Natural and sustainable alternatives to dryer sheets for soft, fresh, and static-free laundry


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Switch to these natural and sustainable alternatives to dryer sheets and ditch the disposables (and their chemicals)! 

If you have a tumble dryer in your home and use it to dry your clothes after laundering them, you probably regularly buy dryer sheets

However, did you know that dryer sheets are incredibly wasteful and loaded with toxic chemicals? 

But don’t worry, in this article, you’ll find tons of natural and sustainable alternatives to dryer sheets.

There is something for everyone! 

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What is the purpose of a dryer sheet?

Drying clothing in a tumble dryer can create a build-up of static electricity.

That’s why we may sometimes experience a little “electric shock” when taking our clothes out of the dryer. 

Dryer sheets are an efficient solution to this problem, as they are designed to reduce excess static in most fabrics. 

They also contain ingredients and chemicals that help soften garments and add a nice smell to your clothes.  

Are dryer sheets necessary? What happens if you don’t use dryer sheets?

Dryer sheets are not absolutely essential, because you can definitely dry your clothes in the tumble dryer without them.

However, they can come in handy if you want to reduce static cling, soften your clothes, and add a pleasant smell to them. 

That being said, if these minor issues don’t bother you, there is no point in using them.

Not only that, but you should consider ditching them altogether for your health and that of the planet.

Read the next two sections to learn more! 

Instead, choose one of these natural and sustainable dryer sheet alternatives. 

In this article, you'll find 10 natural and sustainable alternatives to dryer sheets!

Are dryer sheets toxic? Why we need natural alternatives to dryer sheets

Here is the bad news for all the people who swear by them.

Most dryer sheets on the market contain tons of toxic chemicals and harmful substances that we shouldn’t be in contact with. 

Some of those ingredients are: 

  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including acetaldehyde and benzene
  • “Fragrance”, which is an umbrella term for hundreds of chemicals that can hide harmful ingredients such as phthalates and parabens 
  • Quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs), known to trigger asthma attacks 

The chemicals found in dryer sheets can cause a wide range of health issues in the long run.

Those include kidney damage, respiratory issues, migraines, and much more.

Some substances are even known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, and can adversely impact the nervous and respiratory systems. 

Read more: How to make your home healthy?

Are dryer sheets bad for the environment? Why we need sustainable alternatives to dryer sheets

The chemicals found in dryer sheets are also incredibly bad for the environment.

VOCs contribute to air pollution, and QACs, which end up in waterways, are toxic to many aquatic animals and organisms. 

Since they are single-use and disposable, dryer sheets are also very wasteful.

We only use them once and then have to throw them away.

They cannot be recycled and are not biodegradable because they are usually made of polyester.

This also means that they’re derived from petroleum, which is one of the most polluting industries in the world. 

On top of that, the coating on dryer sheets melts with heat, which creates a layer of film in the dryer.

This can reduce air circulation, making the dryer less efficient over time.

As a result, we often need to dry our clothes longer, which damages the fabrics and reduces the lifespan of our clothes.

It also wastes a lot of energy (and money). 

Read more: How to make your wardrobe more sustainable?

Is it worth using dryer sheets?

In a nutshell, dryer sheets are toxic to our health, ecosystems, and the environment as a whole.

They’re also bad for our dryers and clothes, and they’re one more thing we need to remember to use every time we do a load of laundry. 

And since we constantly need to buy more and more of them, they end up costing a lot of money in the long run. 

For all those reasons, I find that dryer sheets are not worth it! 

And when we know that there are natural and sustainable alternatives to dryer sheets, we have no excuse but to ditch them completely!

These natural and sustainable alternatives to dryer sheets will make your laundry routine non-toxic and eco-friendly.

What to use instead of dryer sheets? 10 natural & sustainable alternatives to dryer sheets

1. Reusable dryer sheets 

One of the easiest options is to swap your disposable dryer sheets for reusable ones. 

Clean beauty brand Attitude offers a static eliminator and softener.

It comes in a set of two reusable cloths that you simply need to place in the dryer with your clothes.

The cloths prevent static, reduce wrinkling, and soften fabrics without leaving any chemical residue.

They can be reused for up to 300 loads and they are free of color dyes and fragrances! 

You can get similar reusable dryer sheets from the brand PureEcoSheet.

Theirs are also chemical, perfume, and dye-free, and you can reuse them up to 500 times. 

Read more: 15 easy zero waste swaps for beginners

2. Wool dryer balls

Wool dryer balls are amazing natural and sustainable alternatives to dryer sheets!

They are very effective because they absorb moisture from your clothes, which helps mitigate static cling.

They can even reduce the drying time, which has both financial and environmental benefits. 

Wool dryer balls can usually be reused a thousand times, making them some of the most cost-efficient dryer sheet alternatives. 

Simply throw them in the dryer with your clothes and you’re good to go!

If you want, you can also add a few drops of essential oils to the balls to add a pleasant smell.  

Here are my favorite sustainable brands offering wool dryer balls: 

  1. Earth Breeze
  2. Public Goods
  3. Smart Sheep Dryer Balls
  4. Kind Laundry
  5. Blueland
  6. Coyuchi

If you’re vegan or simply don’t like wool dryer balls, there are also great reusable options made from plastic, or even better, from silicone like these

3. Lavender dryer sachets

Another great natural dryer sheet alternative is to use lavender dryer sachets.

