Chemical free, Recipes

Herbal fabric softener

Homemade fabric softener’s are cheap, easy to make and smell amazing. Plus it’s chemical free so you know you are protecting yourself and your family from all the nasty synthetic materials in commercial fabric softeners.

Commercial fabric softeners have only been available for a relatively short period of time and so there is no conclusive evidence as to what effects the chemicals present may have on our bodies. In a recent study however (1), 25 common household cleaning items were tested and found to contain 133 volatile compounds between them. Of these, 24 are classified as toxic and only 1 was listed on the product label. Another recent study (2), looked into the effects of the chemical agents added to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold in commercial cleaning products such as fabric softeners. These agents are called biocides. These biocides have been found to cause skin and lung irritation and when exposed to in large quantities have caused fatal lung disease. The recommendations out of this study was to monitor human exposure to these chemicals as they cannot be sure what the effects of long term use will be.

As alarming as that research is, there are ways you can reduce your chemical exposure. A good place to start is to make your own cleaning products, stop using air fresheners and aerosols and use a natural deodorant.

I have previously shared a chemical free surface spray that works wonders around the home and now for a fabric softener. This recipe comes from the Biome website. If you haven’t heard of Biome I suggest you check out their website. To be honest I’m a little obsessed and while I complain about there not being an actual shop front near me, my bank account will probably agree it’s actually a good thing!

Herbal Homemade Fabric Softener Recipe


  • White vinegar
  • Large handful of fresh rosemary, thyme and sage leaves
  • Large glass jar with a non metallic lid
  • Glass bottle with a non-metallic lid for storing
  • Strainer or sieve

Fabric Softener 1


  1. Put the herbs into the large glass jar and pour in the vinegar until almost full. Ensure the herbs are fully submerged. Place the lid on and let the herbs infuse for at least 24 hours. For a stronger infusion leave for 48 hours. Shake occasionally.
  2. When the infusion is complete, strain well using a fine sieve. Ensure there is no remaining residue.
  3. Pour your fabric softener into your choice of container. It’s now ready to use.

*Note: If your bottles/containers do have metallic lids (like most mason jars), you can place a sheet of baking paper in between the glass and lid before sealing. This will stop the vinegar corroding the steel lid and potentially contaminating your fabric softener.

For this recipe, it’s best to use fresh herbs, not dried. Avoid using petals and herbs that will colour the vinegar (like lavender, rose, etc) as these may stain clothes. The herbs we’ve selected will not colour the vinegar.

How to Use

Add 1/4 cup of infused vinegar to the washing machine fabric softener dispenser. The vinegar will be dispensed during the rinse cycle.

I used sage, rosemary and lemon thyme but you could also add mint, lemon balm, eucalyptus leaves or get creative! Adding 5 drops of your favourite essential oil is also an option if you don’t have fresh herbs available.

Enjoy chemical free, naturally fragranced, soft clothes.

Leisha x


  1. Steinemann, A. C., MacGregor, I. C., Gordon, S. M., Gallagher, L. G., Davis, A. L., Ribeiro, D. S., & Wallace, L. A. (2015). Fragranced consumer products: Chemicals emitted; ingredients unlisted. Journal of the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, 34(3), 10.
  2. Heo, J. J., Kim, U. J., & Oh, J. E. (2019). Simultaneous quantitative analysis of four isothiazolinones and 3-iodo-2-propynyl butyl carbamate present in hygienic consumer products.

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