Taking care of clothes

How To Make Your Clothes Softer

Mary Smith
By Mary Smith. Updated: March 11, 2022
How To Make Your Clothes Softer

There's nothing like fresh laundry from the machine. It should be clean, smell fresh and feel like a cloud dipped in cotton candy on a marshmallow raft floating down a sea of silk covered poodles. If that's not quite clear, we mean it should be soft. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, so many add softener with their laundry detergent. But is putting a chemical based softener the best thing for our clothes? Especially long term? There is debate on both sides, but we do know they aren't great for microfibers and they can affect those with sensitive skin. This is why oneHOWTO has found some natural home remedies for how to make your clothes softer.

You'll need:

  • 1 cup white distilled vinegar
  • ½ cup of baking soda
  • ½ cup borax
You may also be interested in: How to Wash Clothes Using Vinegar

Steps to follow:


Our first method of how to make your clothes softer involves white vinegar. In many ways this is a wonder potion for household tasks. It is a great cleaning agent as it breaks down substances easily and adds a shine to bright surfaces. White vinegar is also great for hair as it is known to help with dandruff and is also a natural remedy for head lice.

If you want to help soften your clothes without the use of fabric softener, white vinegar can help in the laundry department also. To make your clothes feel softer out of the wash, mix 1 cup of distilled white vinegar in the rinse cycle of the washing machine. Vinegar is non-toxic, but naturally dissolves the alkaline detergent. This alkalinity can cause clothes to stiffen, so white vinegar will reduce this stiffness and result in softer clothes.

For more general household uses of vinegar, check our article.

How To Make Your Clothes Softer - Step 1

While white vinegar helps to neutralize the alkaline property of laundry detergent, sometimes you need the opposite to happen. Acid spills can occur on clothes regularly. This might be particularly the case if you have had a rough night due to illness (whether self-inflicted or not). This is because both urine and vomit are acidic, so you need to find something which will cancel it out.

This is where baking soda comes in. It will not only work on these stains, but will also help soften the clothes overall. To do this, simply add ½ cup of baking soda to the wash along with your regular detergent. You should end up with relatively stain free clothes which feel soft and bouncy to the touch (depending on the fabric).

Baking soda is not only great for softening clothes, but it makes your whites brighter and sharper and gets rid of the bad odors which may have come from these acidic spillages. It will also aid with clothes which have developed a more general musty smell.

How To Make Your Clothes Softer - Step 2

Another way to keep your clothes soft and lush is to use borax. Borax is a naturally occurring compound which has been added to different brands of laundry detergent over the years. Most famously there is the 20 Mule Team Borax, a detergent which has been in use since the 19th century. If it's good enough for the professional stuff, it should be good enough for you.

Adding ½ cup powdered borax to the wash water will soften the hard water, which in turn softens the clothes. Borax also helps whiten your whites and gets your clothes cleaner. In fact, white vinegar and baking soda will also help give your washing machine a sparkle when used in your cycle.

Because it softens the water to soften your clothes, it will also help remove soap residue from them. This means it's great if you want to use a harder soap on dirtier clothes. If you have some clothes which have a fungal mold, it can also help to get rid of it. We don't mean there are literally mushrooms growing out of your clothes, but if your sweaters are smelling a little funky, this could be the reason.

How To Make Your Clothes Softer - Step 3

There is another way to help soften your clothes without using fabric softener. It is quite effective, but is unfortunately time consuming. For this reason you should only use it if you are able to plan ahead. This method is the salt bath method of making clothes softer.

Take a clean bucket or similar receptacle and put your dirty clothes in there. For every quart (4 cups) of water, add a ½ cup of regular salt to the water and mix it in as best you can. Put the dirty laundry in the bucket of salt water and leave for 2 - 3 days. The salt acts as a preservative. This is why you can't just leave your clothes in regular water. Without the salt they will smell musty after the wash.

After the 2 - 3 days are up, rinse and wash in a normal laundry cycle. This is one where the time and effort will hopefully pay off, but is not a good idea for regular use. You will still end up with softer clothes by the end of it. It's also great if you have old or vintage T-shirts. Use the same solution of salt and water and immerse the t-shirt in it for the three whole days. After this time has passed, wash normally and tumble dry afterwards. You'll notice the results once dry.

How To Make Your Clothes Softer - Step 4

Remember to always use the correct amount of detergent. Follow the directions on the bottle of detergent and use only that amount. Adding too much detergent can reduce the softness of clothing.


If you want more laundry tips, at oneHOWTO we have plenty of articles that my be useful for you:

If you want to read similar articles to How To Make Your Clothes Softer, we recommend you visit our Home cleaning category.


  • Baking soda, vinegar and borax can be used in conjunction with others. Do not use chlorine bleach and vinegar together in the wash. Vapours of this combination may be harmful.
  • These are perfect solutions if you haven't got any fabric softener at home. Try them out and tell us which worked for you!
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1 comment
Marsha Sharkey
My granddaughter is very picky to the point she will refuse to wear anything that is not soft. Unfortunately most jeans and some shirts are rough. I am just looking for the best way to soften her BRAND NEW clothes that have yet to be washed. Thank You for any other advise you could give me.
For softer shirt, take pumice stone to the shirt, There roughness inside of the shirt, what you do is make the shirt smoother. You have to be care how much material you are taking off the shirt. This the only thing that work for me.
OneHowTo Editor
Thanks for the tip!
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How To Make Your Clothes Softer