Natural Alternatives to Dryer Sheets

The Danger of Dryer Sheets highlights some of the risks posed by commercial fabric softener dryer sheets. Whether you are looking to decrease your environmental toxin burden, prevent premature burn out of your dryer, or maintain the functionality of your fabric, there are some good reasons to opt out of the use of fabric softener or dryer sheets. And, you can maintain the softness and decrease the static cling with some of these natural alternatives.

Elbow Grease Alternatives

Line Dry Your Laundry. This is the most economic and environmentally friendly alternative that will eliminate static cling altogether. Simply allow your clothes to air dry–outside, weather permitting, or inside on a drying rack. It will take longer and clothes may be a little stiffer than you are used to (at first). However, you can drastically reduce the amount of chemical compounds that you are exposed to and emit into the air and save money on energy costs. If you live in a climate that is conducive to line-drying, this is a win-win-win.

Metal Clothes Hanger Sweep. Static cling is caused by a build up of electrons that have been stripped and re-distributed by the friction and chemicals used in the laundering process. Instead of using a chemical fabric softener to add cations to the mix, you can pick up those electrons with a metal coat hanger. Simply bend the coat hanger to be able to fit into a pant leg, sleeve, or whatever you are working with. Swipe the inside and outside of the fabric with the hanger and voila! Static cling is gone.

Minimize Your Synthetics. Perhaps unbeknownst to you, it is the synthetic materials that cause the most static cling. You can reduce the static factor quite a bit by just being selective when you shop, opting for natural fibered materials instead. (If you love synthetics or already have a lot of them, you can wash them separately and be diligent about shaking them out before and after you wash them.)

Shake it out. Give all your fabrics a little shake to release some of the negative ions that create static cling. Do this before and after you put clothes in the dryer.


No Effort Alternatives

If it is fragrance you are going for, or just don’t have the time or interest to change how you do your laundry, then these alternatives might be a little easier to implement. Because static is caused by the build up of negative ions, you either need to add cations or remove the anions. To do so, try these:

Add ½ cup of white vinegar to the washing rinse cycle. You don’t have to time it–just put the vinegar in the liquid softener dispenser or put it in a Downy dryer ball. You can add 10-30 drops of an essential oil of your choice, if you wish to add a scent to your laundry. The vinegar changes the pH of the fabric and helps to soften the fabric and reduce static cling.

Put an aluminum foil ball in your dryer. The aluminum foil will pick up the anions from the clothing in the dryer, so the fabric comes out static-free. You can use the same aluminum foil for several loads.

Dryer Balls. If you are going for all natural, wool balls are the preferred material and allow for the addition of essential oils for fragrant laundry. However, knobby plastic balls are also available and offer similar benefit. The dryer balls keep fabrics from clumping, decreasing drying time and static cling.

Before you buy another jug of fabric softener or toss in another dryer sheet, consider the alternatives. You can save money, the environment, maybe even an actual headache, by choosing a natural alternative. Give it a try. Let us know what worked for you.

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