I’m not sure how you feel, but I don’t understand how reliant we are on dryer sheets. I don’t actually think they make your clothes smell any better and we know there are better alternatives to get the static out of clothes without them. So, what about non toxic dryer sheets? And why is it important to know more about them? The answer is easy: there are fewer toxic materials from your cleaning products going into your clothes, on your skin, and polluting the ecosystem.
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What are dryer sheets?
Dryer sheets are made from nonwoven polyester (synthetic fiber) coated with quaternary ammonium salt or a silicone oil-based fabric softener, that first solution was a mouthful, so you know it can’t be good for you. The ingredients can include up to 17 chemicals like the ones previously mentioned and additional chemicals like ethoxylated alcohols and alkali metal soaps of fatty acids. The dryer sheets typically come from a large roll of web materials that is guided through machines that will then coat, smooth, and dry the solution onto the sheets. They are then cut into their shape and packaged into cardboard boxes.
They are often thin sheets that are opaque and then put in the dryer with your clothes, the solution they are coated in is transferred to your clothes through heat and is supposed to mimic the effects of fabric softener to make your clothes soft to touch, smell good, and be free of pesky static. The chemicals in the dryer sheets have positive ions that cancel out the negative ones caused by clothing in the dryer. But shouldn’t your laundry detergent take care of making your garments smell good?
Why make the switch to non toxic dryer sheets?
There are all kinds of toxic chemicals that creep their way into our everyday items like cleaning products, soaps, and makeup. They come with a hefty environmental impact and can also cause irritation to our skin. Due to the way the heat releases the chemicals on the dryer sheets, this gets into the air in your home and outside…This has been linked to asthma and has also affected the air quality in the environment. Dryer sheets are also considered single-use plastic because most people use them for one load of laundry and then end up throwing them out.
These do not break down in the environment and the synthetic fibers remain, this is why it is essential to consider ditching conventional dryer sheets and making the switch to a non-toxic alternative to dryer sheets. So, are dryer sheets toxic? Unfortunately yes! Read on for a list of alternatives to dryer sheets!
Non Toxic dryer sheet alternatives
1. Wool Dryer Balls
These handy little things are great to improve airflow in the dryer and can also aid in absorbing moisture, they are also great for the fact that they are reusable, most wool dryer balls can get up to 1000 loads. The natural wool in the balls will help prevent static and because they are not full of chemicals, they are great for sensitive skin and are hypoallergenic.
To be transparent the dryer balls do not completely eliminate static, a few things you can do to improve this is by adding a safety pin to the dryer ball. Another great tip because I’m sure you’re not checking off every load of laundry so watch out for “shedding” from the dryer balls, this can look like pet hair. You can also watch for when the dryer balls start to look scruffed, that is when it is time to change them.
If you are noticing that you have lots of static with balls then you are drying your clothes too long. Best to take them out right away or even when they are 99% dry, this will help reduce static even further.
2. Reusable Dryer Sheets
A great resource if you’re not quite ready to switch to other alternatives for dryer sheets, due to them being reusable you can get as much life as possible out of them. These can be used for up to 500 loads and are also hypoallergenic, you can get these chemicals free which makes these non-toxic anti-static dryer sheets. I've used the ATTITUDE Static Eliminator and Softener sheets before and they did a really good job at eliminating static. You can get about 300 loads from them and they can't be recycled.
3. DIY Vinegar Dryer Sheets
Here is a recipe so you can create your own dryer sheets out of vinegar:
You can also use vinegar on its own, just add about ½ cup to your wash cycle. Vinegar contains plant chemicals (polyphenols) that have antioxidants that can help protect cells, this renders it a natural substance that has many benefits for inside the body as well as outside it, this is one of best non-toxic dryer sheets.
4. Baking Soda
Everyone has baking soda on hand so that makes this alternative an easy one! Simply add ¼ cup of baking soda to your wash cycle. Baking soda has some really great benefits when used in the wash, not only does it deodorize clothing naturally, but it helps clean, brighten, and soften clothes which means an inexpensive alternative to laundry sheets.
5. Foil Balls
It sounds crazy but hear me out, roll some foil into the size of a baseball and toss it in your laundry, it will help remove the static from your clothes, but it will not soften them. This is also a really cool hack because a majority of us have foil around the house and it is so quick to do. This is by far the most affordable dryer sheet alternative.
6. Natural Fabric Softener
I have the perfect DIY natural fabric softener recipe; you can also find my article on natural fabric softeners on The Eco Hub. You will need to mix in a bowl 1 cup of baking soda with 1 cup of water, add 6 cups of vinegar in the bowl and let it sit for 5 minutes (this will fizz so its best to cover this up). When the five minutes are up add 6 cups of warm water and stir, add 10 drops of an essential oil (whatever kind makes you happy) and there you have it!
7. Dry Line Your Clothes
There are so many amazing benefits to hang drying your clothes, the natural sunlight (if you do this outside) helps to disinfect your clothing and actually helps them last longer. When you dry your garments inside it helps to naturally humidify your home especially in that dry, cold winter. Be sure to check out the article on five ways to air dry your clothes.
Can you dry your clothes without dryer sheets?
The answer is a resounding YES! Do not be afraid to ditch the sheets and go all natural, we love an easy step!
Tips on removing static and scenting your laundry naturally
For a natural scent:
A final word on non toxic dryer sheets
Dryer sheets are not necessary, there are so many other options out there to use if you’re looking to make the switch to something more natural. Making the switch to non-toxic dryer sheets is great for the environment, but it’s also another great money saving option, there is also nothing wrong with not using dryer sheets at all.
The chemicals in dryer sheets alone are enough to turn this girl off from using them, but the environmental effects outweigh any benefit that could come from using the dryer sheets. As we know synthetic fibers contain microplastics that shed off from your clothing or simple things like dryer sheets and contaminate our waterways and animals. By reducing our use of these synthetic fibers and harsh chemicals we can protect the environment and ultimately ourselves.
Remember sharing is sharing, please feel free to share this article with anyone who is looking to make the change to non-toxic dryer sheets, or someone who might need that extra little push!