I found myself in a bit of a predicament yesterday morning. I ran out of liquid fabric softener, and had no car to hop up and get more. Now, as a general rule, I dispense with the liquid softener and just go for a sheet in the dryer, but this time of year is clothes line time for us. You can save a good bit of cash by hang-drying your clothes instead of using your dryer, especially when you're already running the AC. One year (when I only had two children's worth of laundry), I tracked the savings. Depending on the weather...we saved anywhere between $35-$50 per month on energy alone. That, for us, is a budgetable savings. However, when you hang dry your clothes, it is a good idea to use a liquid fabric softener so your towels don't stiffen like boards.
I googled some recipes for homemade liquid fabric softeners just out of curiosity, and discovered that I had what it takes to make up a partial batch. I made 1/4 of the recipe, and it was enough for 1/2 of the empty Gain bottle.
Now, here's what we thought about the fabric softener. It was easy to make. Easier, in fact than homemade laundry detergent. I had everything here, so there was really no initial expense...also a plus. It worked somewhat well, suprisingly. It isn't as good as Downy or Snuggle or Gain, my preferred clothesline brands, and really had no scent at all. But, it definitely worked as well as one of the generics. I will definitely try this again when I can't find a good deal on the good stuff...it certainly worked well enough for us to get by on. There is another online recipe that uses only vinegar and baking soda which I may try out, and if I do, I'll review it for you. Here's the recipe that I got from eHow.com:
Liquid Fabric Softener
2 cups hair conditioner, any brand
3 cups vinegar
6 cups water
Mix together thoroughly and store in an airtight container. Use the same amount you would use with your normal fabric softener.
****Note: My 1/4 recipe was 1/2 cup conditioner, 3/4 cup vinegar, and 1 1/2 cup water. According to the usage from my previous bottle it is enough for 33 loads of laundry. Also, the mixture will separate over time, so it was really nice to have the old bottle to shake it around in before using.
Let me know if anyone else tries it out!