DIY Nontoxic Fabric Softener & Laundry Scent Booster

image of a hand holding a glass mason jar of homemade nontoxic fabric softener in front of a blue wall with an herb drying rack and image of a white washer and dryer set with a wood shelf on top of them behind the words "DIY nontoxic fabric softener and laundry scent booster"
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Over the past several years, I’ve been working to detoxify our home by replacing the chemical-filled cleaning products I used to use with natural ones – mostly homemade! This DIY nontoxic fabric softener and laundry scent booster is one of my favorite natural cleaning product recipes.

What I love about this recipe is that it requires just three ingredients. And it packs a double whammy, acting as both a natural fabrics softener and a nontoxic laundry scent booster.

Read on to learn how to make my nontoxic fabric softener and why it works so well!

(The contents of this post do not constitute medical advice. This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read our disclaimer.)

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image of a hand holding a glass mason jar of homemade nontoxic fabric softener in front of a blue wall with an herb drying rack and image of a white washer and dryer set with a wood shelf on top of them behind the words "DIY nontoxic fabric softener and laundry scent booster"

Homemade Fabric Softener

One of the biggest culprits of toxins in your laundry is dryer sheets, which is why I stopped using them years ago (read this post to learn what I replaced them with). But one thing people love about conventional dryer sheets is the fabric softener they contain.

So what is a natural fabric softener alternative you can replace toxic fabric softeners from dryer sheets with?

This eco friendly fabric softener recipe contains epsom salt and baking soda. Both of these ingredients act as natural fabric softeners without leaving a tacky coating on your clothes, which is how dryer sheets “soften” fabrics. 

Instead of adding this nontoxic fabric softener to your dryer, it goes straight in the washing machine with your clothes.

Related: Nontoxic Dryer Sheet Alternative – Detox Your Laundry with Dryer Balls

a glass jar of diy nontoxic fabric softener sitting on a white countertop next to a bag of baking soda and a bottle of bergamot essential oil

Natural Laundry Scent Booster

Another thing people tend to love about dryer sheets is that they transfer a fresh-smelling scent onto your clothing. Unfortunately, pretty much anything can be used to make fragrances (including carcinogens), and manufacturers aren’t required to disclose the ingredients used in fragrances or laundry products. Yikes!

Fortunately, it’s not difficult to make your own laundry scent booster. First, the baking soda used in this recipe is great at deodorizing fabrics naturally. I always use this laundry scent booster with my smelly workout clothes!

Next, the epsom salt works as a carrier for the essential oils in the laundry scent booster. The oils soak into the salt, which drives their scent into the fabric. So the epsom salt is pulling double duty, softening fabrics and making them smell great!

When you make this DIY, make sure to mix the baking soda and epsom salt together first, then add the essential oils. Otherwise, the oils could activate the baking soda. Once the epsom salt and baking soda are mixed together, the baking soda won’t get activated prematurely, and the salt will soak up the oils.

Related: Why to Go Nontoxic During Pregnancy

Skin-Safe Essential Oils

Using essential oils in this recipe is optional. It’s totally okay if you just want to soften and deodorize your laundry without adding an extra scent.

But if you do decide to add essential oils, make sure to use skin-safe ones. Since laundry items like clothing and sheets have prolonged contact with skin, you don’t want to irritate anyone who has sensitive skin.

Some skin-safe essential oils include:

Although these oils are generally considered safe for skin, some people may still have sensitivities to them. Just use your best judgment, and if you’re worried that someone in your household could be sensitive, either avoid that oil altogether or begin by adding it in very small amounts.

Related: DIY Nontoxic All-Purpose Cleaner Recipe

image of a hand holding a glass mason jar of homemade nontoxic fabric softener in front of a blue wall with an herb drying rack

Nontoxic Fabric Softener & Laundry Scent Booster Recipe

Materials & Ingredients

all linked below


  1. Mix the epsom salt and baking soda together in a bowl until they’re thoroughly combined. Break up any clumps you find in the baking soda.
  2. Add 20 to 30 drops of skin-safe essential oils, stirring them through the epsom salt and baking soda mixture.
  3. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of your nontoxic fabric softener directly to the drum of your washing machine with a load of laundry.

What scents are you adding to your nontoxic fabric softener? Tell me in the comments!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a natural alternative to fabric softener?

There are several natural fabric softener alternatives. You can make your own using a 1:1 ratio of baking soda and epsom salt and add essential oils if you’d like. You can also add vinegar to the liquid fabric softener compartment in your washing machine, which will soften your clothes naturally.

Why shouldn’t you use fabric softener?

First, using fabric softener definitely isn’t necessary. Some people like for their clothes and sheets to be a little softer, but it’s not a laundry requirement.

Additionally, many conventional fabric softener sheets or pods contain toxins and chemicals that aren’t listed on the container. They can cause health problems and pollute the environment through the emissions from our dryer vents. If you do choose to use fabric softener, try a nontoxic alternative like the recipe in this article.

What are nontoxic alternatives to fabric softeners, other than wool dryer balls?

Baking soda, epsom salt, and vinegar are all free of chemicals and soften fabric naturally. You can use them together or separately in your laundry.

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  1. I made batch of it for the first time and it hard up. An I know it’s not from how much essential oil I put in. So I guess I’m gonna put less in the next time. To see what happens.

    1. Mine hardens up over time, too. I usually shake the jar or use my scoop to break it up! I don’t think you put too much essential oil in.

  2. Where do you just add detergent? In the detergent compartment or altogether with the fabric softener?

  3. Hi I have been looking into making my own fabric softener my corncern is does the oils stain your clothes? Do you use this with every load of laundry?

    1. I’ve never had the oils stain my clothes! They seem to get soaked up by the epsom salt and baking soda, and you only use a few tablespoons in your laundry, so it doesn’t seem to be enough oil to stain fabric. The essential oils are also optional if you’re worried about them! I use it with almost every load of laundry, except for my baby’s clothes and linens.

    1. Everything I’ve read says it’s safe to use in a high-efficiency washing machine because it doesn’t include a sudsing agent. I have an HE washer and haven’t had any issues. I hope that helps!

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