Next time you’re doing the laundry, try one of these unusual uses for used dryer sheets before throwing yours away. From cleaning tasks to deodorizing things, a used dryer sheet still can still do more.
Ordinarily, we think of dryer sheets as one-task wonders. But why not really get your money’s worth by putting them to work more around the house?
What are Dryer Sheets?
If you typically use liquid fabric softener in the laundry or prefer to add vinegar to the rinse cycle to eliminate static, you may have never used a dryer sheet before.
Sold under different brand names, these square bits of unwoven polyester all have one purpose in common: eliminating static cling.
How Do Dryer Sheets Work?
Rub a dryer sheet between your fingers and you’ll notice a slick, almost sticky feel. This comes from the surfactants embedded in the material, and the type of surfactant varies between manufacturers. Some are scented, some are not.
The clothes dryer’s heat causes a reaction that makes them work.
During tumble drying, the coating containing the softener melts and the compounds get transferred onto the fabrics being dried. The newly attached fatty chains give the fabric’s surface a slippery feel, which people interpret as softness. The compounds also help dissipate static charge by lubricating and increasing the surface conductivity of the fabric fibers.Chemical and Engineering News
Yes, You Can Reuse Dryer Sheets
Most brands of dryer sheets have so much softener embedded in them that they’ll work in more than one load of laundry. It all depends on the brand and, of course, how big a load of laundry is.
But even a dryer sheet that no longer feels slick can still be helpful.
Uses for Used Dryer Sheets
Freshen Up Around the House
Scented dryer sheets can deodorize a variety of stinky stuff.
- Tuck them in your gym bag
- Stick one in the bottom of your trash can to combat odors
- Pop one in your suitcase before storing it after travel
- Put one on the shelf of a musty closet
- Slap one on the back of a box fan to freshen an entire room
- Stuff them into stinky shoes
- Slip one between folded towels or sheets in your linen closet
- Use a used dryer in place of sachets in your dresser drawers
Keep Surfaces Dust-Free Longer
The remaining surfactants in used dryer sheets are useful for repelling dust on all sorts of household surfaces. So, pick one up and wipe it on surfaces like these:
- TV and computer screens
- Large houseplant leaves
Clean Grime with Less Scrubbing
The slightly rough texture of used dryer sheets is a useful substitute for scrubbing pads, while the remaining surfactants help loosen grime. Try them in these spots around the house:
- Cut through soap scum on glass shower doors (though for truly tough jobs you should use this homemade soap scum remover first).
- Get rid of the white film in flower vases by filling them with warm water and adding used dryer sheets. Let them sit for an hour or more and then wipe the inside sparkling clean.
- Eliminate water spots and shine bathroom faucets by using a dryer sheet to wipe them.
- Stop scrubbing pots and pans with baked-on food and use a dryer sheet to loosen the mess instead. Just toss one in the pan and fill it with warm water. Let sit overnight, and the mess will slide right out.
- Use a damp one to clean gunk on the bottom of your clothes iron. Be sure it’s unplugged first, of course.
Keep Your Car Cleaner
Although not a substitute for cleaning your car like a pro, you can use a used dryer sheet to at least keep your ride more presentable.
- Scrub away bug splatters on your windshield easily.
- Keep your headlights shining bright.
- Polish chrome rims and accents to a sparkle.
- Stash a few in your glovebox to dust the console and dash when you’re stuck in traffic.
- Tuck one under a seat to freshen your car.
Control Pests of All Sorts
Many pests dislike either the scent or texture of dryer sheets, so use them to keep annoying critters or bugs from bothering you.
- Hang one from your belt loop to jam the odor receptors that mosquitoes use to find you.
- If you’re trying to get rid of mice, stuff a used dryer sheet in any suspected entry points. They hate the taste and won’t chew through them.
- Put one near your potted plants to deter fungus gnats.
- Hang them on garden fences to help repel deer and other animals that like to chew on your plants.
Control Static Outside the Dryer
Grab a used dryer sheet and wipe things prone to static.
- Run one on your hair or hairbrush.
- Slide one along pants legs or skirts when static strikes.
- Rub one along curtains or pillows that cling.
Untangle Tricky Things
A used dryer sheet can help prevent and unsnarl tangles.
- Before sewing, run one along the length of your thread to keep it from curling and knotting while you work.
- Wipe tangled hair with a dryer sheet and you won’t have to yank the comb through it.
- Slide one over knotted jewelry chains to make them easier to straighten out.
Deal with Paint Messes
The fatty surfactants in used dryer sheets can loosen dried-on paint, making it easier to clean up messes without resorting to paint thinner.
- If you accidentally got paint on the window when touching up trim, hold a damp dryer sheet on the spot for a minute or two then use a spatula to lift away the mess.
- Paint brushes with dried-on latex paint can be cleaned and softened with a used dryer sheet. Soak the brush in warm water with one for an hour then use it to clean the bristles and rinse.
So, next time you’re doing laundry, don’t toss the dryer sheets! Stash them in a Mason jar or other container in the laundry room, and you’ll always have a supply for these unusual uses for used dryer sheets around the house.
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