Dryer Sheet Alternatives

Dryer sheets reduce static cling and soften our washables, but in addition to that dried-in-the breeze scent they leave on our clothes, they can also add some harmful chemicals.

Softening

Safe and snuggly softSafe and snuggly soft
These chemicals can cause allergic reactions and central nervous system disorders, wreak havoc for asthmatics and even cause kidney or liver damage. Luckily, you can achieve snuggly softness with these safe, alternative methods.
Super soft socks

Snuggles the bear wasn't aware that vinegar and baking soda are just as effective as fabric softeners and dryer sheets. Add about a half cup of baking soda to your wash cycle and a half cup distilled white vinegar to your rinse cycle, and viola--you'll have clothes as touchable as a teddy bear. No need for expensive dryer sheets or bottles and bottles of brand-name softener. You'll also have the added benefit of extra-clean, extra-white whites. Avoid adding vinegar to a load with bleach. Rubber dryer balls will also help keep your fabrics fluffy.

Scenting

Lavender

A recent study found up to 10 ingredients determined by the Environmental Protection Agency as harmful in six common air fresheners and laundry products. Benzyl acetate, a-terpineol, chloroform and camphor are just a few found in scented dryer sheets. "Greenversation," the EPA's official blog, discusses chemical sensitivity and why consumers should be aware of phony scents. If you like a little fragrance emanating from your fresh wash, make your own non-toxic reusable dryer sheets with an essential oil. A few drops on a damp microfiber cloth will do the trick. The old adage "a little goes a long way" really holds true here as the heat will activate the scent. Try lavender, eucalyptus or any other scent that suits your fancy. Your load will come out with a natural scent that's safe for you and your family to enjoy.

Reducing Static Cling

Battle cling with foil

Crumple up a piece of aluminum foil and toss it into your dryer. This is the thriftiest non-toxic option for reducing static, as you can use it over and over again. Other alternatives include wearing only natural fibers like cotton or drying synthetic fabrics separately, as they are often the culprits for cling. While static cling may be an annoyance and you may not experience any noticeable side effects from dryer sheets, using them load after load will increase your exposure over time, and that exposure may take its toll. Try these safe alternatives and save money while potentially saving yourself and your family the risk.

About the Author

Award-winning journalist Jennifer Chesak has worked as a writer and editor for more than a decade. As the managing editor for a publishing firm, she handles content for 12 consumer lifestyle publications. Chesak's specialties include food, travel, fitness, healthy living, the environment, boating and fishing. She has a Master of Science in journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.