7 Eco-Friendly Fabric Softeners For Oh-So Organic & Soft LaundryImage by Viren Apothecary#ecofriendlyfabricsoftener #ecofabricsoftener #bestecofriendlyfabricsoftener #organicfabricsoftener #ecofriendlyfabricsoftenersheets #sustainablejungle
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7 Eco-Friendly Fabric Softeners For Oh-So Organic Laundry

Amber McDaniel

It’s time to wash away the misinformation about fabric softeners and let you in on a little secret: this laundry product is not nearly as “necessary” as we’ve been led to believe.

This multi-billion dollar industry has many duped in the name of “extra laundry care” and faux fragrances. In 2020, the global fabric softeners market was estimated at a whopping $15.7 billion and expected to increase to $19.7 billion by 2026. 

While you (like us) may decide to ditch the softener altogether (here’s why you can), there are some eco-friendly fabric softeners that are also a little softer on the planet. Or you can try some even simpler fabric softener alternatives.

Everything we recommend to you on Sustainable Jungle is independently researched and we ask all brands to confirm their claims. To avoid waste, we test products on an as needed basis. This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a small commission. Learn more about why we do this here.

The Best Non-Toxic Fabric Softeners For Sustainably Soft Clothes

Viren Apothecary uses a a simple formula to enhance dryer balls featuring earth-derived ingredients that won’t harm your skin or your septic system. Plus, we love the looks of their elegant refillable glass jars.

To go really pure, try our super easy two-ingredient DIY recipe that’s about as soft as you can get… on your wallet, your clothes, and the Earth!

1. Public Goods

7 Eco-Friendly Fabric Softeners For Oh-So Organic & Soft Laundry Image by Public Goods #ecofriendlyfabricsoftener #ecofabricsoftener #bestecofriendlyfabricsoftener #organicfabricsoftener #ecofriendlyfabricsoftenersheets #sustainablejungle
Image by Public Goods

*Note: Public Goods’ fabric softener is palm oil-free, but other products are not.

Public Goods’ Eco-Friendly Fabric Softener Sheets

Price Range: $7

If you like your softening done in the dryer and you haven’t yet switched to dryer sheet alternatives, consider at least switching to Public Goods. With a rayon base and natural softening enzymes, the fully plant-based ingredients come together to form non-bioaccumulative and biodegradable fabric softener dryer sheets.

Public Goods suggests they can also be composted, but since they’re not certified home compostable and Public Goods has not responded to our inquiry on the matter, we do NOT suggest composting.

Fragrance-free, gluten-free, and phosphate these dermatologist-tested hypoallergenic sheets are suitable to use as baby safe fabric softener.

About Public Goods

Public Goods are on-point for their vegan, cruelty-free, organic, minimalist approach to product ingredients and packaging. Everything is made in Wisconsin and shipped carbon-neutral in glass jars, recycled paper, or compostable packaging.

To further their public good, Public Goods also plant a tree for every order, donate to Feeding America, and help repurpose old personal care packaging through a partnership with Clean the World.

2. Grove Co.

7 Eco-Friendly Fabric Softeners For Oh-So Organic & Soft Laundry Image by Grove Co. #ecofriendlyfabricsoftener #ecofabricsoftener #bestecofriendlyfabricsoftener #organicfabricsoftener #ecofriendlyfabricsoftenersheets #sustainablejungle
Image by Grove Co.

*Note: Grove Collaborative is not an entirely vegan brand, but the fabric softener is vegan. Grove uses RSPO palm oil in their products.

Grove Co’s Non-Toxic Fabric Softener

Price Range: $5–$22

Grove Collaborative offers a fabric softener designed to replace all the chemical nasties associated with scent boosters and fabric softening sheets/liquids. Their liquid softener uses the power of plants to soften and reduce static, in Free & Clear (unscented) or Lavender & Rosemary scents, derived from essential oils.

Reviewers love the scent and softening power, but warn of the solution’s thickness, which can clog the dispenser if not diluted properly. Those with the best experience suggest diluting with water A LOT—which, given that the refill pouch costs as little as $5 on subscription, it’s a huge bang for your buck.

They contain a grand total of just seven plant-based or mineral ingredients and you can access the safety data sheets on these formulas right in the product description.

The softening liquid comes in a recyclable plastic pouch that reduces 60% of plastic waste, but if you opt for the starter set, you’ll also get a reusable BPA-free bottle with a silicone sleeve. By emailing them at [email protected] you can get a prepaid return label to recycle the flexible plastic pouches and the container.

