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 or 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:
- Cloth baby wipes (or old scraps of cloth)
- Essential oils of choice
- White Vinegar
- A glass jar with a wide lid or other storage container
What to do:
- Mix 1 cup of white vinegar with 25+ drops of essential oils of choice. I like Geranium, Citrus, Lavender and Mint.
- Fold the wipes or cloth scraps and place in your jar or storage container.
- Moisten but don’t saturate the cloth with the vinegar mixture (store extra in a bottle if you don’t need the entire mixture).
- 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:
- Make them: This is a great tutorial for DIY Wool Dryer Balls
- Buy them: Or, get good quality dryer balls at a great price here.
What, if anything, do you use in your dryer to reduce static and freshen clothes?
Discussion (108 Comments)
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.
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.
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?
Katie - Wellness Mama
You definitely could do that too
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.
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!
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!
Katie - Wellness Mama
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…
I heard from another site that essential oils are flammable and should never be added to the dryer. I was bummed to read that! But you say that it’s OK?
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.
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.
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!
I use my dryer as my de-wrinkler! I just take the wrinkled piece of clothing (or a few) and throw them in the dryer with a clean wet (not dripping) washcloth or handtowel and run for about 10 minutes. Wrinkles magically disappear!!!
AHHH! I can’t wait to try this! You are my hero!
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!
Elsie A. Brown
What would be an acceptable substitute for those of us who are allergic to wool?
How many times can each dryer sheet be used in the dryer?
Katie - Wellness Mama
Once, but they can go back into the vinegar mixture to be used again.
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,
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 🙂