Non-Toxic Dryer Sheet Alternatives – Keep Your Clothes Chemical Free

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If you’ve been paying attention to recent warnings about the chemicals found in commercial laundry products, then you know it’s time to ditch your dryer sheets. But that doesn’t mean you have to go without cuddly-soft, great-smelling clothing.

In this article, we’ve got the best non-toxic dryer sheet alternatives. Whether you’re looking for super soft fabrics, static reduction, great scents, or something that can do it all, you’ll find it on this list.

man putting a dryer sheet in the washing machine

What Do Dryer Sheets Do?

Despite being one of the less necessary pieces of the laundry puzzle, laundry sheets do actually perform a number of important tasks.

For one, they help reduce static to keep your clothes from getting stuck together and, worse, attracting hair and lint.

Static is created during the tumbling process as atoms on the surface of clothing exchange electrons, creating positive and negative ions. These opposite charges attract, leading to material sticking together.

Dryer sheets are coated with positively charged fabric softeners. As they tumble around with your clothing, these charged chemicals are deposited on your laundry, satisfying the pull of the negative ions and stopping static cling in its tracks.

This fabric softener coating also helps make your clothes feel softer. The positive charge these chemicals impart on your clothes causes the fibers of the fabric to stand up. Much like a puffy dog that’s been freshly blow-dried, this gives the material a softer, fluffier feel.

Laundry sheets are also coated with fragrance chemicals that get transferred to your clothing during the tumble cycle. These chemicals make your clothes smell good, often for days or weeks after they’ve been washed.

Why You Should Ditch Dryer Sheets

Clearly, laundry sheets provide some great services to your fabrics. So, why are so many people in the know telling you to get rid of these essentials? The answer lies in those static-stopping, fabric-softening, great-smelling chemicals.

They Contain Toxic Ingredients

a bottle of chloroform

Dryer sheets, which are coated with fabric softeners, have many of the same toxic ingredients in them as liquid fabric softeners and laundry detergent. The most troublesome in this category include:

  • Chloroform: Best known for its ability to knock people unconscious, this solvent also adds a pleasant odor to laundry sheets. Even in small doses, it is a known neurotoxin and carcinogen.
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (Quats): This softening chemical may be one of the most terrifying found in fabric softeners (and many other household products). Not only is it known to cause allergic skin reactions at even the most minute doses, but recent research has shown that it can disrupt key cellular pathways. This research was pursued after the use of quats to disinfect lab mice cages at Virginia Tech led to the development of neural tube defects in 10% of mouse embryos.
  • Benzyl Acetate: This fragrance additive is known to irritate the eyes and skin. It is also a neurotoxin that can affect the central nervous system.
  • Benzyl Alcohol: A polarized, sweet-smelling solvent, this ingredient does triple duty for laundry sheets. It is also known to cause skin rashes and itching and is used medically to kill head lice.
  • Fragrance: This catch-all ingredient is used to hide hundreds of different chemical compounds with known negative health effects. The Environmental Working Group ranks this as one of the worst ingredient groups found in laundry products and cautions that these chemicals are highly likely to cause skin and asthmatic reactions in sensitive individuals, and may cause reproductive harm.

Beyond the ingredients inside these products, they also have a high potential for releasing volatile organic compounds into the air. In fact, many of the scent compounds that give your clothing such a nice smell are actually dangerous to inhale.

The Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health study has identified multiple VOCs released from dryer vents during dryer sheet use as carcinogenic chemicals. And the EPA classifies seven more chemicals found during this study as hazardous air pollutants.

They Damage Your Fabrics and Dryer

As if covering your clothes with cancer-causing chemicals and poisoning the air in your house wasn’t enough, commercial laundry sheets also have the potential to damage your fabrics and dryer.

As the solid fabric softeners heat up during the cycle, quats and plastics begin to melt, depositing a film on your dryer and clothing. Over time, this film reduces the effectiveness of your machine, requiring longer dry times.

Not only does this lead to higher energy use, but the extended exposure to high heat and chemicals results in fabric degradation that causes clothing to fray and thin faster than normal.