About Grove Co.

If the name didn’t give it away, Grove is actually a platform collaborative of over 200 sustainable brands—one of which is Grove’s own in-house brand. They themselves are a Certified B Corp, USDA-Biopreferred approved, and ship carbon neutral.

From eco-friendly dishwasher tablets to toilet paper, Grove carries a huge line of non-toxic, cruelty-free, and plant-based cleaning and personal care products. 

Not everything is zero waste—in fact you’ll find a number of plastic bottles on that site—but they’re taking responsibility by offsetting all plastic use and offering a recycling take-back on Grove branded products. The goal is to be plastic-free by 2025.

3. Viren Apothecary

7 Eco-Friendly Fabric Softeners For Oh-So Organic & Soft LaundryImage by VirenApothecary#ecofriendlyfabricsoftener #ecofabricsoftener #bestecofriendlyfabricsoftener #organicfabricsoftener #ecofriendlyfabricsoftenersheets #sustainablejungle
Image by Viren Apothecary

*Note: Some products contain beeswax melts, but their eco fabric softener is vegan.

Viren Apothecary’s Chemical-Free Fabric Softener

Price Range: $14

Using reusable wool dryer balls but still stuck with static electricity?

Striving to fill empty holes in the market by designing a new and original product, Viren Apothecary offers a Wash & Wear dryer ball spray that helps you reap the eco and softening benefits of dryer balls—either unscented or with the added fresh scent of blue agave and aloe, cucumber and cotton, white tea and pear, or almond and amber.

Simply mist your dryer balls with the spray and add them to the dryer with wet clothes, or “spot soften” certain clothes by spraying directly. 

This highly concentrated and long-lasting product comes packaged in a reusable glass spray bottle, and refills come in reusable, recyclable aluminum bottles. 

About Viren Apothecary

Viren Apothecary began with a pounding headache, a dirty kitchen, and a gallon of vinegar. Realizing how smelly the vinegar was, but still wanting a green cleaning routine, Viren’s founder Morgan Finley got to work to develop the best all-natural cleaning formulas.

In Morgan’s own words, “Our product formulas were born from a personal refusal to compromise between eco-friendly ingredients, fine fragrances & sparkling surfaces.”

Everything is free of palm oil, parabens, phthalates, phosphates, gluten, bleach, ammonia and more. All ingredients are sourced from either small, local businesses (which also avoid shipping emissions) or directly from traceable manufacturers using closed-loop bulk packaging.

Every Mother’s Day, they donate to the Hope House of Milwaukee, a community centered organization providing help to families experiencing homelessness.

4. Dropps

7 Eco-Friendly Fabric Softeners For Oh-So Organic & Soft Laundry Image by Dropps #ecofriendlyfabricsoftener #ecofabricsoftener #bestecofriendlyfabricsoftener #organicfabricsoftener #ecofriendlyfabricsoftenersheets #sustainablejungle
Image by Dropps

*Note: Dropps’ laundry pods contain RSPO palm oil, but their fabric softener pods do not.

Dropps’ Healthy Fabric Softener

Price Range: $19–$25

Drop with ease into the softest laundry thanks to Dropps’ pre-measured pods that is bentonite and quartz-based, two natural minerals that help keep laundry soft, maintain the wicking performance of athletic wear, and keep towels absorbent.

While biodegradable and septic safe, they’re not technically plastic-free fabric softeners because the pods are made of dissolvable polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH/PVA) pods.

Choose between six different scents: unscented, orange blossom, eucalyptus lavender, clean and crisp, home for the holidays, and ocean.

About Dropps

Drop and go with any one of Dropps’ pod cleaners for clothes, dishes, and more.

They all come with carbon-neutral shipping through Clearloop and help rehabilitate every drop of the ocean through the brand’s support of Oceana for ocean clean-ups and conservation.

5. Elisa & Millie

7 Eco-Friendly Fabric Softeners For Oh-So Organic & Soft Laundry Image by ElisaMillie #ecofriendlyfabricsoftener #ecofabricsoftener #bestecofriendlyfabricsoftener #organicfabricsoftener #ecofriendlyfabricsoftenersheets #sustainablejungle
Image by ElisaMillie

*Note: We havae reached out to this brand to confirm policies but have received no reply to date.

Elisa & Millie’s Environmentally Friendly Fabric Softener

Price Range: $10–$16

Free from sulfates, phosphates, parabens, and BPA, Elisa & Millie’s natural fabric softeners are made for sensitive skin—meaning no colors, allergens, artificial chemicals, or surfactants. 

