When you are searching for natural laundry products, one of the most difficult products to replace is the standard dryer sheet. The benefits of dryer sheets for reducing static cling is invaluable. But if you look at the ingredients of your average fabric softener sheet, you start to wonder if there are natural products or methods that could do the same job, while keeping your laundry chemical-free.
Here are eight natural ways to avoid dryer sheets.
Natural Alternative #1 - Air dry your laundry. Static cling is caused by the combination of heat and friction. Fabrics (particularly synthetic material) tumbling around in a dryer with hot air blowing on them are in the perfect situation to create static cling. One quick way to prevent static is to hang your clothes to dry.
You can put them on a line outdoors, but you can also find an open location in your home where your clothes can dry naturally. This is a great option because not only does it prevent the need for chemicals, but it also can save a lot on electric or gas bills.
Feel free to experiment with hanging options for your laundry. Whether using a clothesline or a wire rack you’ll find there are many ways to utilize the air to get your clothes dry and keep them static-free.
Natural Alternative #2 - Separate your synthetics. If you don’t like the idea of hanging all your clothes to dry, you might consider simply removing the most common culprit of static cling - your laundry made with synthetic materials. Materials such as polyester or nylons are synthetic and have a tendency to cause dryer static. By hanging those items to dry, all of your remaining clothes should have less static.
Natural Alternative #3 - Reduce the heat used during drying. Heat causes static by over-drying your laundry. You don’t get static early in a drying cycle while laundry is still damp. Little to no moisture combined with tumbling will cause static. While you don’t want to pull the laundry out while it's still damp (because that can cause musty odors), you also don’t want to over dry. Avoid extended tumble settings on your dryer, use only the amount of heat that the laundry requires to get dry, and check the laundry to see if it’s dry before the timed dryer settings are finished. Keep in mind a small load or a light load doesn’t require as much drying time as the average dryer settings will give them.
Natural Alternative #4 - Add vinegar to the wash cycle. Vinegar is a natural fabric softener and can be added to the last rinse of the wash. It also does double duty by reducing static cling. Add ¼ cup to a ½ cup to your rinse cycle. And don't worry, the smell of vinegar will disappear once the laundry is dry.
Natural Alternative #5 - Use wool dryer balls. You have probably seen wool dryer balls around, but don't know how they work. Adding more fabric to your dryer may seem counter-intuitive, but wool actually draws moisture to it, trapping the moisture in the wool ball. It then provides a bit of extra moisture to prevent static cling, without your laundry retaining the moisture. It also fluffs your laundry!
Natural Alternative #6 - Make your own dryer sheets. Making your own dryer sheets can not only save you money, but it can also give you an advantage if you are suffering from skin problems like eczema because it gives you control over the ingredients that your laundry is exposed to. Remember what is in your dryer sheets will stay on your laundry, as it dries into the fabric. Soak a washcloth or any material in vinegar and put it your dryer with your clean laundry. The vinegar smell will disappear, and your clothes will stay soft and chemical-free.
Natural Alternative #7 - Use aluminum foil balls. Aluminum foil doesn’t contain chemicals or fragrances and is a safe alternative to dryer sheets. Plus, it is something that many people already have in their kitchen. Just tear off a sheet, make a ball, and toss it in with your wet clothes. You can use one ball until it is no longer effective before replacing it.
Natural Alternative #8 - Use soap nuts. One natural product that many people are not aware of is Soap Nuts. These natural berries are often used by boiling them down for liquid laundry soap, but they also reduce static cling in their natural form. To use, put a few of them in the dryer in a small bag.
On our farm, we use vinegar, line dry (sometimes), and use less heat. That combination works great for us and we haven't used dryer sheets in over a decade! We've never tried wool dryer balls, aluminum foil balls, or soap nuts, but have heard good things about them. Let us know what works for you!