How to Make Natural Dryer Sheets

How to make natural dryer sheets

When I was little, one of the things I looked forward to about growing up was doing my own laundry… but not for the reason you’d think. I wanted scented laundry detergent and dryer sheets. My mom smartly used an unscented natural detergent that was closer to the homemade laundry detergent I use now, but I wanted the heavily scented chemical stuff that all my friends used.

I actually did use those artificially fragranced harsh detergents in college, and eventually realized that while they smelled good, they weren’t all they were cracked up to be and they gave me a headache.

When I had kids and made the switch back to natural detergent, I missed my clothes having that “clean” smell I had become so used to. Using essential oil scented soap in my DIY recipe solved this problem somewhat, but I realized that the scent didn’t stick around after the clothes were dried.

Natural Dryer Sheets

I stopped using conventional laundry detergent and dryer sheets, but desired a solution that would leave a fresh scent on clothes naturally.

I was also frustrated with the static cling that was tough to get rid of without dryer sheets. After some experimentation I found a two-fold solution that left clothes static-free and nice smelling without the harmful artificial fragrances:

  • Homemade Natural Dryer Sheets
  • Wool Dryer Balls

DIY Dryer Sheets:

I looked for a natural dryer sheet to buy, but could never find an option with ingredients I truly felt comfortable with. Just as with deodorant, toothpaste and all-purpose cleaner, homemade was the best, cheapest and easiest option.

I mainly wanted dryer sheets for the scent, so this was a really simple DIY project.

What you need:

What to do:

  1. Mix 1 cup of white vinegar with 25+ drops of essential oils of choice. I like Geranium, Citrus, Lavender and Mint.
  2. Fold the wipes or cloth scraps and place in your jar or storage container.
  3. Moisten but don’t saturate the cloth with the vinegar mixture (store extra in a bottle if you don’t need the entire mixture).
  4. Use one wipe/cloth per dryer load to freshen laundry. The vinegar smell will evaporate during drying and the essential oil scent will remain.

Wool Dryer Balls

Wool dryer balls help remove static cling, and also shorten the time it takes to dry a load of laundry. I couldn’t believe it took me so long to try them and I won’t ever go back. The mixture of natural dryer sheets and dryer balls has been the perfect solution for me.

With wool dryer balls, you can make them at home or buy them:

What, if anything, do you use in your dryer to reduce static and freshen clothes?

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Reader Comments

  1. Could you put the essential oil/vinegar mix on the wool balls or is there a reason not to do this?

    • I wouldn’t use vinegar, but if you read the “make your own” tutorial, there are instructions for adding essential oils towards the bottom 🙂

  2. I LOVE this!!! So easy and yet a great way to get that “chemically” deliciousness that we eco-mommies all desire. Since I use my own cloth wipes for my twins, this will be an easy project to make my laundry smell Oh So Amazing.

    Thank you for the tips, I can’t wait to whip these up when I make my monthly cleaning supplies!

    Strive to thrive,
    Em

  3. How many times can each dryer sheet be used in the dryer?

  4. I stopped using dryer sheets when I found out how many chemicals they contained. I now hate the smell of them on clothes. Smells like a bunch of chemicals.
    I started using wool balls not too long ago and love them. I will try your recipe now too.
    How long do the wool balls usually work, and how do you know when to replace them?

    • According to the tutorial, the wool balls last 1000+ washes!

  5. I don’t suppose there is any natural substitute for that magical spray on dewrinkler? It’s the one thing I can’t get away from. The smell makes me cringe because I know it’s full of chemicals, but some (most) days, I just don’t have time to iron.

    • YES! I make my own wrinkle-release spray, super easy! 16 oz. distilled water, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, 1 teaspoon hair conditioner. Add all ingredients together in an old spray bottle, and shake well before each use. I use the cheapest, most natural hair conditioner I can find at the discount store that has a great smell. The vinegar smell evaporates when the garment dries. This mixture works exactly the same as the store bought version, for pennies per bottle.

      • Christi,

        I have never used a de-wrinkler so I am not familiar with how or when to apply it. Do I spray at the beginning of the drying cycle? Does it work if air-drying? Do I spray or mist the whole garment?

        I have three garments hanging in my closet that need ironing but I am procrastinating.

        Wendy

        • Wrinkle release spray basically works to “relax” the contracted (wrinkled) fibers in a garment. It works best on dry items. Hang item so it is hanging freely. I usually spray item a section at a time, depending on how large the item and how wrinkled. Spray a section until damp, then smooth and stretch fabric until wrinkles release. I use wrinkle release spray on mainly clothing, especially items that are delicate, hard to iron, or could be damaged by ironing. It also works great on t-shirts.