Not only do they add a lovely, refreshing scent to your laundry, but they also reduce static cling and act as a natural fabric softener. 

They can be reused multiple times, and you can even place them in your closet’s drawers to make your clothes smell like lavender. 

A great brand selling lavender dryer sachets you might want to check out is The Good Home Co.   

They come in a pack of three and, once you’re done with them, you can place them in a hot bath for a relaxing bath experience. 

4. Aluminum foil dryer balls

If you’re looking for super affordable dryer sheet alternatives, you’ll love this one! 

You just need to crumple up a sheet of aluminum foil into a ball and throw it in the dryer with your wet clothes.

Using two or three of these balls will be even more effective. 

While they will not add a smell to your laundry or soften your clothes, these balls will help keep static electricity down thanks to the negative ions in the aluminum foil. 

The great thing about them is that they do not contain any chemicals, they’re safe for all types of fabric, and you can reuse them many times. 

5. Vinegar

Vinegar is one of the best natural ingredients we can use to clean our homes.

But did you know we can also use it as a sustainable dryer sheet alternative? 

It’s a natural fabric softener and can help reduce static in the dryer. 

So stop using your liquid fabric softener when washing your clothes.

Instead, add ½ cup of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar to the detergent dispenser. 

You can also dampen a cloth with vinegar and put it in your dryer during the drying cycle.

The moisture will eliminate static!

Plus, the vinegar will help remove any unwanted smells from your clothes and dissolve soap residue. 

Vinegar is one of the best natural and sustainable alternatives to dryer sheets.

6. Baking soda 

While baking soda will not reduce static electricity, it’s another great natural fabric softener and odor eliminator.

You can add ¼ to ½ cup of baking soda (or less if you want) to your wash cycle before adding the detergent. 

Just make sure not to use it alongside vinegar because their combination will create a chemical reaction in your machine!  

7. Ice cubes

We all love free natural and sustainable alternatives to dryer sheets, so here is one! 

Simply toss several (two to four) ice cubes in the dryer before you start the drying cycle.

With the heat, they will produce steam, which will help reduce static and wrinkles on your clothes.

Your garments will also dry smoothly and evenly. 

8. Soap nuts

Soap nuts have become very popular among people trying to live a zero-waste lifestyle in recent years. 

They are the husk of the fruit harvested from soapberry trees in India. 

Soap nuts contain saponin, which means that they help clean fabrics and are great for removing grit and grime. 

We can use them as they are, by putting several in a small cloth bag and throwing them in the washing machine with our laundry.

But we can also toss them in the dryer instead of using dryer sheets! 

They will soften your clothes and leave them smelling fresh and clean. 

In the end, make sure they are completely dry and you’ll be able to reuse them multiple times in the future.

And when they’re no longer useful, you can compost them so they help you reduce waste

9. DIY your own natural and sustainable alternatives to dryer sheets

If you like DIYing things, here is a cheap natural dryer sheet alternative you can make yourself (and it’s SUPER EASY)! 

You will just need a glass jar with a non-metallic lid (to avoid rust), an undyed cloth like a white sheet or t-shirt, white vinegar, and essential oils.

First, fill the jar with white vinegar and add several drops of the essential oil of your choice.

It could be anything from lavender to eucalyptus.  

Add a few drops of essential oil to your vinegar solution and place your fabric squares into it.

Cut your cloth into small squares, place them into the jar, and shake it to saturate them.

And that’s it! 

When you want to dry your clothes in the dryer, take one wet square and throw it in there with your laundry.

Don’t worry, the vinegar smell will completely disappear as everything dries.

Not only that, but the essential oils will leave your clothes smelling nice and fresh! 

The great thing is that you can reuse these cloth squares over and over again, and simply put them back in the solution after you’re done using them. 

Read more: All-natural DIY laundry detergent recipe

10. Ditch the dryer (or at least, use it less) 

Hang dry your clothes

This is the most natural and sustainable alternative to dryer sheets!

Ditch the dryer and choose to hang dry your clothes instead. 

You can do that on a drying rack inside, or even better, on a clothesline outside.

Hanging them outside will give your clothes a nice refreshing scent, which you’ll absolutely love! 

No matter how you hang dry your clothes, doing so will help them last a lot longer, and you’ll save a lot of energy and money.

And let’s not forget you will not need to buy dryer sheets anymore! 

Don’t overdry your laundry 

If you still want to dry your clothes in the tumble dryer, you can reduce static electricity by not overdrying your clothes. 

Ensure you are turning off the dryer and taking your clothes out as soon as they are dry.

Since synthetic fabrics tend to dry faster, you may have to remove them from the dryer before clothes from natural materials.

Or simply wash and dry your synthetics separately to make the process easier! 

Final thoughts on natural and sustainable alternatives to dryer sheets

I hope you’ve found this article about natural and sustainable alternatives to dryer sheets helpful! 

If you were not convinced that you should stop using them, you may now be ready to make the switch.

They’re bad for your health, the planet, your dryer, your clothes, and your wallet! 

And the good news is that you don’t have to give up the benefits you get from using them.

There are tons of natural and sustainable alternatives to dryer sheets, so I’m sure there is something you’ll enjoy using.

These will help reduce static cling, soften fabrics, and leave them with a lovely scent. 

If you enjoyed this article, you will find the following ones helpful:

What are your favorite dryer sheet alternatives? 

Please drop a reply in the comments! 

Don’t forget to share this blog post with your friends so they can find better options for their health and the environment as well. 

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