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How to Make Clothes Softer


Traditional fabric softener isn’t the only way to make your laundry softer, brighter and more comfortable. Here are a few other washing machine hacks:

  • Baking soda/vinegar
  • Borax
  • Hair conditioner
  • Homemade dryer sheet or dryer balls
  • Water softening

That’s right: If you want to stop stiff clothes, anything from a DIY detergent to installing a water softener can help get the job done. Read on for more tips and tricks for soft clothes.

Simple Solutions for Softer Clothes

Cleaning hacks come in all shapes and sizes, particularly when it comes to your laundry. That means there’s more than one way to soften fabric — and a lot of it depends on what you already have on hand.

Here are a few ways to get softer clothes:

Baking Soda and Vinegar

You probably know that baking soda and vinegar can be a great DIY cleaner, but have you tried them in your washing machine?

For top-loading systems, start the wash cycle, wait until the basin is full of water and then add ½ cup of baking soda. For front-loading machines, put the same amount of baking soda into the laundry detergent compartment. Regular or distilled white vinegar on its own can do wonders, too: Add ½ cup to your basin or fabric softener dispenser during the rinse cycle.

You can also combine these two options for a particularly powerful homemade fabric softener. Combine 1 cup of baking soda with 7 cups of white vinegar, then add about ⅓ cup to your wash cycle.

Hair Conditioner

Your favorite hair conditioner might just be your favorite fabric conditioner, too. Just choose a scent you like, add 2 cups to a bowl with 6 cups of water and 3 cups of white vinegar, stir gently and add to the rinse cycle using the same measurements as any other liquid fabric softener.


If you have borax in your cleaning supplies, try adding it to your washing machine for an extra softening boost. About ½ cup of borax powder can help brighten and soften fabric.

Homemade Dryer Sheet

To make your own dryer sheet, find a scrap of cotton, soak and wring it out, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil and toss it in your dryer. It’s best to do this about 10 minutes before the end of the dry cycle, because in some cases, leaving essential oils in the machine could potentially pose a fire risk.

DIY Dryer Balls

You can buy wool dryer balls to help reduce static electricity and soften clothes — but did you know you can also make your own? Grab some aluminum foil, ball it up tightly and toss two or three of these DIY dryer balls into the machine.

Water Softening

One of the most effective fabric-softening solutions might also be the least expected. In some cases, your water itself could be to blame. That’s because hard water — which has high concentrations of calcium and magnesium — can make clothes stiff and dull.

To solve this problem, you’ll need more than aluminum foil balls or DIY liquid softener. Instead, you need a system designed to address hardness minerals: a water softener. These solutions can help soften your laundry, prevent mineral buildup, stop your skin and hair from drying out, ensure your water-using appliances last longer and a whole lot more.

Why Laundry Gets Stiff

What causes stiff laundry in the first place? There are a few possible explanations — including detergent residue or the wrong kind of fabric softener — but hard water may be the most frustrating. That’s because even the best cleaning hacks can feel inefficient when your water itself is working against you.

It all begins with high mineral content. You might notice that soap takes longer to lather when you’re taking a bath or shower — and you may also need more detergent than you should in your washing machine. When too much calcium and magnesium are in your water, they can prevent cleaning products from doing their job and also leave behind an unpleasant buildup that eventually captures other content like soil and sweat. The results include stiff fabric fibers, unusual odors and faded colors. Over time, this can reduce the lifespan of your clothing and increase detergent costs.

Your laundry isn’t the only thing that suffers from hard water. Mineral buildup can occur in all your water-using appliances, too, reducing water pressure and impacting performance and longevity. There are also plenty of hair and skin problems caused by high mineral content.

Do these symptoms sound familiar?
Download our FREE Hard Water Solutions Handbook.

Water softening addresses all these issues and more. These systems use resin beads to attract and “trap” mineral content, allowing soft water to flow out into your home. Water softeners use a process called regeneration to rinse their resin beads using a brine solution to flush out the minerals and keep the system working in top condition.

The result is water that doesn’t create buildup on your laundry or limit your detergent’s effectiveness – leaving your clothes brighter, softer and better smelling.

Other Benefits of a Water Softener

While reducing hard minerals in your water is great for your laundry, there are plenty of other water softener benefits to explore. Here are just a few examples:

A Brighter Wardrobe

Remember that soft water doesn’t just make clothes cleaner; it can also brighten colors and whites by eliminating the mineral buildup that dulls the fabric fibers. That means your whole wardrobe could look newer for longer.

No More Buildup

Mineral buildup, or limescale, looks unpleasant and takes a lot of scrubbing. If you have hard water, you’ve likely seen this chalky, white buildup caked around your faucets, inside your bathtub and around other bathroom fixtures. A water softener removes the minerals that cause limescale, washing your problem down the drain — literally.

Easier Cleaning

Hard water prevents soap and other cleaning products from lathering as they should, making it harder to keep your home in tip-top shape. On top of that, you’ll likely have to spend more time and money addressing problems that keep coming back. Water softeners address these issues at their source and make cleaning faster, easier and cheaper.

Longer-Lasting Appliances

Mineral buildup isn’t just unsightly. It also forces your water-using appliances to work harder — which, in turn, reduces their performance and their lifespan over time. Water softeners help protect these appliances, improve their efficiency and keep them working as expected for years to come.

Improved Hair and Skin

Your skin and hair produce natural oils to keep itself hydrated and healthy. Hard water can strip your body of natural moisture leaving your skin and scalp dry, itch, and irritated. You may also notice hard water minimizing the effectiveness of your shampoo and conditioner, needing excessive amounts of product to achieve the desired effect. When you wash with soft water, your hair will feel softer, your skin will feel moisturized, and you’ll look and feel your best.

Better Water Is The Best Fabric Softener

It’s true: Soft water is better for your laundry, home, hair and skin. Since you can’t always recognize hard water at first glance, it’s important to get a professional water test to know exactly what is flowing from your tap – especially if you use a private well (which may be more susceptible to hard water).

This process will measure you how hard your water is, test for additional problems and let you know what your next steps should be. Plus, you’ll have a local water expert there to make personalized recommendations to get you started on your path to better water.

Schedule your free, in-home water test and consultation today.

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