Are Dryer Sheets Necessary? (What To Use Instead)

Dryer sheets are a laundry staple for many people. My mother used them and taught me to use them when I was just a child, so when I got my own apartment, I continued using them without a second thought. Over time, though, I’ve wondered how essential dryer sheets are.

In this article, we’ll discuss the purpose of dryer sheets, what they’re made of, and a few sustainable alternatives. We’ll also cover some of the pros and cons of using dryer sheets and what happens if you don’t use them or any other alternatives so you can decide for yourself if you need to use dryer sheets in your laundry.

are dryer sheets necessary

What Is The Purpose of Dryer Sheets?

Running a dryer causes friction that leads to static electricity and makes your clothes clump together. The purpose of dryer sheets is to keep the static from building up and keep your clothes from sticking together.

Do You Have To Use Dryer Sheets?

Although dryer sheets are helpful, they’re not necessary. In fact, some people avoid using them because they contain toxic chemicals that can irritate your skin and make you sick.

If you like dryer sheets but not the chemicals inside them, you could choose an alternative or forgo them altogether.

4 Alternatives To Use Instead of Dryer Sheets

If you enjoy the fresh scent of dryer sheets and the way they remove static cling but are not so interested in the chemicals they’re made from, here are a few alternatives.

wool dryer ball

1. Wool Dryer Ball

Wool dryer balls are small balls of yarn that remove static from your laundry. They are an eco-friendly alternative to commercial dryer sheets and are easier on people with allergies because they don’t have harsh chemicals or fragrances.

It takes about three wool dryer balls to remove the static from a regular load of laundry. To use wool dryer balls, just spray them with water and toss them into your dryer with your clean laundry.

If you want to give your laundry a boost of freshness without adding chemicals, you can put 2-3 drops of essential oils on the balls before you put them in the dryer.

If cared for properly, wool dryer balls can last for years without replacing them.

2. Vinegar

You can also use vinegar to reduce electricity in the dry. Simply spray a clean washcloth with white vinegar and toss it into the dryer with the rest of your laundry to keep the air inside damp.

Since it has a strong odor, vinegar may not seem like a good option for the laundry. Rest assured, however, that the smell will dissipate before you take the laundry out of the dryer.

3. Baking Soda

When you wash your clothes, add ¼ to ½ cup of baking soda to the laundry detergent before starting the wash cycle to help keep static at bay.

This is probably the easiest static reduction option because you don’t need to do anything else when you switch your laundry to the dryer.

4. Aluminum Foil

It seems hard to believe, but you can use aluminum foil to reduce static in your dryer. Just make three balls of foil that are 2 to 3 inches thick.

The foil works by exchanging electrons to negate the build-up of static charge.

Pros And Cons Of Using Dryer Sheets

If you’re trying to decide whether or not you should use dryer sheets in your laundry, it might help to look at a list of pros and cons.

pros and cons of dryer sheets

Pros

  • They reduce static: Static reduction in the dryer helps keep clothes from sticking together and keeps dryer lint from sticking to them. 
  • They soften your laundry: Dryer sheets contain fabric softener, which keeps your clothes from feeling stiff and scratchy.
  • They remove wrinkles: Since there’s not as much static in the dryer when you use dryer sheets, you’ll easily be able to shake the wrinkles out of your clothes.
  • They make your laundry smell nice: The scented fabric softener in dryer sheets will impart a nice, fresh aroma to your laundry.

Now that you know some of the benefits of using dryer sheets in your laundry, let’s take a look at some disadvantages of using them.

Cons

  • They contain chemicals: These chemicals are harmful to the environment and can cause adverse health effects like asthma attacks or allergic reactions.
  • They can reduce the absorbency of your fabrics: Since dryer sheets contain fabric softeners, they can have the same effect of depleting the absorbency of your fabrics as traditional fabric softeners and can keep your clothes from getting completely clean.
  • They can irritate your skin: The chemicals in dryer sheets can cause skin irritation, especially in people with sensitive skin.
  • They’re expensive: One box of dryer sheets isn’t all that expensive upfront, but since you will have to purchase them repeatedly, the cost can add up.

What’s The Difference Between Dryer Balls And Sheets?

Dryer sheets are sheets of polyester fiber that are coated in fabric softeners. They reduce static and wrinkles in your laundry and impart a fresh scent.

Unfortunately, all those benefits come with added chemicals and a single-use product that ends up in the landfill.

On the other hand, dryer balls reduce static in your laundry and reduce drying time by creating space and improving the airflow between your clothes.

You can get wool or plastic dryer balls and choose your own scent. Most people who use dryer balls use essential oils for fragrance to eliminate any harsh chemicals in commercial fragrance products.

Instead of being a single-use product, you can reuse dryer balls for around 1,000 loads of laundry- or more if you take good care of them. 

What Happens If You Don’t Use Dryer Sheets?

As stated above, using dryer sheets and their alternatives isn’t necessary to do your laundry.

However, if you choose not to use them, your clothes will be stiffer and more wrinkled when they come out of the dryer. You’ll also need to pull them apart before folding them because static cling will make them clump together.

On the other hand, you’ll also get rid of the lingering fragrance and other chemicals in your clothing, which can be crucial to those with allergies or sensitive skin.

Conclusion

Many people use dryer sheets in their laundry because it’s what they were taught. We also see them advertised on television and in the stores, so we get the feeling that they’re an integral part of the laundry process.

I never questioned using dryer sheets until I heard how many chemicals are in them and thought about how many boxes I go through each year. If you’re in that same situation, you may be wondering if dryer sheets are necessary.

Fortunately, the answer is no. While they have some benefits, like softer clothes, reduced static, and reduced wrinkles, you won’t harm your clothing by not using them.

If you enjoy the fresh scent that dryer sheets leave behind, but you’re not so happy about the chemicals they use to do it, you may want to consider using wool dryer balls as an alternative.

They last for 1,000 loads or more, and you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for a custom fragrance that’s chemical free.

Shauna Stone