soft clothes, minus the static and the chemicals

Dryer sheets make your clothes smell good and help reduce static electricity. But in order to function that way, they're loaded with chemicals, including toluene, styrene and phenol, which can cause acute respiratory tract inflammation and irritation, according to an Anderson Laboratories study. And that's in addition to aggravating some people's skin, especially if you're sensitive to synthetic dyes and perfumes. And it's not cool when your clean clothes cause you to break out or get a rash.

There are better and more natural ways to get soft, static-free clothes! 

While line-drying clothes is always a great, eco-friendly alternative, unfortunately it's not always practical. In my house, we're only responsible for clothes and towels for two adults. And I would never get anything accomplished if we line-dried everything in the backyard. I cannot even imagine if I had children's clothes in the mix. And if it rains? Have fun starting over!

So, the alternatives I'll focus on today still allow you to use your (hopefully Energy Star-rated) dryer.

Natural Dryer Sheets

The easiest and most conventional alternative are natural dryer sheets, from popular brands such as Mrs. Meyers and Seventh Generation. Seventh Generation sheets are made with unbleached paper, plant-based ingredients and essential oils for that good smell.

Mrs. Meyers paper sheets use plant-derived softening agents and essential oils as well.

Both brands also produce a plant-based liquid fabric softener.

Personal use sharing time. I've used both brands, and I like Mrs. Meyer's sheets better. I love the Geranium scent and I find the sheets hold up better in the dryer. My clothes are perfectly soft when they come out of the dryer, and I have no reason to go back to conventional dryer sheets.

I'll also reuse the dryer sheets if they don't look to be too worn out, and sometimes I'll stick the used dryer sheets in my drawers to provide a nice little extra fragrance.

Wool Dryer Balls

I haven't yet experimented with wool dryer balls yet, but they seem to be a comparable alternative that produce a lot less waste than dryer sheets, no matter how natural.

The premise behind the dryer balls are biodegradable, chemical-free felted wool balls. Using a few of them in your dryer helps to soften clothes, and reduce wrinkles and static, while also fluffing your cloths and reducing your drying time. They absorb moisture from clothes, maintaining a more humid environment, which cuts down on static.

These suckers last through a lot of drying loads, so while your upfront costs may be a lot more than just buying a box of dryer sheets, you won't have to replace them nearly as often. In the end, they can be even more cost-effective than using dryer sheets.

Bog Berry Dryer Balls is a Philadelphia-based company that hand makes the wool balls. I'm totally an Instagram fangirl.

There are other brands you can find online, such as Woolzies or Heart Felt.


Many natural living sites recommending using vinegar as a natural fabric softener. It works well and doesn't leave behind a bad smell. (And just like that, I can rhyme!) It can go in the wash cycle to prevent static from the start.

Ehow has a recipe for making your own fabric softener with vinegar and baking soda.

Vinegar can be used in making your own dryer sheets as well. Instead of paper, you can use cotton cloths or shirt scraps.

Next week, I'll focus on greener alternatives to laundry detergent, so you'll be able to transition your whole laundry process to be more natural!


Anonymous said...

I was thinking about this topic the other day while doing laundry. I kind of feel like I'm dosing my clothes in poison... Do you have any suggestions for detergent? I've heard of people trying DIY recipes and getting mixed results.

Caitlin said...

I'll be doing a post next week on detergent, but I can tell you that I use Seventh Generation's detergent and love it! I'll do some more research on DIY detergent's for the post. :)

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