It’s so easy to make DIY dryer sheets that are gentle on your clothes as well as your budget.
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” in this case means wasting your money. Depending on what type of dryer sheets you use, its “thing” might also irritate your allergies and skin.
Why Make DIY Dryer Sheets?
Even if dry sheets themselves don’t seem expensive, the effect they have on your clothes dryer can add up. That’s because the petroleum coating on dryer sheets can harm your dryer since it leaves a residue that clogs your lint filter and reduces efficiency.
Then there are the health-related issues. People with eczema often find that dryer sheets make their skin itchier. Psoriasis led me to try making my own dryer sheets, and I found the switch helped improve things dramatically.
There’s an environmental reason, too. Dryer sheets aren’t biodegradable, so they add to landfills. They can also be harmful to pets, which seem to be fascinated by their texture.
How to Make Dryer Sheets
The solution to all of these issues? 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.
Vinegar is a fantastic laundry aid. Although it smells strong in 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.
1. 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.
2. Cut an old sheet or t-shirt in squares and stuff them in the jar. Shake well to saturate all of the fabric.
3. To use, grab a square — don’t wring it out — and pop it into the dryer with your clothes.
You can reuse the same homemade dryer sheets over and over — just put them back into the container after use. Add more vinegar and essential oils as needed to keep the jar topped off.
With Hair Conditioner
For a more scented homemade dryer sheet, this recipe relies on your favorite hair conditioner.
1. Combine 3 parts hair conditioner with 1 part white vinegar in a jar and shake well.
2. Cut up an old sheet or t-shirt into 4×4-inch squares and stuff them in the jar, then shake again.
3. Remove the squares from the jar, wring them out, and let them air dry. Store the dried squares in a clean, empty jar or another kind of container.
4. 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.
If you’re trying to avoid irritants, you’ll want to use an organic conditioner that’s free of parabens, sulfates, dimethicone, synthetic fragrances, and artificial preservatives. I’ve had great luck using Dr. Bronner’s Conditioner and Styling Cream, which smells amazing, too.
With Fabric Softener
If your ultimate purpose in making your own dryer sheets is to save money, you’ll love this method which relies on fabric softener. Look for inexpensive bottles of the stuff at the dollar store or savings club — one bottle will last several months using this DIY dryer sheet recipe.
1. Cut 6×6″ squares from an old towel or use old washcloths for this method.
2. 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.
3. Remove the 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.
4. To use, just toss a cloth into the dryer with your clothes, and it’ll work just as well as a dryer sheet. You can re-use the same cloth for several loads. To make more, run your used homemade dryer sheets through the laundry using hot water to wash and rinse, then repeat the instructions above.