Hello! Let’s talk about eco-friendly alternatives to tumble dryer sheets today.
First things first, I try hard not to use my tumble dryer when I don’t need to. I much prefer line drying my laundry. However, sometimes when the weather doesn’t play ball then needs must.
Through sheer frugality and through never being convinced that you need yet another product for your laundry, I have never used tumble dryer sheets. From what I can understand people use them to a) scent their clothes, b) soften their clothes, and c) to reduce static cling, so I kind of get why people use them.
What’s Wrong With Tumble Drier Sheets?
The thing is tumble dryer sheets aren’t quite as innocuous as they look. Those little sheets can contain volatile organic compounds like butane and acetaldehyde, which can cause respiratory irritation. They also contain quaternary ammonium compounds, some of which are linked to conditions such as asthma. Meanwhile, the term “fragrance” can hide a huge variety of chemicals that manufacturers don’t have to disclose on account of being classed as trade secrets. Yet the chemicals used can be toxic or known allergens.
As well as the potential health problems that tumble dryer sheets can cause, there’s also the environmental impact of having to bin the sheet after each use. Single-use is not the way to go.
Eco-friendly alternatives to tumble dryer sheets
Is there an eco-friendly alternative? I like to think so. If you’re looking to green your laundry, then here are some eco-friendly alternatives to tumble dryer sheets that address all of the above.
Wool Dryer Balls
I appreciate that wool dryer balls sound like the most hippy-ish thing in the world. So, in the interests of research, I bought some wool dryer balls* to give them a go. It turns out I quite like them. Scent-free, they soften your clothes as the dryer spins and help prevent static cling naturally. And if you do want to scent your clothes, simply add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to the balls before placing them in the dryer.
Quick, easy, and reusable. What’s not to love?
Apparently, the wool dryer balls also help your washing dry quicker. I have to say that I haven’t noticed a considerable decline in drying time. You can’t win them all!
I also have some knobbly dryer eggs* from Eco Egg, that apparently have been scientifically proven to reduce tumble drying time by up to 28%. I haven’t tested this claim (life’s too short!). However, some people have claimed they do significantly reduce drying time. The eggs also reduce static cling and eliminate the need for a fabric conditioner.
The eggs come with essential oil scent sticks that you insert into the middle of the egg. You can then replace this when the scent wears off. The good news is you can use them without the scent sticks if you are scent averse or don’t want the added expense of buying scent refills.
Make Your Own Fabric Softener
If you want to soften your clothes the easiest and cheapest way to do this is during the wash cycle. Here’s a quick guide on how you can make your own fabric conditioner, which softens clothes as well as helping to eliminate static cling.
Scented Fabric Scraps
If you just want to add scent to your laundry, then place a few drops of your favourite essential oil on a scrap of fabric. Then simply add them to your dryer at the start of the drying cycle. Natural fabrics work best, so try an old cotton flannel, a bit of muslin, a cotton handkerchief, or something similar.
Other tumble dryer tips
If you want to avoid static cling the best thing to do is to avoid tumble drying polyester and other synthetic fabrics, such as lycra and synthetic fleece. Natural fabrics, such as cotton, don’t tend to cling as much as polyester. Meanwhile, polyester tends to dry quite quickly when hung up to dry.
Another top tip is to avoid over-drying your clothes. Completely dry clothing spinning around in your tumble dryer encourages the formation of static. Therefore, try taking your clothes out the dryer 5 minutes before you normally would to see if that helps.
If you do have a problem with static cling that none of the above helps with, then some people swear by tin foil. Yes! Apparently, crumpling up a ball of tin foil and placing that in your tumble dryer along with your clothes may help. I have not tried this as I don’t buy tin foil, but it’s certainly something to keep in mind!
Another unusual tip for eco-friendly alternatives to tumble dryer sheets that I have seen bandied around is to add a teaspoon of hair conditioner to a scrap of fabric. You then place that in the dryer alongside your wet clothes. I haven’t tried this either, but it’s another trick to keep up your sleeves if none of the above work for you! I would use an eco-friendlier brand of hair conditioner if giving this a go.
Missed anything? Let me know in the comments below!