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How to Soften Clothes Without Dryer Sheets

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How to Soften Clothes Without Dryer Sheets

You might not know it, but your home is filled with potentially toxic items, and dryer sheets are one of the worst offenders. If you’re ready to ditch those dangerous dryer sheets, discover how you can easily soften clothes without dryer sheets.

Are Dryer Sheets Toxic?

The companies that make dryer sheets have done a really good job of disguising just how toxic this product actually is.

They smell good, and they have pictures of fluffy clouds and cuddly teddy bears on them. So they can’t be that bad, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) gives both Bounce dryer sheets and Snuggle dryer sheets an “F” grade. This is because some of the known ingredients in dryer sheets include:

  • Benzyl alcohol- An upper respiratory tract irritant.
  • Benzyl acetate- Linked to pancreatic cancer.
  • Chloroform- A neurotoxin and carcinogen.
  • Limonene- A known carcinogen.
  • Ethanol- Linked to central nervous system disorders.

Dryer sheets are also highly damaging to the environment because they can contain ingredients that are toxic to aquatic wildlife.

In fact, dryer sheets are so toxic, researchers have started warning women that they should avoid touching dryer sheets while they’re pregnant since exposure to two common phthalate chemicals in dryer sheets have been linked to lower IQ scores among school-age children.

(As a side note, these same chemicals are also released when you microwave food in plastic, which is why you should try to reduce your plastic use around the home.)

And if you think switching to liquid fabric softener is the better option, think again. This product contains many of the same chemicals known to be toxic to humans after sustained exposure.

So now you’re ready to ditch those dryer sheets. But does that mean you have to walk around in scratchy clothes? Not at all!

It’s actually very easy to naturally soften clothes without dryer sheets when you understand the three main reasons why clothes get stiff in the first place.

Plus, if you feel like you need fabric softener, you can make the switch to one of these eco-friendly fabric softeners and enjoy fluffy soft clothes using natural ingredients.

Why Clothes Get Stiff in the Laundry

There are three basic reasons why clothes get stiff after you wash them: the chemicals from laundry detergent, minerals in your water, and compression during the spin cycle.

If you can lessen these causes, you’ll find that you can completely eliminate the need for dryer sheets to soften your clothes.

These seven simple steps can help you soften clothes without dryer sheets so you can feel better knowing you’ve eliminated even more toxic chemicals from your house.

Related: Where to Find the Most Affordable Eco-Friendly Clothing

1. Use Soap Nuts

Soap nuts in front of linen bag

The chemicals in store-bought laundry detergent leave behind a residue on your clothes that make them feel stiff. One easy way to eliminate these chemicals is to wash your clothes using soap nuts instead of store-bought laundry detergent.

Soap nuts are berries that contain a natural cleaning agent called saponin. Since soap nuts don’t use chemicals that can stiffen your clothes, you don’t need to use any type of softener.

I’ve been using soap nuts for years, and I’m so happy with them. Our clothes get clean, and I don’t have to worry about any type of dangerous chemicals that can harm our health or irritate my son’s eczema-prone skin.

If you prefer using liquid detergent, you can also make your own homemade soap nut liquid laundry detergent.

Even better, these soap nuts come from one of the best zero waste online shops, which means you know you’re making a truly sustainable choice that’s better for the environment.

2. Use a Homemade Laundry Detergent

If you’re not sure about using soap nuts, consider making your own laundry detergent. This homemade laundry detergent is a great option because it uses baking soda.

Baking soda can suspend minerals in the water and prevent them redepositing on your clothes and making them feel stiff.

If you don’t want to use homemade laundry detergent but still want the natural softening power of baking soda, you can simply add a 1/2 cup during the wash cycle.

No time for DIY? That’s not a problem! Simply check out this list of the best eco-friendly laundry detergents or this collection of the top sustainable laundry detergent sheets. You’ll find plenty of options that use plant-based cleaners instead of chemicals.

3. Shake it Out

Sending your clothes through an extra spin cycle is a great way to make your laundry routine more eco-friendly because it squeezes out as much excess water as possible before drying. However, this compression can also make your clothes come out of the washing machine feeling stiff.

To help fight this stiffness, give your clothes a good shake before you toss them in the dryer or hang them up to dry. This shake instantly loosens the fibers in your clothes so they don’t feel so rigid.

I know you’ll probably feel silly standing there and shaking your clothes (I sure do) but you can immediately feel the difference in stiffness between clothes you didn’t shake and ones you did, which definitely makes it worth it.

4. Use Wool Dryer Balls

friendsheep wool dryer balls

Using wool dryer balls in the dryer offers several excellent benefits.

First, if you like to use dryer sheets to give your clothes a light scent, you can put a few drops of essential oil on each dryer ball so your clothes smell good.

I personally like to put one drop of lavender essential oil on each dryer ball every few cycles so our clothes come out with the relaxing scent of lavender. This is especially nice on the clothes we sleep in since lavender is known to help you naturally fall asleep.

Wool dryer balls are also great for speeding up drying time and getting your clothes soft.

Plus, just like giving your clothes a shake before drying them helps separate the compressed fibers and makes them feel softer, the action of dryer balls bouncing around in the dryer also loosens the fibers to soften clothes without dryer sheets.

5. Use Reusable Dryer Sheets

If you use dryer sheets to help fight static cling, switch to reusable dryer sheets instead. Reusable dryer sheets are chemical-free sheets that naturally help eliminate static and wrinkles.

Plus, unlike traditional dryer sheets, they can be reused thousands of times.

6. Use Aluminum Foil

Another option that seems crazy but can help you reduce static cling is aluminum foil.

Simply take some aluminum foil and ball it up until it’s about the size of a baseball. Make sure you push down any rough edges so they don’t catch on your clothes. Then toss the aluminum ball in the dryer to let it fight that annoying static cling.

If you have large loads, you might need two or three balls to help keep static cling at bay. If the balls ever start to fall apart, you can simply crumple them up again.

7. Add Vinegar to the Rinse Cycle

If you’re looking for a natural way to soften clothing, turn to your trusty bottle of white vinegar. There are several ways you can use vinegar to soften clothes.

First, you can pour a 1/2-cup of white vinegar into a fabric softener dispenser ball and it will automatically release during the wash cycle. This serves double duty as a fabric softener and static reducer.

If you’re simply looking for a static reducer, you can lightly spray a washcloth with white vinegar and toss it in the dryer with your wet clothes.

And don’t worry, neither option will leave your clothes with that distinct vinegar scent.

Not sure what type of vinegar to use? Then be sure to check out this helpful guide on the best vinegar for green cleaning your home.

Easily Soften Clothes Without Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets can contain all types of dangerous chemicals that you don’t want around your family. However, thanks to these simple tips, you can easily soften clothes without dryer sheets.

More Eco-Friendly Tips

Now that you see how easy it is to soften clothes without dryer sheets, are you interested in even more outstanding eco-friendly tips? Then be sure to check out some of our other popular posts:

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