The Best Dryer Sheet Alternatives

Just as we found you the best laundry detergent alternatives, we’ve also rounded up the best non-toxic dryer sheet alternatives out there. Some of these alternatives are simple DIY concoctions that you can easily throw together at home. Others are some of our favorite natural and non-toxic products from the web.

Whether you want to soften clothes naturally, add scent naturally, reduce laundry static—or do all three with a single product—we’ve got your solutions right here.

The Best Alternative that Does It All

Truly Free Dryer Angel

Truly Free Dryer Angel

Want your clothes to smell amazing without chemicals or any of the work? The Truly Free Dryer Angel gives you just that. This simple little product uses all-natural essential oils to deliver a fresh, lasting scent to your clothing for thirty straight loads.

The fragrance sachet, which has a bright, citrusy-floral scent, is made to be used with the included “angel” bag. This unique bag is hand sewn by women in Jamaica working to escape poverty and trafficking through a charity associated with the company.

To get great scent and softer, less-staticky clothing, use the Dryer Angel alongside Truly Free’s all-natural, non-toxic softening rinse.

To learn more about the awesome laundry products Truly Free has to offer, click here.

The Best Alternatives to Soften Clothes

Molly’s Suds All Natural Fabric Softener Dryer Sheets

Molly's Suds All Natural Fabric Softener Dryer Sheets

If the main reason you use dryer sheets is to keep your clothes soft, then you are going to love Molly’s Suds fabric softener sheets.

These natural alternatives use plant-derived fabric softeners and fatty acids that are gentler on your skin, safer for your family, and better for the environment. Glycerides, naturally derived palm carboxyethyl, and fatty acids make up the entire ingredient list. Each of these products helps soften clothes by coating the fabrics and polarizing the surfaces so the fibers stand up.

Molly’s Suds dryer sheets also do a good job reducing static electricity in the wash and come in scented options that will make your clothes smell great. These options contain only natural fragrances derived from essential oils.

Better Life Natural Dryer Sheets

Better Life Natural Dryer Sheets

Like Molly’s Suds, these all-natural dryer sheets from Better Life use plant-derived ingredients to encourage the fibers of clothing, sheets, and other fabrics to stand up for a softer, more comfortable feel. They also do a great job stopping static so your clothes can dry faster with less heat.

These unscented sheets use a base of unbleached paper that’s covered in a naturally derived quat and a plant-based emulsifier. These two simple ingredients are all it takes to transform stiff, scratchy clothing into a fluffy cloud you’ll never want to take off.

DIY Softening Options

If you want to skip the chemicals altogether, there are plenty of DIY fabric softeners that you likely already have in your home. Most of these work by targeting the hard water in your wash cycle that causes fabrics to become scratchy and stiff. By neutralizing minerals in the water, these simple products leave your clothing feeling softer naturally.

  • Baking Soda: This household staple helps suspend hard water minerals in the water so they can be flushed away during the rinse cycle rather than being deposited on your laundry. Add about ½ cup of baking soda to each load of wash to see the best results.
  • Salt: If you’re out of baking soda, salt can work just as well by suspending minerals to keep them from redepositing on fabrics. Add ⅓ cup table salt to each washer load.
  • Vinegar: This acidic liquid works quickly to dissolve minerals in hard water so they don’t have a chance to build up on your fabrics. Add ½ cup distilled white vinegar to the fabric softener slot in your washer each time you do a load.

The Best Alternatives to Add Scent

Truly Free Scented Laundry Wash

Truly Free Scented Laundry Wash

The only reason to add fragrance to clothes in the dryer is if your laundry detergent isn’t powerful enough to leave a long-lasting scent behind. For many people who’ve made the switch to a non-toxic detergent, this tends to be the case. But not for those who use Truly Free’s Scented Laundry Wash.

This awesome laundry soap is made with only the safest natural ingredients. A short list of minerals and sodas come together to get clothes remarkably clean. But what really makes this product stand out is the lasting scent.

