Knowing how to make your own dryer sheets will save you a considerable amount of money. Plus, if you’re an allergy sufferer like me, your sinuses will thank you.
What could be easier than grabbing a dryer sheet, popping it in with your damp clothes, and letting it do its thing? Unfortunately, “doing its thing” also means wasting your money. Depending on what type of dryer sheets you use, its “thing” might also irritate your allergies and skin.
Why make your own?
While a small study indicates that scented dryer sheets may cause cancer, this has been highly disputed.
Other sources claim that the petroleum-based chemicals on dryer sheets can harm your dryer by leaving behind a residue that clogs your lint filter and reduces efficiency. Over time, that buildup can also cause house fires.
If you or a family member has eczema or, like me, suffers from psoriasis, you may find that dryer sheets make such skin problems even worse. That’s particularly true for babies or those with suppressed immune systems.
One thing is sure, though: since dryer sheets aren’t biodegradable, they add to landfills. They can also be harmful to pets, which seem to be fascinated by their texture.
The solution? Make your own dryer sheets. It’s easy, it saves money, and, depending on which of the methods below that you use, it may reduce your allergy or skin issues, too.
How to make your own dryer sheets
Vinegar is a fantastic laundry aid. Although it has quite a pong straight out of the bottle, the odor disappears as it dries, so there’s no worry your clothes will come out smelling like you’re wearing a salad.
- Fill a container with white vinegar and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil (optional). Since this is straight vinegar, which is highly acidic, be sure to choose a non-metallic container and lid.
- Cut an old sheet or t-shirt in squares and stuff them in the jar with the vinegar. Shake well, so the squares get fully saturated.
- To use, just grab a square — don’t wring it out — and pop it into the dryer with your clothes.
- Return the squares to the container of vinegar after each use. Add more vinegar and essential oils as needed to keep the jar topped off.
With hair conditioner
If you’re trying to avoid unknown chemicals, you’ll want to use an organic conditioner that’s free of parabens, sulfates, dimethicone, synthetic fragrances, and synthetic preservatives. I’ve had great luck using this Dr. Bronner’s Conditioner and Styling Cream, which smells amazing, too.
- Combine 3 parts hair conditioner with 1 part white vinegar in a jar and shake well.
- Cut up an old sheet or t-shirt into 4×4-inch squares and stuff them in the jar, then shake again.
- Remove the squares from the jar, wring them out, and let them completely air dry. Store the dried squares in a clean, empty jar or another kind of container.
- To use, toss a square into the dryer with your clothes. Each square lasts up to three loads. Save the used squares to make your next batch.
With fabric softener
If you live in an area with very hard water, you’ve probably realized that adding fabric softener to the rinse cycle is a waste of money — the hard water just washes it away. Still, fabric softener is less expensive than dryer sheets and leads to less disposable waste, so this method may be just what you’re looking for.
- Cut 6×6″ squares from an old towel or use old washcloths for this method. Flannel baby wipes are wonderful for this purpose.
- Put 12 squares in a large bowl and add 1 cup of fabric softener.
- Using your hands or a spoon, work the fabric softener into the cloths until they’re fully saturated.
- Remove cloths one at a time, lightly squeezing them to wring out excess softener, and hang them from a laundry line to dry. Store the dried cloths in an open container.
- To use, just toss a cloth into the dryer with your clothes and it’ll work just as well as a dryer sheet. Bonus: you can re-use the same cloth for 10-12 loads.
- To make more, run your used cloths through the laundry using hot water to wash and rinse,
then repeat the instructions above.