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Laundry is the choriest of chores. Now with studies showing that dryer vents may give off pollution when certain products are used, the doing of laundry has become even more annoying.
And look, dryer sheets aren’t all bad (we see you, Snuggle Bear). However, if you’re looking for another option to get those clothes toasty, dry, soft, and static-free, there are plenty of dryer sheet alternatives to try.
From DIY dryer sheet substitutes to a common kitchen item you can ball up and throw in the dryer, your laundry day can become a little healthier with no extra work. Here are some of the best dryer sheet replacements.
When it comes to natural household cleaning, the answer is always vinegar. Unsurprisingly, vinegar is a great replacement for dryer sheets! Either add 1/4 cup of vinegar to the wash cycle for softer clothes or dampen a washcloth with vinegar and throw that into the dryer.
White or apple cider vinegar works. Don’t worry about the scent, the vinegar smell dissipates and your clothes won’t smell like they’ve been rinsed in pickle brine.
Another natural cleaning class to the rescue — baking soda! Add about a teaspoon of baking soda to the wash cycle. This will help soften your clothes and leave no scent or residue.
Don’t use vinegar and baking soda together during the wash cycle, though — unless you really want to see your second-grade volcano experiment come to life in your washing machine.
Vinegar and baking soda do a good job of naturally softening clothes, but they don’t do much for static. Wool dryer balls are a natural, reusable alternative.
They go right in the dryer with your clothes and as the balls bounce around, they help air circulation to dry clothes faster. When clothes dry faster, there’s less of a chance for static.
Once that cycle is done, you can reuse the wool balls over and over. (Some people got over a year of use from one set!)
Most claims that dryer sheets contain toxic chemicals are false (in fact the USDA categorizes dryer sheet ingredients as generally safe). However, there is some evidence that suggests artificial fragrances emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and can cause irritation.
If you’d like some scent without side effects, add a few drops of essential oil to your wool dryer balls. Place 2 to 3 drops of essential oil on each dryer ball, then let that ball dry completely (otherwise the oil might transfer to your clothes). Shop for quality essential oils before you dive in.
When dry, throw the wool balls in the dryer like normal. The scent should last 3 to 6 washes (depending on the essential oil) and you can create a custom scent masterpiece with the essential oils of your choice!
Regular dryer sheets can create a lot of waste. Enter reusable dryer sheets. These sheets that resemble cloths are made from natural fabrics and are typically chemical and fragrance-free. You throw them in the dryer like any other sheet, but you can use them for months on end.
This won’t soften your clothes but it’ll do a number on static cling. Take some regular aluminum foil, make a ball about the size of a baseball, and toss it in the dryer.
The ball discharges built-up static in the clothes and also helps your items dry faster. A single ball of foil can last through tons of washes, so this is definitely the cheapest and easiest choice for static.
If you forget to add baking soda to the rinse cycle or don’t feel like finding a washcloth and vinegar every time you dry your clothes, you can make your own dryer sheets in advance.
Use any old cloth (retired t-shirts, old towels, scrap fabric) and put a few squares in an airtight glass container. Add vinegar (you can even mix in essential oils for a nice scent) to the container until the cloth is damp but not soaked.
Then, whenever you need to dry something, wring out one of these cloths, put it in the dryer, and enjoy your naturally-softened clothes!
Dryer sheets aren’t the root of all evil. If you really like the effect of dryer sheets, but want to avoid some of the irritating side effects, buy the scent-free version. These are often labeled as “sensitive” or “hypoallergenic” and don’t contain artificial fragrances.
Dryer sheets aren’t great, but they’re not the worst things you can buy. Despite some scary studies, there’s little evidence to show that dryer sheets alone are spewing toxic chemicals into your home. Many of those studies are debated for their small sample size and inability to be reproduced.
However, fragrances in laundry products have been found to cause irritation. If you have sensitive skin or breathing problems, it might be worth eliminating them from your laundry routine.
Outside of the toxicity debate, dryer sheets also just aren’t great at their job. Each sheet has a coating that melts off during a dryer session and transfers to your clothes. This coating is what makes clothes feel softer and provides a barrier that reduces static.
Some blogs make dryer sheets sound like the devil. They aren’t. But if you’d like to reduce your overall waste, have fewer irritants on your fabric, and improve the breathability of your clothes, reach for a dryer sheet alternative.