DIY dryer sheets are recyclable, efficient, and leave clothes smelling fresh. They are also an eco-friendly way to use up old fabric or t-shirts.
Dryer sheets give your laundry a crisp clean scent and reduce the chance of static. They can be found in many stores, but it is easy, efficient, and more sustainable to make DIY dryer sheets at home.
These sheets are inexpensive and can be made with ingredients you may already have at home, so you know exactly what’s going into your laundry. They are also recyclable, with some lasting up to 15 washes.
DIY dryer sheets are not the same as DIY laundry sheets, which are used in the washing machine and dissolve during the cycle. DIY dryer sheets are made with fabric, which can be sourced from clothes you no longer wear, rags, or disused towels (which can also be revitalized using natural laundry-stripping).
Note: If it’s possible for you, the most eco-friendly method is to dry laundry naturally.
DIY Dryer Sheets: Step-by-Step Instructions
It’s easy to make DIY dryer sheets that will leave your clothes fresh and static-free.
- Several pieces of cloth, cut into pieces, or fabric rags
- A large glass container with a sealable lid (needs to be big enough to contain the folded fabric pieces)
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 8-10 drops of essential oil
- Place the cloth pieces and/or rags into the container.
- In a bowl, mix the vinegar with the essential oil.
- Add the mixture to the container. You want the cloth pieces to be damp but not soaking.
- Seal the container until you are ready to use it.
How to use:
- When you want to use a sheet, remove one piece of cloth and ring it out gently over the jar.
- Add it to the dryer along with your laundry.
- After the cycle is complete, return the cloth to the jar for future use.
Note: Once the dryer sheets start to dry out and lose their scent, repeat the vinegar/essential oil process to revitalize them.
DIY dryer sheets aren’t the only sustainable laundry hack: you may also like making your own laundry detergent or try hand-washing your clothes. We also have some great tips for washing underwear, removing sweat from clothes, and washing white clothes to prevent discoloration.
Environmental Impact of Dryer Sheets
Store-bought dryer sheets are typically not recyclable. They are single-use products, which unfortunately means they contribute to landfills. DIY dryer sheets, on the other hand, can be used multiple times.
The production and materials used for store-bought dryer sheets are also factors. The sheets are often made of polyester, a petroleum product similar to plastic that does not biodegrade easily. Polyester never actually fully breaks down — and even when it does degrade, it leaves behind dangerous microplastics. One study suggests it can take up to 200 years for a polyester shirt to decompose.
In addition, the chemicals used in laundry sheets can also be harmful to the environment. The Environmental Working Group found many conventional dryer sheets and fabric softeners to be “hazardous to health or the environment”.
By using DIY dryers sheets instead, you can avoid contributing to landfills and will know exactly what’s going into your laundry.
Tips for Longer-Lasting Dryer Sheets
Want to make your dryer sheets even more sustainable? These tips will make them last longer:
- DIY dryer sheets will last as long as the fabric they are made from does. To avoid overuse, devise a system to rotate which sheets you use, like using different colors or cutting them into different shapes.
- Keep the dryer on a lower heat setting. This will also increase the lifespan of your dryer sheets.
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