          • Well, it looks like I won’t be ironing those three garments after all. Thanks Christi!

      • AHHH! I can’t wait to try this! You are my hero!

  6. Hi, I’m looking forward to trying this, but wondering if I could just use the essential oils without the vinegar. What is the purpose of the vinegar? Thanks!

    • The vinegar helps soften and seems to help with static but you could leave it out. You could also just put the EOs on the dryer balls if you have them

      • I read recently that putting essential oils on dryer balls was a fire hazard, any truth to that?

        • I haven’t heard of that but will need to look into it more…

  7. Can’t wait to try this! I use vinegar in place of liquid fabric softener in the wash- makes the clothes soft and helps them smell fresh (although scent free). I have tried adding essential oil to the vinegar, but it takes a lot, and you have to line dry, to get the slightest scent. And if you’re line drying, well, you don’t really need an added scent!

    This will be a great solution for rainy days and the winter! Thanks!

  8. Do you think it would work to put the solution in a glass spray bottle and spray the sheets as you need them for each dryer load? Or is there a magic behind letting them sit in the solution for a time?

    • I actually make and sell my own lavender spray. All I do is put purified water and some lavender essential oil in a glass bottle and you can spray a small cloth 12-15 times and throw the cloth in with your laundry in the dryer. Works great to soften clothes. And very simple.

  9. I love the wool dryer balls also. They do a good job with the static and also fluff up heavier items, like comforters and winter coats. I only bought mine a few months back and wish that I had done so sooner. You can add essential oil to them. I don’t. The ones that I bought recommended that you dry the clothes, then add the essential oil to a dryer ball and THEN run the fluff cycle. Well, no thanks! I do way too much laundry to mess around with an extra step. Also, in very dry/static prone weather, you can moisten them a little to help with the static cling. I bought my wool dryer balls from amazon but there are tons of them on e-bay also.

    • I use the wool balls now, but would like something that would help with the clothes sticking together. Do you think adding the vinegar and essential oil to the wool balls, maybe be spraying it on would help? It doesn’t seem to be a static cling thing, just the material sticking together on some pieces of clothing.

      • Static cling is from overdrying. Try the manual setting for 15 minutes less than usual. I’ve also heard that you can toss wadded up balls of aluminum foil into the dryer and it will cut the static.

  10. This is a good addition to my toolbox, thank you! I also made my own wool dryer balls and permanently removed fabric softener from my shopping list. Also have made a set of dryer balls for a couple new parents and they were so much appreciated. Great for baby clothes as fabric softener will interfere with flame retardant properties.

  11. This sounds great but I’m worried about oil stains. Has anyone had that problem? Are there some fabrics this doesn’t work well with?

    • I have not tried this method. The best I can tell you is this… We use the wool dryer balls. I started putting oils on them for scent, then my husband did a few loads and used probably 3-4 times more than I had tried. And we did end up with oil stains. But it as fine if I used a small amount on a dryer ball. Based on the proportions of this recipe, I would assume you are going to be totally fine.

  12. Hi I was wondering about the E oil.
    I read my dryer manual and it says don’t put anything with oil in it because the oil build-up can start a fire.
    I would love to try this but I’m renting and a don’t need a fire because that really won’t help when I renew my lease lol.
    Is E oil not like normal oil?
    Does anyone know about this?

    • I have used dryer balls with my own E.O. on them for several years now. No problem. I have also, (against such rules: WHY throw out a perfectly good rag?? ) washed and dried material that has wiped up oil spills, both auto and food like olive oil. I think it is just like the warning on coffee, it is for legal purposes. Although, I will admit, if the oils don’t come completely out in the wash, they POSSIBLY COULD cause a fire in a dryer. Which is why I will usually : wash immediately before the oil dries, and wash several times to make sure it is all out. Washing and drying material that was soaked in oils causing fires: It has never happened to me, and I have done it for decades. You may want to try line drying outside if you are that worried about oils, but the amount of essential oils you will be using is so small, the real threat of fire will not be an issue.

  13. Is this dryer sheet recipe safe for drying cloth diapers? Do you have to be careful with what kind of essential oils to put on them? Or is the dilution rate so low it won’t matter? TIA!

    • The dilution is so low that it shouldn’t matter, but I would only use skin safe essential oils for anything that will touch baby’s skin.