Simply dollop 1-2oz into your eco-friendly washing machines (HE and conventional alike), choose either hot or cold water, and you’ll be wowed at how clothes feel softer and static free. 

While it comes in a not-so-eco-friendly plastic pouch, items are shipped carbon-neutral through their Etsy partnership.

About Elisa & Millie

North Carolina-based owner Chelsey is mom to three children and three cats, and has put extensive time, research, effort, and love into her handcrafted, vegan, and cruelty-free products.

6. Guinea Hill Soap

7 Eco-Friendly Fabric Softeners For Oh-So Organic & Soft LaundryImage by GuineaHillSoap#ecofriendlyfabricsoftener #ecofabricsoftener #bestecofriendlyfabricsoftener #organicfabricsoftener #ecofriendlyfabricsoftenersheets #sustainablejungle
Image by Guinea Hill Soap

*Note: Guinea Hill Soap’s solid soaps contain goat’s milk.

Guinea Hill Soap’s Organic Fabric Softener

Price Range: TBC

You don’t need to be a guinea pig for toxic chemicals and harmful synthetic fragrances thanks to Etsy shop Guinea Hill Soap’s softener concentrate.

Made of four simple ingredients—vinegar, emulsifying coconut, sunflower oil, and phthalate free essential oil fragrances—it’s designed to be an additive to an ingredient you probably already own: vinegar. Simply dilute with home vinegar and add to your wash cycle.

It comes in a widely recyclable #2 plastic bottle, which we’ll let slide since it’s long-lasting, all-natural, homemade, ethically sourced, vegan, palm-oil free, and cruelty-free.

About Guinea Hill Soap

Laundry is a sacred ritual that doesn’t have to be so industrialized. That’s why we love Guinea Hill Soap for its authentically farm fresh approach to liquid fabric softeners.

Operated by farmer Mary out of her permaculture-focused family farm in Michigan, just about every ingredient is grown fresh on the property, by neighboring local farmers, or sourced from ethical, global channels—like her butters which come from women-owned companies in Africa.

One month a year, they give a percentage of income to Type One Diabetes research.

7. Non-Toxic DIY Fabric Softeners

7 Eco-Friendly Fabric Softeners For Oh-So Organic & Soft LaundryImages by Sustainable Jungle#ecofriendlyfabricsoftener #ecofabricsoftener #bestecofriendlyfabricsoftener #organicfabricsoftener #ecofriendlyfabricsoftenersheets #sustainablejungle
Images by Sustainable Jungle

The best eco-friendly fabric softener likely already resides in the cupboards of your zero waste kitchen pantry—or at least the ingredients do.

Not only is the DIY approach easy on the environment, your skin, and your health, it’s also just plain easy! All you need is water, baking soda, vinegar, and optional essential oils.

  1. Mix two parts warm water to one-part baking soda in a bowl.
  2. Stir until mixed and add in one-part vinegar.
  3. Add in 2-5 drops of essential oils, or until your mixture is scented as desired. 
  4. Use ¼ cup of your mixture in the washer per laundry load. 

Alternatively, we find baking soda on its own also helps to soften clothes if added to the drum for a pre-wash before adding your regular sustainable laundry detergent for the main cycle.

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Do You Need To Use Fabric Softeners?

Back in the 1950s, when laundry detergents left clothes scratchy and stiff, fabric softeners took households by storm, but today, most natural laundry detergents and modern dryers are already made to soften clothes.

Fabric softener works by covering the fabric in a chemical lubricant film. This coating stops static by making clothes slippery to lessen friction, as well as adding a positive charge to neutralize the clothes’ negative static charge. 

But here’s the thing: they’re not only bad for your skin, your health, and the environment, but it’s also bad for your clothing. They split apart the fibers in fabrics, and while that makes items like towels more fluffy, it also this damages the integrity and lifespan of the fibers.

Any cashmere, wool, and synthetic fabrics should absolutely not go anywhere near fabric softener, which can build up over time and “clog” the fabric, making water or detergent tough to wash through. If elastane or nylon get too coated with the waxy film, it also stops the garment from its ability to release moisture. In other words, fabric softener inhibits the breathability of your sustainable activewear, which can cause bad smells, bacteria, and even related skin infections. 

Healthwise, there’s a whole laundry list of common chemicals and reasons to avoid them, including:

Plus, many fabric softeners contain palm oil and animal byproducts, such as dihydrogenated tallow dimethyl ammonium chloride derived from animal fat.

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