I have been meaning to post about this for awhile now, glad I finally remembered.
When I was reading copious websites while pregnant about cloth diapering, I noticed a lot of people recommended using vinegar in the wash to help balance the pH. I saved that piece of knowledge for future use should I need it.
Because Blaise was born in the winter and my parents were still here, we were using the dryer 100% of the time. Once the weather started getting warmer, I wanted to hang dry most of our things. Towels and baby clothes went directly on the drying rack and our clothes went through the dryer for a fluff-only to help get out wrinkles. Since the baby clothes weren't being washed with fabric softener (too many yucky chemicals) and now were not going to be dryer-dried, I started looking for an alternative to make sure they weren't rough. Ta-da: Vinegar! I started using (distilled) vinegar as a replacement for the softener and it worked great! I had been using eco-softener on our clothes, but since the vinegar was so great I now use it for everything!
I know it sounds crazy, but I promise the laundry doesn't come out smelling vinegar-y, your clothes are soft(er), not static-y and the best part is you aren't putting chemicals that can't break down into the water! My mom was sceptical at first when she was here visiting in June, but she became a believer, too! (Have you ditched the Downy yet, Mom?)
Another tip I've heard is to use wool dryer balls in the dryer, they supposedly help with wrinkles and static, though I haven't tried it out.
Here is an interesting article with some good trips about alternatives to fabric softener.
Another benefit: it's cheaper!!