Drying Sheets Suck in (Use These Alternatives Instead)

Store-bought drying wipes can give your clothes the softer look and scent aura you love, but these scent folds hide some dubious ingredients, some of which are health and efficacy concerns. Their smell has been proven to not only cause headaches and shortness of breath , but also make it difficult to dry your clothes.

In an interview with Apartment Therapy, Samara Geller, Senior Health Analyst at the Environment Working Group, noted that drying sheets contain quaternary ammonium compounds (QACS), which have been shown to cause or worsen asthma and skin irritation . Research has also shown that dryer vents emit over 25 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) , some of which have been classified as hazardous air pollutants by the EPA.

What else? Sheets don’t really make your clothes and towels softer. What they do is release a smooth layer of molten stearic (fatty) acid, which temporarily prevents static electricity and leaves behind a smooth surface layer (until it wears off). Where else is this coverage going the most? Inside the dryer, of course. Over time, residues build up , forming a sticky film that clogs the lint filter screen. Due to the lack of airflow in the filter, more lint will remain on your clothes.

If that’s not enough, the sheets also make the towels less absorbent and less fire resistant. So what can you use instead? Here are some alternatives.

Balls for drying wool

Rather than simulating softness, wool drying balls create real softness. By bouncing off the dryer balls, they separate your garment, creating a more even heat flow andshortening drying time . Their repeated contact with the fabric gently breaks off lumps and softens the fibers. A set of three to six will last a year or two. (You may want to stay away from spiked tumble dryers as they can cause jogging, sticking and pilling.)

Aluminum balls

They won’t soften clothes, but tossing a few balls of foil into the dryer can do wonders for reducing static adhesion. How? All clothes exchange electrons as they roll over the dryer, and aluminum balls protect negatively charged clothes from positively charged ones (which really want to stick together). For each ball: Use three to four square feet of aluminum foil, squeeze tightly to form a two to three inch round shape. Remove all remaining items carefully.


Ah, good old vinegar. Is there anything you can’t do? Distilled white vinegar not only brightens, whitens and removes clothing odors, but softens them too! Add 1/4 white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser or to the last rinse. If you are concerned about a strong smell, mix vinegar with a few drops of an essential oil such as lavender oil.

Baking soda

Where vinegar is available, baking soda cannot be far behind. Mix 1/2 cup baking soda with detergent and apply as normal to your wash. Baking soda acts not only as a deodorant, but also as a natural suspending agent, preventing detergents and minerals from re-depositing on clothes and making them tough. We admire two natural cleaning beacons.

DIY Drying Sheets

Did you know you can make your own fabric softening sheets? Cut old pieces of fabric (rags, old T-shirts) into squares. Place the squares in an airtight jar of vinegar – just enough to keep them damp but not soaked. Add essential oils such as lemon, lavender, orange, grapefruit, or bergamot if desired. Wring one out, when you’re ready to dry, toss in with your damp clothing and you’re done: cheap softened clothing without strong chemical odors.

Ready to switch but don’t want to waste your already purchased drying sheets? Check out these new alternative ways to use them .


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