    • Essential oils can be very volital as some are alcohols. I would NOT do this in the dryer, I am also in school becoming an aroma therapist. Yes it is great if someone has been lucky, but warnings are not without premise. Some people think fragrance oils can be used interchangeably, on ones skin, as in the ones made of kerosene and for use in kerosene lamps, No! EO are also not for use in candles but people are doing it. I love these blogs but more research should be done before putting oil products is encouraged for use in dryers! And no some oils should never touch a baby no matter what dilution!!!!
      Lavender augustifolia is a good one for little ones 6 mo plus though.

  14. I will try this right away.

    I tried dryer balls but they almost ruined some clothes (workout pants in particular) with white lint. I followed all instructions. Is this common problem?

    • Were they new? They are more likely to do this when they are new. Sometimes putting them in pantyhose helps.

  15. I took your advice and ordered the Smart Sheep wool balls from Mama Moon Boutique. I can’t believe I waited so long. I love them! Shortened my drying time, less wrinkles in the clothes and no static. I think I will need the homemade dryer sheets in the winter time, but for now, the balls are sufficient for static control. Thanks for the recommendation!

    • I have been using he wool balls for over a year now. I did not have much static in winter at all.

  16. I use a vinegar and essential mix as softener and bleach in the washer. I end up with a slight scent that sticks around a while. Will probably etsy some wool balls for winter but in the summer I am line drying now. Anyone have tips for line drying? This is my first real attempt at this and the towels are like sand paper and my sheets are linty. My clothes are awesome though.

    • Getting that dry, scratchy feeling on towels and such is caused by them being out in the sun for too long. That being said, I put them into the dryer with a hot, wet washcloth for about 10 minutes, and that usually takes care of it!

  17. ok- I’m kind of a doofus and have a silly question. You don’t store the cloth wipes in the vinegar/EO solution until you’re ready to use them, do you? Because then I assume it would soak up all the liquid. Do you just moisten slightly right before you wish to use them? Also, is there any chance the vinegar/EO would stain any type of clothing? IE- should I avoid using it on a particular type of fabric? Thank you! I just want to make sure I do it correctly, just getting into all this natural stuff and loving it!

    • can some of the readers respond or “Wellness Mama”? I’d like to try these…

      • I think you just put enough of the liquid on the sheets to moisten them and then leave them in a sealed jar or ziplock bag so they are ready for use. Although you could just spray them before use if that is more convenient.

      • I store mine folded up in the glass jar with the vinegar solution and wring out when I need to use.

    • I’m wondering the exact same question! Do you put the mixture directly in the glass jar with the folded cloths and just let it sit until you’re ready to use?

  18. Katie,
    Thank you for all the tips! Question for you – do you use bleach ? What kind? Or what do you use instead to keep your whites white?
    Thank you!!

  19. I’m new to essential oils, do you use the geranium, citrus, lavender, and mint together in your dryer sheets or do u just do different combos of them?

  20. Do i leave the cloths soak in this mixture until ready to use or just dip the cloth in the mixture when ready to throw it in the dryer? If you leave in the vinegar solution, how long can they stay in this mixture for?

    • I just leave in the vinegar because I use them all within a month, but you could spray as you go.

      • Since our laundry area is in the garage I’m concerned that they will mold or mildew if left in the solution during our very hot summer months. Have you had any problems with that? Does the vinegar prevent mildew from growing or will I need to find a different storage option when it’s hot?

        • I haven’t had any trouble with it, but to be safe, you could just mix the vinegar solution (it should be fine on its own) and add to the rags right before using.

  21. I did this exactly as you said, and it didn’t work at all. In fact, my clothes came out smelling like vinegar, not the oils. Not sure how it is working for you.

  22. Everyone days their dryer balls work with static. Mine don’t at all. Someone gave me mine as a baby shower gift and it’s the same brand they use. I’ve just learned to live with static. Lol

    • I just throw in a couple of tennis balls!

  23. I just tried these dryer sheets from your recipe and my sheets smell like vinegar, yuck! Any suggestions on how to fix this? I would love to get away from using bounce with all my loads of laundry but I am not ok with sheets and clothes smelling of vinegar! Should I be drying on an higher setting or putting more oils in the mixture? I have been letting the sheets sit in the mixture until l go to use them, then pulling one at a time out.

    • The smell should evaporate once the sheets are completely dry. You could also just use the dryer balls and put a few drops of essential oils on them.

