Can vinegar be used in the fabric softener dispenser?

Instead of purchasing fabric softener from the store, add white distilled vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser in your washing machine. When laundering items in the washing machine, they can sometimes feel stiff. Hard water, strong detergents and the heat in the dryer can lead to stiff clothing. White distilled vinegar not only softens fabrics, but it works to neutralise odours as well. Distilled white vinegar is an inexpensive and eco-friendly alternative to commercial liquid fabric softeners.

White Vinegar

Load the laundry into the washing machine. Add your washing powder and wash the clothing according to the care label. Pour the vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser if you have one. If you do not have a dispenser, add 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar to each load of laundry during the rinse cycle. Allow the washing machine to finish the cleaning cycle. Remove the laundry and dry it in the dryer or on a clothesline.

White Vinegar and Essential Oils

Measure 1/2 to 1 cup of white distilled vinegar. Add four to five drops of essential oils to the vinegar. Stir the solution carefully to blend the oils with the vinegar. Add the vinegar fabric softener to the fabric softener dispenser or pour it into the washing machine during the rinse cycle. The essential oils will give your clothes a fresh and pleasant scent similar to commercial fabric softeners. Plain vinegar can often leave behind a vinegar-like smell on clothes.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Select a large container with a lid, such as a 5-gallon bucket, to create a large amount of fabric softener. Combine one part baking soda with two parts of hot water. Stir the water to dissolve the baking soda. Add one part of vinegar to the solution and stir until you blend it well. When the vinegar stops reacting with the baking soda, seal the bucket or container with a lid. Stir the solution before each use and add 1/4 cup of the fabric softener to the rinse cycle. Alternatively, you can add 1 cup of vinegar and 1/4 cup of baking soda during the final rinse. The two ingredients will react to remove odours and stains while they also soften fabrics.


Do not use balsamic or other dark vinegars in place of white distilled vinegar. Darker vinegars may stain clothes. Select pleasant smelling essential oils such as lavender, vanilla or chamomile when creating a fragrant fabric softener. Purchase these essential oils at craft stores. Always label the fabric softener if you plan to make it up ahead of time to ensure that your family does not use it for any other purpose. Store any leftover vinegar in an airtight container in a cool and dark location.

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About the Author

Angela LaFollette holds a Bachelor of Arts in advertising with a minor in political science from Marshall University. LaFollette found her passion for writing during an internship as a reporter for "The West Virginia Standard" in 2007. She has more than six years of writing experience and specializes in topics in garden and pets.