I've been making my own laundry detergent now for over a year. I love that I don't have to spend all that money every month on laundry detergent. Some people get really frugal and give up fabric softner, but I figure if I'm saving that much money on the suds I can 'splurge' a little on the softy scenty stuff. I love clothes and sheets that smell delicious...I don't think I could voluntarily give up fabric softener that makes my clothes smell terrific!
There's a recipe I tried once for homemade fabric softener that uses hair conditioner, water, and vinegar. It was ok, but I wasn't that thrilled about it. One day at the store, for some reason, I decided to figure out the cost per ounce for the hair conditioner vs. some Snuggle. I was shocked to discover it was actually cheaper per ounce for the Snuggle than for the bottle of cheap hair conditioner I bought at a discount dented can place! Then I had the bright idea of using regular fabric softener instead of hair conditioner in the homemade fabric softener recipe. The result was surprisingly pleasing.
My favorite fabric softener in the world is Suavitel in the yellow bottle. I bought a 150 oz (1.17 gallon) bottle for $7.47 at WalMart on July 16, 2009. As of this posting, I have used the last of the straight fabric softener to make another batch of the homemade. I probably have half a batch left. So, that $8 bottle of fabric softener has lasted over 10 months!
How well does it work, you ask? I think it's terrific! It still softens the clothes and leaves enough of that delicious, sunshiney yellowy scent behind that I can smell it on the clothes, even several days after washing. And a plus is that it's diluted enough that it doesn't gunk up the fabric softener dispenser in my washer. I love it!
Here's the recipe:
3 cups distilled white vinegar
2 cups fabric softener (or hair conditioner - one regular size bottle is almost 16 oz)
6 cups water
Mix together, but don't shake or it gets all foamy. Store in an airtight container or old fabric softener bottle(s). I took an old vinegar bottle and marked the sides for how much of each ingredient so I wouldn't have to measure it each time. Now, since the Big Bottle of Fabric Softener was finally emptied, I keep it in there after I mix it. We got a new washer with a dispenser so it's easier to measure that way. I just use a capful per load, more or less depending on my mood or the load size.