People with allergies can use vinegar in place of fabric softener in the wash. By adding 3/4 cup of vinegar to the final rinse cycle, clothes come out feeling soft.
Dryer sheets and liquid fabric softeners contain potentially harmful ingredients, according to HowStuffWorks. Benzyl acetate is linked to pancreatic cancer, while benzyl alcohol is considered an upper respiratory irritant. In addition to being a neurotoxin, chloroform is a known carcinogen, as is limonene. Ethanol is connected with nervous system problems. Some fabric softener sheets also contain tallow, or animal fat. Using vinegar to replace fabric softener eliminates these potential health risks and saves money, as vinegar is less expensive than commercial fabric softener.
Vinegar has other uses in the laundry room as well. Immersing brightly colored fabrics in undiluted vinegar prior to washing helps them maintain their colors. It's best to test an inconspicuous area of the fabric first. Stains such as cola and wine can be removed from cotton, polyester and permanent press cotton fabrics by applying undiluted vinegar to the stain within 24 hours of staining and washing as directed. Unwanted soap residue is easily removed from the washing machine by adding 1 cup of vinegar and running the machine through a normal cycle without clothes.