There are many things to consider when standing in the dryer sheet aisle at the grocery store. These little sheets do a lot of work reducing static and wrinkles, leaving your laundry soft and with a classic fragrance.
They can also lock in odors, damage some fabrics like athleticwear and towels, and leave a residue that may clog the lint trap.
The laundry extra that many of us have been tossing into our dryers for years, dryer sheets are super-thin pieces of paper or polyester coated with a solution that transfers to your garments when heated up in the dryer during the drying cycle. They cut down on static, soften fabrics and deliver a lovely fragrance to your freshly laundered clothes, but could they be doing more harm than good?
The scented dryer sheet chemicals are often irritants, especially for sensitive skin. They might also be a fire risk, so avoid using them with kids’ sleepwear and other flame-retardant clothing.
You can find unscented options and eco-friendly alternatives to standard dryer sheets online, including reusable dryer balls and natural fabric softeners that work as well or better for your laundry. However, you can purchase dryer sheets for other household tasks and hacks, like a quick deodorizer for your gym bag or an eyeglass cleaner.
Dryer sheets are coated with liquid fabric softeners that transfer to your clothing during the dryer cycle. While they make your clothes feel softer, some people are concerned that their chemical ingredients could harm health. Consider alternatives like Norwex wool dryer balls or fewer dryer sheets to reduce exposure to these chemicals.
Although dryer sheets are effective in most laundry loads, they shouldn’t be used with certain fabrics. They can leave a residue that affects the absorbency of moisture-wicking materials, such as athleticwear or microfiber. They also shouldn’t be used on towels, which can ruin the fabric softeners’ coating.
Dryer sheets have many other off-label uses besides banishing static and adding a fresh scent to your laundry. You can use them to buff water spots on chrome surfaces, sweep dust off floors, or freshen a stinky garbage can. They even work great to remove pet fur from clothing and upholstered furniture.
You may already be guilty of tossing dryer sheets into your laundry, but you might not know how much damage those chemicals do to your laundry, your dryer and the environment. Healthline reports that a few simple alternatives, like reusable wool dryer balls or baking soda, can do the same job as dryer sheets without the dangerous chemicals.
When different fabrics tumble against each other in the dryer, they can get stuck together by static electricity. Dryer sheets reduce static by balancing the electrons and ions on the fabric’s surface. This process gives your clothes a soft, smooth feel and free of static cling.
The main ingredients of dryer sheets are liquid softeners and lubricants that release as they heat up in the dryer. They’re also scented and contain antistatic properties. Suppose you’re concerned about the environmental impact of dryer sheets. Several green alternatives can work similarly, including using vinegar or rubbing a dry bar of soap on your clothing.
Dryer sheets are typically polyester and coated with substances that help your clothes dry faster. These include stearic acid, montmorillonite, and fragrances. These chemicals are released into the air while your clothes are drying and can contribute to respiratory problems. They also can cause dermatitis and migraines and may irritate your skin.
Cellulose fiber or cotton dryer sheets are a greener option since they come from renewable resources and are biodegradable. However, they can still release toxins into the air and be toxic to animals and children.
Alternatively, you can use a wool dryer ball or natural fabric softening sachets for your laundry. These are reusable and can be refilled with your favorite essential oil for fresh scents without the chemical fragrances. Another alternative is to use aluminum foil in your dryer. It interrupts the electrical charges that generate static cling and helps your laundry to dry faster. This can save you money, energy, and time in the long run!