Scientific American warns that commercial dryer sheets contain toxic chemicals including some that are known carcinogens. Not only do the chemicals in dryer sheets become absorbed into the skin over time, but they are also released into the air and breathed into the respiratory system when heated in the dryer. Luckily, there are easy home remedies and DIY solutions to dumping dryer sheets without eliminating soft, fresh, static-free clothing.
1. Baking soda. Add a quarter cup of baking soda to the wash cycle to soften clothes and eliminate the need for dryer sheets, says Scientific American. Baking soda also helps remove stains, according to news.com.au.
2. White vinegar. Similar to the baking soda method, adding a quarter cup vinegar during the rinse cycle can soften clothes. Scientific American says this pantry ingredient has the additional benefit of taming static, while news.com.au advocates it for preventing fading.
3. Tennis balls. You may be surprised to learn that, according to news.com.au, adding a tennis ball to your dry cycle can fluff towels and other bulky items, reduce drying time, and get rid of lumps in textiles.
4. Separate synthetics. According to EcoWatch, one of the most common causes of static is drying synthetic fabrics with natural ones. To solve this dilemma, hang dry synthetics (which dry quickly, anyway) and dry cottons and other natural textiles separately. Be careful not to over-dry or to allow dry clothes to continue tumbling in high heat, as this generates static.
5. Essential oil towel sheets. Cut a towel or washcloth into square sections and sprinkle 3- 5 drops of an essential oil of your choice onto the cloth. The Homemade Experiment recommends pine or lavender for a light, fresh scent. Use the DIY towel sheets as you would commercial dryer sheets. Just throw them in during the dry cycle!
6. Vinegar dryer wipes. Mix 1 cup vinegar with at least 25 drops of your favorite essential oil, such as geranium, citrus, lavender, or mint. Next, fill a jar with folded cloth baby wipes. Moisten the cloths with the vinegar solution and seal the jar. Whenever you do a load of laundry, Wellness Mama says to simply take one moistened cloth out of the jar and toss it in the dryer cycle to freshen laundry.
7. Fabric softener spray. Mix 2 cups white vinegar with 3 teaspoons eucalyptus essential oil in a spray bottle. Shake and spray 10- 15 squirts into the dryer with wet clothes. Crunch Betty says your clothes will not have a single trace of vinegar, but will be soft in scent and touch.
8. Wool dryer balls. To remove static and soften clothes, you will need 2- 3 skeins of 100% wool yarn, a paint key or large-eye felting needle, and pantyhose. Mommy Potamus says to begin by wrapping the yarn around two fingers 10- 15 times. Remove your fingers and pinch the yarn, then wrap around the center 10- 15 times. Continue switching directions until you've reached the approximate size of a tennis ball. Next, use the paint key to weave the loose end of yarn into the ball. Stuff the dryer ball into pantyhose and tie a secure knot at the end. Before using them with laundry, wash them on hot two or three times with a load of towels. They will then be ready to use in the dryer as an upgrade to dryer sheets.
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