I will never forget the speech my husband’s prim and proper grandmother gave at our wedding. She volunteered her best wife hack: if my husband was ever to run out of clean underwear, all I need do was throw them in the dryer with a couple of dryer sheets, and he’d never know the difference!
We all laughed and wildly applauded her unexpected advice, but five years later, I still have yet to try it. Of course, that probably has to do with the fact that…
I’ve Never Actually Owned Dryer Sheets.
It’s true! One reason for that is cost. A couple of dollars here and there add up over time, and in my opinion, this purchase is an unnecessary expense.
I’ve also found the synthetic fragrances and perfumes in dryer sheets overpowering and unappealing, even back in my “toxic-living” days.
And now that I’ve gotten crunchier, I just plain know better. Using them creates extra waste, and let’s face it:
Dryer Sheets are Toxic, Yo.
Laundry and cleaning are such common tasks that we can easily overlook or feel unfazed about the products and chemicals we use. I’m not going to tell you that using commercial dryer sheets will shorten your life or give you cancer. I am ready to argue, however, that many of the ingredients in commercial fabric softeners and dryer sheets are known to be harmful and damaging to the body. And even though we aren’t eating or drinking those chemicals, they are distributed into clothing and potentially absorbed into the skin, and they are distributed into the air through dryer vents and potentially inhaled.
I know we can’t be perfect and avoid all toxins all of the time. But taking small steps in common areas like cleaning or laundry are a HUGE way to have a big impact on the safety of your environment. And be encouraged… these questionable chemicals can be easily avoided and replaced with natural, safe, effective, and cheaper ingredients! Ready?
Getting Fancy with Natural Ingredients
The main purposes of dryer sheets are to control fragrance, soften fabrics, and to remove static cling. And though I’ve never actually used them before, I am all about getting fancy on a budget, and I do know of a cheap, natural, readily-available ingredient that boasts of those same qualities: vinegar!
Using essential oils can also add natural fragrance, and even boost cleansing properties.
So, let’s get fancy clothes with all natural, upcycled, DIY dryer sheets!
DIY Natural Dryer Sheets
Ingredients + Materials:
- 20-25 drops Essential Oils (Where to find high quality essential oils)
- 1.5 cup Distilled White Vinegar (find GMO-free white vinegar here)
- 1/2 cup Distilled Water
- Old cotton t-shirts or sweat shirts cut into 5×5 in squares
- Airtight jar
- Start by cutting an old t-shirt or sweatshirt into squares. I make mine approximately 5×5 inches, but this is not a time to be a perfectionist! A little bigger or smaller is fine, as long as they can easily fold or roll into your jar.
- Pour vinegar and water into the bottom of your air-tight storage jar. Add in essential oils of choice and swirl the jar around to combine.
- Fold or roll your t-shirt squares into the jar on top of the liquid, and seal the lid. Turn the jar upside down a couple of times to incorporate. The tops of the fabrics may still appear dry, but don’t worry. The cotton will soak the liquid in evenly over a few minutes.
- Store the jar at room temperature, wringing out (if needed) and placing 2-4 sheets in each dryer cycle depending on the load size. After the dryer cycle is complete, set any used squares to the side. When you have used all of your sheets, fold the used ones back into the storage jar and make some more!
Trouble Shooting and FAQ’s:
- CAN OTHER TYPES OF FABRIC BE USED TO MAKE THESE?
Sure, you can use any cotton blend! But keep in mind that most trimmed fabrics will fray and shred a bit in a dryer cycle. Cotton knits used in sweatshirts or t-shirts roll up at the ends, but won’t really fray much on you. So if you choose another fabric, consider serging or zig-zag stitching the edges, or cut the squares with pinking shears to avoid fraying.
- WILL THESE SHEETS MAKE MY CLOTHES SMELL LIKE ESSENTIAL OILS?
Yes, faintly. I am sorry to inform you, though, that your laundry will not be as fragrant or strong-smelling as using synthetic fragrance or perfume oils would be. Natural fragrances will dissipate more throughout the dry cycle. There will be a gentle scent left behind, though! The bigger purpose of these sheets, however, is to soften and fluff clothes.
- WILL THESE SHEETS MAKE MY CLOTHES SMELL LIKE VINEGAR?
Believe it or not… no! It is similar to the vinegar rinse that I use on my hair. When the clothes (or my hair) is wet with vinegar, they smell like pickles. But once the vinegar solution dries, the scent disappears. And in fact, vinegar tames and controls other bad smells that might have been there before.
- WHICH ESSENTIAL OILS SHOULD I USE?
This is completely a matter of preference. I do recommend choosing child-safe and age appropriate oils if you have children in the home. But the main purpose of the oils in this recipe is to add a gentle fragrance. Oils like Lavender or Sweet Orange are great options that most everyone loves!
- WHAT KIND OF SHELF LIFE DO THESE DRYER SHEETS HAVE?
I don’t really know! This is because I have always used mine up long before they have had a chance to spoil. If the jar is tightly sealed and kept in a cool, dark place, you should easily get a month or more out of them. Keep in mind that there is water in this recipe (which is known for breeding bacteria over time without the presence of preservatives). Vinegar and essential oils will help keep the nasties at bay, so as long as you don’t forget about the dryer sheets for months, you shouldn’t have any problems!
- WILL I NEED TO MIX A NEW BATCH FOR EACH DRYER LOAD?
No! You should be able to fit enough vinegar solution and squares into your jar to make enough for several loads at once. And, if there is any wrung-out liquid left in your jar once the squares are used up, you can fold in a few clean squares on top of that without having to mix new solution.
- HOW MANY DRYER SHEETS SHOULD BE USED FOR EACH LOAD?
I like to use 2-4 of them, depending on how big the load is and whether it has bulky things like towels or light things like socks and underwear. This really is a matter of preference though, so feel free to experiment!
Happy DIY’ing! Check out more of my DIY tutorials here!
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