Home and Garden, Natural Cleaning

Make Your Own Fabric Conditioner In Seconds

I’ve got a really simple recipe for you today on how to make your own fabric conditioner.

You might be wondering why you need to make your own fabric conditioner when it’s widely available in the shops? And you might think you’re doing a good thing for your clothes when you reach for the fabric conditioner.  I don’t blame you.  Decades upon decades of marketing have convinced millions of us that fabric conditioner is a vital element of the laundry process. There’s a whopping $12 billion global market for the product.

But, I’ve got a little secret for you: you really don’t need to use conventional fabric conditioner.  The eco-friendly alternative to fabric conditioner I’m going to share costs just pennies per load and is much more effective, load per load, at softening your clothes.

How to Make Your Own Fabric Conditioner

make your own fabric conditioner

I’m a big fan of natural cleaning products to DIY.  Therefore, this homemade eco-friendly alternative to fabric conditioner is much better for you, your clothes, your washing machine and your environment. It’s perfect for people with sensitive skin, and it contains just two simple and inexpensive ingredients:

You will need:

500ml Glass bottle/jar
500ml White vinegar – here’s where to buy white vinegar in bulk for cleaning
30 drops of essential oil of your choice

Directions:

Fill your bottle/jar with vinegar, and add around 30 drops of essential oil to your vinegar

To Use:

Shake well before use.

At the stage when you are adding your laundry detergent to your machine, fill the fabric conditioner compartment of the drawer up to the line with the scented vinegar.  For a half load of washing, decrease the amount by half.

Using this mixture in place of fabric conditioner will give your laundry a delicate and clean aroma without a hint of vinegar — I promise!  If there is still a trace of vinegar on your wet clothes, be assured this will dissipate as the clothes dry.

My favourite oils to use for fabric conditioner are lemon and sweet orange for a zingy citrus aroma.  However, feel free to substitute depending on your preferences.  Alternatively, you can skip the oil for a scent-free conditioner.

Vinegar makes for a great natural fabric conditioner because its acidic nature cuts through soapy residue and limescale, helping to keep white clothes whiter. It’s also safe to use on coloured fabrics.

Unlike conventional fabric conditioner, this homemade version won’t interfere with the absorbency of your laundry, making your clothes and towels last longer and smell better. Nor will it leave deposits in your washing machine or plumbing.  In fact, vinegar also cuts through grease so you’ll actually clean your machine every time you do a load of laundry.  Double win!

Why You Should Ditch The Shop Bought Fabric Conditioner

Not convinced by homemade fabric conditioner? Here are four reasons to ditch the softener in favour of an effective eco-friendly alternative.

1. Fabric conditioner is terrible for some of your clothes and towels

Fabric conditioner essentially applies a thin, waxy coating to your laundry, which has to be water-resistant in order to survive the washing process.  

This waterproof coating makes your clothes feel softer but lessens their ability to properly absorb water and laundry detergent.  This means your clothes won’t respond as well to washing and will be more likely to lock in bad odours.

The chemical coating can also make your towels less absorbent over time and reduce the performance of sweat-resistant sportswear.  

Fabric conditioner is also harsh on cotton or bamboo clothing, which normally absorbs light perspiration on its own.  As soon as fabric conditioner is introduced, that absorption is lost.

When used on clothing containing elastane and nylon (such as leggings, skinny jeans, and bras), fabric conditioner can leave a residue that dulls the item’s finish and attracts odour-causing bacteria.

2. Some conventional brands aren’t vegetarian or vegan

Rather alarmingly, some fabric conditioners aren’t vegetarian- or vegan-friendly.  One ingredient found in certain brands is dihydrogenated tallow dimethyl ammonium chloride.  In simpler terms: animal fat.  This fat is extracted from suet — the fatty tissues around the kidneys of cattle and sheep.  Suddenly that colourful bottle sitting in your laundry room doesn’t look quite as innocuous as it did at first.

3. It’s not great for us or the environment

Fabric softeners often contain a cocktail of non-renewable petroleum-based chemicals, which are not easily biodegradable.

A study by the University of Washington found that certain chemicals found in fabric conditioner are likely human carcinogens, developmental toxins, and allergens that can contribute to eczema.  These chemicals included the likely human carcinogens acetaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, the developmental toxicants methyl ethyl ketone and chloromethane, and allergens like linalool.

Once these chemicals are washed down the drain they can become highly toxic to aquatic life too.

4. It’s bad for your washing machine and plumbing.

As many brands of fabric conditioner are petroleum-based and full of animal fat, they can clog up your washing machine (especially if it’s a front-loading one) and pipes.

Fabric conditioner can also encourage the growth of mould in your machine.  Due to its fat content, when fabric conditioner is exposed to air and moisture, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and mould.  And because of the design of most machines, it means that the water-resistant softener is never quite washed out properly. This leaves a residue that only encourages the growth of bacteria and black mould throughout your whole washing machine.  Which does not make for pleasant reading.

If you have been using a conventional fabric conditioner, then it’s really easy to clean the bacteria and mould from your washing machine.  Check out my guide on how to clean a washing machine to banish bacteria and mould for good.

