Have you ever uttered that phrase? Especially during a marathon laundry session? White vinegar and an aluminum foil ball are all you need to achieve soft, static-free laundry.
I use about 1/2 cup of white vinegar in the rinse water for a top-load machine. Use 1/4 cup for HE machines. For both machines, place the vinegar in the liquid fabric softener dispenser for your machine. Your clothes may or may not come out with a vinegary smell to them, but that will disappear in the dryer.
If your clothes have static, this is where the aluminum foil ball comes in. Tear off an approximately cookie sheet size piece of foil and roll it into a ball. I wait until the clothes are dry or nearly dry to see if they are sticking together. Then I throw in 1-2 balls of foil and restart the machine to finish drying. I know some people place the foil balls in at the beginning of the drying cycle, but I have a fear of the foil abrading the inside of the machine, so I wait until the clothes are almost dry. The foil balls will last for up to 6 months and can be reused over and over again.
This is really neat trick for people who have allergies and are allergic to commercial scented fabric softeners. It leaves no scent whatsoever, except what remains from your laundry detergent, and it has an added benefit of making any towels you may have washed super soft, fluffy, and more absorbent. The white vinegar removes hard water deposits and soap residue from prior washings, making clothes brighter and softer.
This method is also environmentally friendly and "green" because it does not use harsh chemicals, dyes, or fragrances to achieve soft and static-free clothes. I use this frequently with my loads of white towels and wash clothes to make them soft and more absorbent. While I like the smell of fabric softeners and use them most of the time, this is a wonderful and economical alternative to store-bought softeners.