Truly Free’s signature scent is made up entirely of pure essential oils—there are no hidden phthalates here! With a citrusy, spicy floral scent, this product will leave your clothes smelling fresh even after they’ve gone through the dryer.

DIY Scenting Options

If you like your detergent and would rather focus your scenting efforts on simple fragrance solutions, then here are some great options you can throw together at home.

  • Add essential oils to your cycle: A few drops of essential oils on a laundry ball, rag, or reusable dryer sheet is all it takes to make your laundry smell amazing. You can use any scent (or scents) you like. Our favorites are lavender, vanilla, ylang-ylang, orange, and clove.
  • Create a dried flower sachet: Pick strong-smelling flowers from your garden, dry them on a screen or drying rack, then toss them in a small muslin bag. The heat from the dryer will pull the oils from the petals and spread them to your clothing with each cycle. Flowers with a lot of scent, such as lavender, rose, and mint, will last for multiple loads before needing to be refreshed.
  • Mix kosher table salt and essential oil: Salt has the amazing ability to soak up essential oils. Mixing some coarse table salt with your favorite scent and adding this concoction to your washer will give clothes a strong, lasting smell while softening your fabrics at the same time. Mix two cups of kosher table salt with 30 drops of your favorite essential oil. Add 3 tablespoons to each load of wash.

The Best Alternatives to Reduce Laundry Static

Purecosheet Reusable Dryer Sheets

Purecosheet Reusable Dryer Sheets

If you’re looking for a static reducing option that also helps soften fabrics and is 100% chemical-free, then Purecosheet dryer sheets are what you need.

These cloth sheets don’t contain any added ingredients. And they can be used again and again to save you money while reducing waste to help the planet.

The key is in the special weave of the cloth, which is made up of polyester, nylon, and conductive fibers that attract static like an antenna. Charged electrons travel to the cloth where they are returned to a balanced state without the need for depositing chemicals on your clothing.

Ecoigy Wool Dryer Balls Organic

Ecoigy Wool Dryer Balls Organic

Another great natural option for decreasing static in your dryer to hasten drying times is a dryer ball. These 100% organic wool balls from Ecoigy are our favorites.

These balls are made of packed, balled wool yarn that is naturally bouncy and static attacking. In the dryer, they move between articles of clothing to separate them and collect and neutralize that static charge. When used in groups of three or four, they have the power to reduce your drying time by 25%!

For those that want your clothes to come out of the dryer static-free and smelling great, simply add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the balls before starting the cycle.

DIY Static Reduction Options

If you don’t have time to pick up one of the great products above, there are some easy steps you can take to reduce static in the dryer.

  • Add ½ cup distilled white vinegar: In addition to softening fabrics, vinegar can also reduce static in the dryer. It works by making the wet clothes less stiff, which means they produce less friction as they move past one another in the dryer. Simply add ½ cup distilled white vinegar to the fabric softener slot in your washer.
  • Line dry: This isn’t the least labor-intensive option, but it is one of the surest ways to avoid static in the dryer. Plus, it doesn’t cost a thing and is by far the best option for the planet.

Soft, Great-Smelling Laundry without the Chemicals

There are so many simple ways to soften your laundry, reduce static, and leave your clothes smelling great without resorting to toxic, chemical-laden dryer sheets.

Our favorite option for ditching health-compromising laundry products in favor of something safe and earth friendly is Truly Free.

With their Laundry Angel, you can keep your clothes smelling wonderful load after load using quality essential oil fragrances. To take your green laundry game to the next level, try adding to the mix their Reusable Laundry Wash and Softening Rinse. You can find these and other great Truly Free home products here.

If you don’t want to spend the money, don’t fret. You can easily replace dryer sheets in your routine by utilizing household staples like vinegar and baking soda, investing in reusable products like dryer balls and fabric dryer sheets, and adding your own essential oil scents to the load.

Do you have any questions relating to this article? Email us at [email protected] or call us on +1 (310) 961-4908

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Sara Seitz is a freelance writer and novelist. She lives with her husband and wildling toddler in Colorado where she spends her days working on their house, gardening, and reconnecting with nature.

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