I also have a ton of other laundry tips that you might find useful.  Firstly, how to dry clean at home.  Secondly, this is a good one to legitimise laziness – how often should you wash your clothes.  I also have a guide on how to wash wool, and how to wash striped clothing.  And lastly, I have a handy guide to natural stain removal.

This article originally appeared on mindbodygreen

Energy Saving, Home and Garden

Here’s How The Loop App Can Save You Money and Carbon | AD

This is paid-for content in association with Loop.

With energy prices sky high and set to rise by a further 40% in the autumn, it’s never made more financial sense to save energy where we can.  And with climate scientists telling us that it’s imperative to act now to limit planetary warming, it’s never made more environmental sense to reduce our household emissions.

Right now it’s impossible to switch providers to get a better energy deal.  All suppliers are charging the capped price. Meanwhile, the few deals on offer to fix the price are more expensive, not less.  This means the only way to reduce costs and energy usage is to save energy where we can.  But just how do we go about saving energy? Step forward Loop.  

What Is Loop?

Person using a smartphone with a blue text box that says here's how the Loop App can save you money and carbon.  It's also marked as an advert.

Loop is a clever free app, from Trust Power, that’s available on both iOS and Android. This app helps people to reduce their home’s energy consumption and impact on the environment, while also saving money. 

What’s so clever about the Loop app is that it integrates with your smart meter.  A smart meter is an energy monitor – it doesn’t help you save money on its own.  However, when you pair it with Loop its power is magnified.  

Pairing it allows Loop to analyse your energy use. From there, the Lopp app then shows you easy and personalised ways to use less energy in your home.  In fact, Loop says that on average, app users can cut their energy use by 10%.  That’s a healthy saving just by downloading the app, and the best part is that it’s completely free to sign up!

Loop app gas dashboard.

It takes 5 minutes to set up an account. Loop uses your bank card to prove your identity and confirm your address, but that’s all it’s used for. Loop doesn’t take any payment and can’t take any payment in future.

Once you’ve done that, you’re good to start saving energy.

Loop’s Handy Carbon Calculator

Should you be in a position to do more, Loop’s handy Carbon Calculator is another key feature of the app.

This calculator takes you on a net-zero journey – using your current home energy use and transport choices to calculate your starting point.  To start with, it asks some basic questions about your home.  These include the number of bedrooms you have, how you currently heat your home and the type of car you have.  

The calculator then shows you the impact – in carbon emissions – that various energy-efficiency and renewable options would make to your home, to get it to net-zero.  This includes measures such as insulating your home, going solar, going electric for your heating, and switching to an electric vehicle.  

How The Loop App Can Help You Go Solar

Solar power is now making more financial sense for people. After April’s price cap rise, Loop says the payback time on a typical solar install has reduced by 30%.  If you are considering solar panels, but are not sure if it’s the best option for your home, then the Loop app also has a useful solar simulator and solar playground to help you out.

In the solar simulator, you can test how solar panels and a home battery would work for you before you invest.  Using your energy data from your smart meter, alongside details about your house and weather information, Loop can cleverly show you the actual difference solar power could make to your monthly bills and your reliance on grid energy.  

Once you’ve tried out the solar simulator, and understood the daily, weekly and monthly view of what solar could do for you, you can progress to Loop’s solar playground.  Here you can see just how self-sufficient your home could be with different sized solar arrays and home battery combinations.

Example of Loop's solar playground.

My Experiences With The Loop App

I gave the Loop app a try.  It was super simple to set up. After I put in our address details it automatically knew our smart meter code, and immediately started pulling in our energy usage data.

It took about 24 hours to pull together all of our data. From there, I really appreciated the ability to track our energy usage to see where savings could be made easily.  The handy dashboard tells you if your energy usage is up or down, compared to both your average day and week, so you can take action accordingly.

The dashboard also handily lets you know what your current phantom load is. This is the energy used in the background, such as when devices are left on standby, or consciously kept running, such as your fridge freezer or router. As well as letting you know what this phantom load is costing you each year, Loop offers you handy hints and tips to reduce this figure.

I was also able to see our last five months of energy use in one place. I found this helpful to identify patterns in our household energy use.  Because of Loop, I’m now conscious that Sundays are high energy use days for us. It’s handy to know this to allow us to try and be more mindful of the energy we consume on a Sunday.

Loop dashboard showing monthly view.

Beyond saving energy, to be honest, I was sceptical about what Loop could offer me. We have already upgraded a lot of our home when we renovated it.  We installed serious amounts of insulation in the loft, walls and under the floors, and draught-proofed what we could. 

We’re also quite limited in further changes we can make.  We don’t have a driveway so installing an electric vehicle charger isn’t possible.  And from what I understand the roof of our tiny terraced cottage is too small for solar panels.  

However, what surprised me was the difference that switching to a low carbon alternative for our heating source could make to our home’s carbon emissions.  As such, I’m really keen to investigate further switching to a low carbon alternative, such as a heat pump, once we have the necessary funds saved up.  As we’ve already insulated our home, it feels like the hard part is already complete! 

How You Can Get Started

Ready to start saving money and energy? Download the free Loop app today and start saving!