Putting the Stereotypical Notion of a Tightwad on its Tush

MacGyver Monday: Fabric Softener

It was one of those ironic moments. My aunt had called our house asking what we used for fabric softener. In the past we’ve used Seventh Generation’s Blue Eucalyptus and Lavender, even though it can be a little expensive. I just can’t handle the intense fragrance of Downy and after the third box of “unscented” Bounce that just smelled like the Downy it sat next to, I relegated myself to the expensive stuff.

One day after the call, I was reading a post at Funny About Money on alternative fabric softeners, particularly the 1:10 conditioner solution. I decided to give it the ultimate test: Mr. Modern Tightwad’s Blankie. My hubbin has a king size fleece blanket that without a full dose of fabric softener turns into a clingy, static mess that even attracts the neighbor dog’s hair from four doors down.

So I took a Ziploc Snap n’Seal Container and filled it with 10 teaspoons of water, and 1 teaspoon of Whole Foods 365 Fragrance Free Conditioner, closed lid, and shook until well-blended. Or rather, I tried to close it, shook a third of it all over myself, and then followed the above instructions. (Even MacGyver wasn’t perfect every episode.) On a side note, this blend left my hands baby soft, and in the desert that’s nearly priceless.

The verdict: It worked great! I think I might have used a bit more of the blend, but that was more due to operator error; I wasn’t sure how much to use without the telltale cap. At first, I didn’t think it worked because there were a few static “pops” when I pulled it out of the dryer. Mr. MT (who usually does the laundry in our house) said that was normal, and there hasn’t been a single static sound since, and zero cling to report. I would whole-heartedly recommend this, especially when you break down the math.

1 40 oz. bottle of Seventh Generation Fabric Softener
$4.99-5.99 (Depending on Coupons)
40 Loads (1 oz. per load)
=$0.125-0.15 per load

1 32 oz. bottle of 365 Fragrance Free Conditioner
$3.79
320 oz. Water – $0-2.50 (bottled water)
176 loads (2 oz. per load)
=$0.02-0.035 per load

Even if someone bought bottled water to make their fabric softener and used twice as much “alternative” softener, they’d save quite a bit. I project we’ll save at least $40/year. You could increase your savings by using a cheaper conditioner, and no one says you have to use fragrance free. I think I’ll try the 365 Lavender or Mint next time. It’s not a paperclip and gum wrapper saving the day, but it was a fun experiment.

Update: The 1:10 conditioner:water solution was a little bit watery, so I think I might decrease it to 1:9 or 1:8 for the next batch, but a 1:12 solution in a spray bottle makes an excellent skin moisturizer!

One Response to MacGyver Monday: Fabric Softener

  1. Good for you–what a hoot!

    Thanks for mentioning Funny, too. I found that when you’re in a hurry and don’t necessarily want to run something thru’ the washer (as with a doggy blanket that’s only been lain on once or twice), working a squeeze of hair conditioner into a saturated washcloth gives you something like a dryer sheet. Works just fine to make the dog hair drop off. I think it probably would work for a load of regular laundry. It might also be reusable (tho’ i haven’t tried this yet), if you set the dried washcloth aside and then just redampened it for the next washday.

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