Softer clothes, less static, and that freshly washed laundry smell we all love are what makes dryer sheets so popular—and using them couldn’t be easier. But these multi-purpose sheets can do more than make your laundry feel and smell better. There are plenty of uses for dryer sheets all around your home, outdoors, and even in your car. But before we jump into the many ways you can use dryer sheets, let’s start with what dryer sheets are for and how they work.
What Do Dryer Sheets Do?
Dryer sheets freshen, soften, and reduce static in clothes when they’re machine dried. The sheets are usually made with cellulose or polyester fibers that contain liquid softeners, lubricants, and fragrances that are activated by the heat in a clothes dryer.
Once activated, the ingredients in dryer sheets coat the fibers of fabrics with fragrance and softeners. Dryer sheets work well for common laundry items made with natural fibers like cotton and linen but can damage or compromise other fabrics.
Here are the fabrics you shouldn’t use dryer sheets with:
Synthetic fabrics typically found in activewear have specific capabilities that can be compromised when you use dryer sheets. The ingredients in the sheets can coat the synthetic fibers and reduce the moisture-wicking, stain-fighting, and other properties of the fabrics, reducing their performance and longevity.
Towels and Washcloths
Because fabric softeners are typically made with a silicone oil, the fibers in towels and washcloths can become coated with a slippery film, making them less absorbent. To keep your towels soft and absorbent, adding a half cup of distilled white vinegar to the wash will get the job done without the fabric softener.
Flame Retardant and Waterproof Fabrics
Special fabrics that repel water and resist combustion (or both!) are treated with chemicals. The ingredients in fabric softeners and dryer sheets can break down the coatings and reduce their performance.
How to Use Dryer Sheets Indoors and Out
So what do dryer sheets do other than making your laundry feel soft and smell good? There are plenty of other uses for dryer sheets, from minimizing odors in your home to repelling bugs.
Here are seven uses for dryer sheets outside the dryer:
1. Eliminate Unpleasant Odors
Putting dryer sheets in shoes, gym bags, and other smelly places is an easy way to get rid of unwanted odors. In the bathroom, you can roll up a dryer sheet and stick it in your toilet paper roller for a fresh burst of scent every time you use the toilet paper. For a fragrant aroma all through the house, place a dryer sheet on your return air filter and tuck some into a few vents around your home.
2. Get Rid of Dust and Hair
Anything that helps keep your home free of allergens like dust and pet hair is always a welcome addition to our cleaning arsenals. Use dry or dampened dryer sheets to wipe dust and hair off of blinds, shelves, ceiling fans, window screens, and even plants. For television and computer screens, a dry sheet will remove surface dust and decrease static electricity.
3. Stop the Static
Dryer sheets reduce static electricity in your dryer, but they can also get rid of static in other places. If you’ve ever discovered a clinging sock or a pants leg that’s crept up your leg after someone else does, you know all about the dangers of static! You can avoid “static embarrassment” by rubbing a dryer sheet on your clothing before you put them on.
4. Make Sewing and Needlepoint Easier
When you’re stitching a loose hem or working on your latest needlework masterpiece, it’s frustrating when your thread knots up and sticks together while you’re sewing. For tangle-free sewing, fold a dryer sheet in half and pull your thread through it to give the thread a silicone coating.
5. Remove Melted Messes
If you have kids, you’ve likely found pocket remnants in the washer and dryer. But when kids stuff gum, crayons, or stickers in their pockets, the items can end up melting and sticking to your dryer. These messes may look permanent, but the fabric softener and slightly abrasive texture in dryer sheets work together to remove adhesives and other sticky residues.
6. Detail Your Car
Add dryer sheets to your car cleaning kit and get ready to tackle hard-to-remove bug stains and road grime quickly and easily. Wet a dryer sheet and lightly scrub your front bumper, windshield, the backs of your side mirrors, and anywhere else you spot spattered bugs. You’ll find the ingredients in dryer sheets do an amazing job at removing bugs, dirt, and grime without harming the finish on your car. Use a dry dryer sheet to dust your door panels and dashboard and another to clean the inside of your windows and windshield. Smart, right?
7. Keep Bugs at Bay
Most dryer sheets contain linalool, a floral alcohol found in lavender, basil, coriander, and other fragrant plants—plants that naturally repel common pests. The compound is also found in certain pesticides formulated for a range of pests, from German cockroaches to mosquitos. Place dryer sheets near windows or doors to repel house flies and other insects and wipe the outside of your clothes with a dryer sheet before heading outdoors to deter mosquitos.
Who would have thought dryer sheets could do so much more than advertised! For more tricks and tips to make housekeeping easier, browse our other helpful cleaning guides. Whether you’re a DIY housekeeper or you use one of our convenient cleaning services, you can count on The Maids to help you enjoy a cleaner home more often. Want to learn more? Get your free estimate and find out what a difference The Maids can make in your home.