There’s nothing quite like pulling a shirt fresh from the dryer. It’s warm, soft, and as you bury your nose into the fabric, it smells of fresh summer rain. Or at least, that’s what the dryer sheets package says the chemical scent is supposed to mimic.
Fabric softener sheets and their synthetic scents may seem harmless enough, but with more and more people developing respiratory problems, scent sensitivities and allergies, something as small as a dryer sheet can have an enormous effect on health and well-being.
What are store-bought dryer sheets made from?
Typically, dryer sheets are made from a polyester sheet saturated in a combination of chemicals which help to:
- Soften clothing
- Prevent static
- Infuse a pleasant smell
Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, to achieve these results, dryer sheets must be coated with some pretty harsh chemicals, including allergens such as limonene and linalool and respiratory irritants such as acetaldehyde and butane.
The good news is, you don’t have to deal with chemicals you’ve never heard of just to have laundry that smells like lavender or jasmine and doesn't cling to your clothing.
Benefits of DIY Dryer Sheets
Simple, easy to make and less expensive than a lot of other brand-name products, homemade dryer sheets are a great alternative to synthetic dryer sheets.
Not only are you getting all three benefits you want (softer clothes, static reduction and a pleasant scent), you’re also getting a few other awesome benefits:
- Save money – The ingredients for DIY dryer sheets are inexpensive and will last longer than a box of store-bought sheets.
- Save the environment – Because DIY sheets are reusable, you’re cutting down on waste and helping to protect the environment.
- Save your health – You know exactly what’s going into your homemade dryer sheets and that means you can choose non-allergenic, healthy ingredients.
How to Make Homemade Dryer Sheets
- Cloth squares (recycled from old clothing or towels or new washcloths; or, wool balls)
- White vinegar
- Essential oils
- Mixing bowl
- Mason jars with lid
Step 1– Collect your materials
Grab some reusable cloths – either new washcloths, maybe with with fun patterns, or, if you’d rather recycle, use old rags that you have lying around the house (as long as they're clean). Then find a medium-sized, sealable glass jar.
Step 2 – Prepare your dryer sheets
Pour one cup of white vinegar (which has slight anti-static properties) into a mixing bowl, then add about 25 drops of your desired essential oil. Gently stir, then dunk the individual cloth pieces into the mixture, trying not to completely soak them.
Bonus tip: For a DIY fabric softener, try adding in half a cup of baking soda when your washing machine load enters its rinse cycle. Baking soda will help to balance the pH levels of the water, slightly softening the fabric inside the load.
Step 3 – Storage and use
Place the damp cloth pieces inside your mason jar, tighten that lid on, and voila! Now you’ve got your homemade dryer sheets. Toss in one cloth piece/rag into the dryer with each load. Don’t worry about the initial vinegar smell – it will evaporate, leaving behind that lovely essential oil fragrance on your clothes. Then, when your jar is empty, repeat that ‘cycle’!