  24. cant wait to try this. I use non scented everything and use organic and/or earth friendly products. I have used them for so long that my mother did my laundry the other week and I felt like me entire house just smelled and it made me sick to my stomach! Cant wait to do this! 🙂

  25. What a lovely idea! I have never thought of making my own dryer sheets!! This is definitely on my to do list.

    Anna

  26. I just made this product and tested it out in my laundry yesterday and all my clothes smell like vinegar, I couldn’t even smell the geranium oil I used. I used one cup of vinegar and 23 drops of essential oil. Did this happen to anyone else? I really wanted it to work!

    • Because heat will kill the scent of EO if u use real unadulterated ESo. You do not heat ESo!

  27. I love to read everything you teach. I get very excited to to learn new ways to clean as well as other things.
    The way to dry clothing is unbelievable to me!!! I grew up old school ways.

    I’m will be 67yrs old in Nov. Get my retirement and work a full time job.
    It’s better then gardening & watching soap operas. I hear that’s the trend. UGH!!!!!!

  28. I have been using this mixture for about a month now. Unfortunately each and every time I dry my clothes they still smell like vinegar. I even over dried a few loads hoping it would help. I started getting my EO and supplies from the same company that you do ( love them btw thank you) but it doesn’t seem to make a difference other than I can smell the EO more. If I switched to Apple Cider Vinegar do you think it would help? Maybe less vinegar and more EO? I’m in love with your blog and tell everyone I know. If they have any of the same questions I would love to help them and myself in the process. I’ve tried quite a few of your recipes and all have worked perfectly until now. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

  29. Do you have any other suggestions for reducing static? The wool dryer balls did not work for me at all. I want to be able to not have to rely on those chemical laden dryer sheets for static. I did see that some use an aluminum foil ball but I have hesitation using that since I am trying to get rid of/reduce aluminum in our family. (Like deodorants etc) Thank you so much for your time and help!

    • There are silicon dryer balls available that are supposed to reduce static as well, though I haven’t tried them…

  30. When I spotted this idea on your blog I was really excited. Softer clothes that smell good without all the chemicals? Sign me up! So I gave it a try yesterday and I’m sad to say it did not turn out how I expected. I hate the smell of vinegar and most of my clothes reeked of it when I pulled them out of the dryer. There were also a few oil spots on a Tshirt that weren’t there when I put the clothes in. I used about 30 drops of lavender EO in the vinegar. Was that too much? Was I supped to shake instead of stir to emulsify before dampening the wipes? I am guessing that a glob of eo must of transfered from the cloth to the shirt. What did I do wrong?

    • I have the same problem and have given up on the homemade dryer sheets. It isn’t worth it to have my hubby tell me his clothes smell like vinegar 🙁 Katie, if you could give some hints on why your clothes don’t smell like vinegar, I would appreciate it. I have even tried putting in double the amount of essential oil with the vinegar and still my clothes smell like vinegar. I do use the wool dryer balls and from time to time I put a few drops of essential oils on them to give my clothes a nice scent. I love the wood dryer balls and they do cut down on my drying time and like others, I have found that synthetic materials do cause a lot of static, so I just remove them from the dryer after about 15 minutes and all is well.

  31. The best way I found to avoid static is to eliminate synthetic fibres in our clothes and household linens. So, only natural fibres of cotton, wool, linen, silk, and bamboo for us and we have no static. I made the switch when menopause began and found the hot/cold sweats were greatly reduced once there was no polyester, acrylic, etc. next to my skin and all-cotton sheets and all-cotton or all-wool blankets made the nights much more restful. I do use wool dryer balls to fluff and shorten drying time that I made myself on the cheap with 100% wool yarn from area thrift stores; made 6 tennis-ball sized dryer balls for $5 two years ago and they still look and work like new.

    Thanks for all the great info you share, Katie!

  32. I had the same problem with the eo’s coming if on the laundry. I think I’m gonna try injecting my will balls (I absolutely luv them). Ordering the natural bleach next go round for my clothes too. Reading your blog gets my brain working for more ideas took try. Thanks so much.
    If this works you can get syringes at any pharmacy. I’m thinking at least an inch long needle:)

  33. Katie! You are on another level of awesome! Every time I Google search a natural/organic/home remedy, you are a top hit! Congratulations to your flourishing blog and thank you for helping me! ::Hugs:: ~Taya 🙂

  34. I hear you can ‘revive’ the wool dryer balls by throwing them in a sock and sending them through the washer and dryer. I have also wondered if you could use a sweater defuzzer on them first as they tend to pick up lint and form fuzzballs like a sweater does. Then I think they don’t do as well to reduce static.
    I have the best luck when I load the washer with detergent then carefully pour straight distilled vinegar into the softener cup of my washer. I fill about half full. Vinegar is so diluted this way that theres very little odor on clothes coming out of the washer. The wet clothes smell so clean and fresh!
    Then on the dryer balls I mix the water with essential oils. Shake bottle well and spray on the wool balls or sheets prior to throwing in the dryer.

