Frugal Fabric Softener Alternatives
An easy way to save on laundry is to skip fabric softeners and dryer sheets. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have nice, fluffy laundry and sheets that don’t cling to each other. The trick is to use some of these reusable alternatives.
Aluminum Foil Balls
This couldn’t be simpler. Go grab the heavy duty aluminum foil from the kitchen cupboard. Tear off a large sheet and crumble it into a ball. Wrap more sheets of foil around it until you end up with a ball that’s about 3 inches in diameter. Make 2 or 3 of these and toss them in the dryer with your laundry.
The aluminum will greatly reduce any static electricity building up and the balls bumping around will soften up your laundry.
Wool Dryer Balls
If you’re ready for something slightly more involved, give making wool dryer balls a try. Like the foil balls, they will soften your laundry and reduce static electricity. As an added bonus they will reduce your drying time by 25-50%, making them even more frugal.
They are easy to make. All you need is 100% wool yarn and some old panty hose. Wind the yarn into a ball. A diameter of 3 to 4 inches is good. Go ahead and make 3 or 4 of them. Wind the yarn as tightly as you can. Tuck in the end to secure it.
Put each ball into a piece of panty hose and use some twine, embroidery floss or acrylic yarn to tie it up. Toss them in with your next load of towels and wash them on hot . The heat, friction and detergent will work together to felt the wool together. Go ahead and toss them in the dryer too (with the panty hose still on) to encourage further felting. Once they come out, cut off the panty hose and you’ll notice that your wool balls have shrunk and started to felt together. They are now ready to use and will last for years.
Just toss the finished dryer balls in with each load of laundry as it dries. If you miss the smell of your dryer sheets or fabric softener, try adding a few drops of essential oil to your dryer balls before you use them.
If that sounds like too much work, I find just tossing in a a couple of pair of rolled up wool socks does well. They don’t soften the laundry quite as much because they aren’t as heavy and don’t do as much bouncing around the dryer, but they work well to lessen the static and make my clothes dry faster.
Need things a little softer still? Use a splash of vinegar as a fabric softener.