You empty all your pockets, separate the colors, tote them to the car, and drive to your favorite laundromat… but oh no! You forgot the dryer sheets! The moment of indecision arrives. You ask yourself, should I buy dryer sheets from the Sudsy Water attendant? Should I run to the nearby store and buy a whole new box of them? And finally… do I really need dryer sheets? Why am I spending so much money on those things anyway!?
Almost everyone forgets their dryer sheets at least once… or they run out of them and wonder if they actually need to buy more. In this article, we will explore this common question and related questions.
The problem is that these purposes, as legitimate as they are, create other problems, primarily toxicity, to people and to the environment. Below, we will discuss some alternatives that give the same positive results as dryer sheets but do not create additional problems, i.e. they are effective yet non-toxic eco-friendly alternatives.
Do You Actually Need Dryer Sheets?
The short answer is “no” because there are alternatives that work just as well, if not better! Plus, these alternatives are non-toxic and much cheaper!
One of the simplest alternatives to dryer sheets is to simply add one-half cup of plain white vinegar to your laundry. It’s best to put this into the same place you’d add liquid fabric softener.
Vinegar will make your clothes feel much softer and will help with static electricity. However, vinegar will not completely eliminate static electricity if you use a dryer. To do this, take a sheet of aluminum foil, wad it up loosely into a ball, and toss it into the dryer with your wet clothes. This will collect many of the loose electrons and virtually eliminate the static electricity problem!
Vinegar is also very good at neutralizing bad odors from smoke, pets, and mildew! For example, if you fold and store your towels and bedding when it is still slightly wet, they may develop a musty mildew odor after a while. Rewashing them in vinegar should eliminate this problem because it actually kills the mildew in the fibers. On the other hand, attempting to “mask” this mildew odor with the chemical fragrances of dryer sheets doesn’t really work because this does not kill the mildew. Once the chemical fragrance wears off, and this happens fairly quickly, you still have living mildew embedded in your fibers!
Please note that you’ll need to use more vinegar if you use a high capacity washing machine at the laundromat simply because it’s a much bigger load.
Many people who are sensitive to chemical fragrances prefer to leave fragrances out of their clothes altogether. However, there is a fool proof non-toxic eco-friendly way to add a pleasant scent to your laundry without the use of chemicals. To do so, you simply add one to ten drops of an essential oil to your detergent. You’ll probably want to do this before you arrive at the laundromat so you can mix it in good.
Lavender is a popular essential oil choice for laundry purposes. This essential herb has the added advantage of being in the mint family, and therefore, is a natural antiseptic and will kill any bacteria or fungi in your materials. Other popular essential oils to add to laundry detergent include lemon, orange, grapefruit, rose, pine, lemongrass, bergamot, rosemary, eucalyptus, spearmint, cinnamon, and cloves. With essential oils, unlike commercial dryer sheets, you can control the scent used precisely. You can also control how strong you want the scent to be by using more or less drops.