  35. The one thing I use in the dryer that works amazingly to rid static cling is pink Himalayan salt! I tie the salt rocks in a muslin bag and secure it and I had zero static! It is amazing!

    • I think that clothes smell CLEAN when they have no scent. I think consumers have been conditioned to ‘need’ some perfume in their clothes in order for them to smell clean.

      • I agree! The best scent is the smell of fresh laundry that has been hanging outside on a sunny day!

      • if your like me… you sometimes let it sit to long… and there isthis smell called… ewwww gross moldy uggg… even rewashing it once or twice it still stinks… so having something pretty can cover it…

        Just made my first set of dryer sheets from old wash cloths… 4 of them soaked up the cup of ving – they were kinda thicker wash cloths… so i double it to have like 10 wash clothes…I love how vinegear smells… so it’ll be interesting what it smells like… as a baby girl is about to hatch… but then again… if her clothes smell like vinegar… that’ll make her smell better than what she poops out?

        • If your clothes sit on the washer too long and start to smell like mildew, just pour some vinegar in the machine and run them through a rinse cycle. Works great, I do that with some regularity. Neither that nor the vinegar on the homemade dryer sheets will make your clothes smell like vinegar. The vinegar smell evaporates in the dryer and your clothes just don’t smell like anything, good or bad. They’re just clean.

    • Thanks! I’ll definitely try that.

  36. what am i doing wrong? I can’t smell my citrus essential oil on my clothes afterward. I put the vinegar and the essential oil in, stirred it a little, then put in little baby wash clothes all in a jar with a lid like in the picture. I shook the jar around to get the wash clothes evenly through the vinegar. hmmm any suggestions?

    • Since all of us have varying degrees of smell, you may try adding a few more drops and see if you can smell it then 🙂

    • Heat will diminish the scent you never heat EO s
      Aromatherapist Certified in training.

  37. I tried buying and making my own dryer balls. Both sets eventually fell apart. I was wondering if I could just cut apart an old wool sweater to use instead? Anyone tried this?

  38. Just to clarify, you put the liquid in a container and the wet the wipes just before throwing one into the dryer? Or can I wet them all and store them wet? Thanks!

    • You can do it either way. I typically wet them just before using now.

      • Thanks! Can’t wait to try this.

  39. TO remove wrinkles, I’ve always only used a damp cloth or other clothing item (clean, not dripping wet) in the dryer and pull them out after 15-20 minutes or so. The steam created by the damp cloth is enough moisture to get the wrinkles out. I have never used any additional ingredients to “dewrinkle.” You can always just pour/mist water onto another clothing item; it doesn’t have to be a lot and you don’t want it soaking wet anyway. AND, remember to have multiple items in the dryer for best circulation. Using too few just to ‘get the one piece of clothing’ you need right then will not work well at all. The air needs to evenly circulate in order to NOT have wrinkles and the dry clothes/items will help dry any wet items more quickly.

  40. Am I the only person that has wool balls that don’t reduce static cling or dry time?!

  41. This recipe is a total failure. Did exactly what was specified (and doubled oil drops even) and it still FAILED!

  42. *I was at a family gathering and my dress was riding up from static cling. My Sister-in-Love took me to the restroom and rubbed a very small amount of lotion onto my dress and the static was instantly gone. Thanks Sis!
    *I also find that if anything synthetic or polyester makes it into the dryer that the whole load has static unless that item is removed before it is fully dry. I have no static issues when I am only drying natural fiber material. I only use natural soap and use a couple tablespoons of vinegar in my rinse. My clothes are scent free with no soap build up and very soft.
    *If you are using commercial detergent it may take a few washings to get all of the detergent out and for your clothes to start softening up without softeners.
    *Sometimes instead of ironing. I just dampen my fingers with water and rub a spot until it is slightly damp and wrinkle free. Works great on collars. I do this most often with hubbies dress shirts.
    God Bless Everyone!