would share this with you to see what you think? Thanks again for such a great recipe!

    • GranNan says:

      Salt is salt – in whatever form and salt is the main ingredient in water softners. Unfortunately there are many mis-informations to be found on the internet. According to the experts it would take an enormous amount to cause a problem – like 500 lbs. worth. So don’t worry if you use epsom salts in your bath, as a soaking solution, etc. Your system will not be damaged from the “salts”.

  34. GranNan says:

    To clarify… epsom salts is not really salt; it is a pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate.

  35. Mandy D says:

    For those of you worried about using Epsom salt, this recipe pretty much works with any type of salt! I use kosher salt, and have been making it for years, and it comes out great! Can find lots of fun essential oil blends out there as well (I sometimes even make pumpkin pie fabric softener). It’s a very customizable way to soften your clothing, and also salt can really aid in helping remove stains, and keeping colors from bleeding!

    • Tanya says:

      Kosher salt will work well, Epsom salt hardens water which makes the laundry detergent not work a well. So all salt will not work.

  36. Barbara Sparks says:

    I have very hard water and hang my clothes outside and i’m trying to find a cheaper more natural solution without buying store softeners that don’t even work well. tired of stiff clothes .

  37. Charlene says:

    I love this recipe! The last two times I made it though it became hard as rock and It was extremely difficult to use. Has this happened to anyone? Any tips for softening it? It became like brown sugar if left unsealed…

  38. Jennifer says:

    I just want to soften my clothes. I don’t care about static or smell. How can I just soften them?

  39. Jessica says:

    Which Epsom salt brand is best? I’ve heard claims that come can have metals in them such as lead. thanks!

  40. Becky says:

    Claire, your recipe says you can add the baking soda separately and, if doing so, mix in 1/2 Cup per load. The entire recipe calls for 1/2 cup baking soda and then you suggest adding a few tablespoons of the softener mixture. Is this a typo? If not, why so much baking soda if adding separately? Thank you for the recipe – just want to know I’m doing it correctly.

    • Claire Goodall says:

      Oops, thanks for catching this Becky! That is definitely a typo…if you’re adding the baking soda separately just add in the same amount as the Epsom salt/essential oil mixture (2-3 tablespoons or so.) It won’t hurt to add 1/2 cup of baking soda, but it’s not necessary. I’ll get this corrected ASAP!

      • Patricia says:

        Hi just noticed that the directions still call for a 1/2 cup of baking soda…you are saying that only 2 – 3 T. is needed in this recipe, am I correct?

        Thank you for posting this recipe : )

  41. Nancy Ulmer says:

    For people worried about their septic systems, once a month put 1/2 cup brown sugar with 3 tbles yeast in the toilet and flush. Will keep your septic active says septic pumpers. We have done this for years. 25 years before having it pumped!

  42. Nancy Ulmer says:

    To make nice scent in clothes in dryer I put 4 or 5 drops essential oil on a peice of cloth and throw it in .

  43. victoria j ingham says:

    ok I have an H.E.washer and I made the recipe with course salt and I used sweet orange E.O. oil I put it in a plastic tub and tipped from side to side so the mix would bind together I opened the lid and omg it smelt beautiful so put the lid back on and left it to settle and then I tossed some in before the clothes and then put the clothes in well they came out softer but there was not much smell now this is why the wash cycle as rinses in right and then the final rinse so the mix will get watered down so its best to add them in the rinse cycle ive tried this and its alot better you get the smell all you do is desolve them in hot water and put it in the detergent drawer so its worth a try or you can melt the whole lot and store in a glass container either way works better hope this helps

  44. Angel says:

    I need help. I made this and yes I put it in a glass jar like a mason jar and put the top on tight. When I went to use it, it was hard as a rock and all stuck together. I live in south Florida. What can I do so this never happens again? Had to use a drill to get it out

  45. Susan says:

    Hello there,thank you for this amazing recipe. My grandson thanks you as well he is allergic to most every laundry product out there so I make my own laundry soap,but haven’t found a compatible smelly for his clothes but now I have,just wanted to suggest reusing an unstoppable container as I did. Works great for it has the perfect spout and the lid works as the measuring cup,2 in one for me. We thank you!!

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