Looking for a convenient way to combat static cling, soften fabrics and add a fresh scent to your family’s clothes? Read on to learn more about dryer sheets—particularly when and how to use them and if they may be a good fit for your laundry routine.

A person removing clothes from a dryer

What are dryer sheets for?

Dryer sheets work by reducing static, depositing scents and helping make laundry feel softer to the touch. One of the key benefits of dryer sheets is that the ingredients in them help to combat, neutralize and fight the effects of built-up static in most fabrics. A good example of excess static electricity in your laundry load is socks and sweaters sticking together after the dryer cycle ends.

What are dryer sheets made of?

Dryer sheets are composed of liquid softeners, lubricants and fragrances coated on a layer of fabric, which is often made of polyester or cellulose fibers. When included in a load of laundry, the dryer heat works to warm and release these ingredients onto your fabrics.

Should I use dryer sheets?

It depends on the load. Dryer sheets work well for most everyday items made of natural fibers, such as cotton shirts, pants and socks, but it’s best to avoid using dryer sheets on athleticwear & microfiber, towels, flame-resistant clothing and water-repellent fabric. Always check an item’s care label before tossing it in the dryer. Learn about tumble drying cycles and how to read clothing care symbols so you can be sure to select the right cleaning method for your load.

Avoid using dryer sheets on the following fabrics:

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Athleticwear & Microfiber
Avoid using dryer sheets on these materials, as the ingredients may coat the fibers, affecting the stain absorbing and moisture wicking abilities of your kids’ soccer uniform or your workout clothes.

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Towels
Although the draw of fluffy towels after a shower may seem like a household win, the softeners used in dryer sheets may cause towels to become less absorbent. If you’re still wanting to add fragrance and softening benefits to your load, be sure to only use dryer sheets in moderation to reduce the negative effects to your towels.

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Flame-Resistant Clothing
Dryer sheets can affect the self-extinguishing ability of flame-resistant clothes, like kids’ pajamas, potentially causing safety issues.

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Water-Repellent Fabric
When coated by the softeners released by dryer sheets, these fabrics may lose their ability to repel water.

Are there dryer sheet alternatives?

Before incorporating dryer sheets into your routine, it’s important to note that they can sometimes cause allergy concerns in those family members that are sensitive to fragrances or dyes. 

Dryer balls may be a good dryer sheet alternative for those with allergies, as they are most often made of natural wool and easy to find in an unscented form.

How do I use dryer sheets?

Regardless of what type you have in your home, you can use dryer sheets with both gas or electric dryers. Start by transferring your load of laundry from the washer to the dryer, then add a fresh dryer sheet to the top of the pile, before starting the dryer cycle. Some larger loads may call for two sheets, but it’s always best to reference the product packaging for specific recommendations before use.

Be mindful that laundry needs to tumble freely to dry properly, so you should always avoid overloading it for the best results. Dryer sheets can more easily get stuck in one place if laundry is crowded, potentially melting concentrated softener onto your clothes and leaving behind messy stains. When unloading, be sure to always take the used dryer sheet out of the dryer.

Cleaning tip:  Dryer maintenance is especially important when using dryer sheets, as they have the potential to leave behind an oily residue that may clog your lint filter screen, cutting down circulation and becoming a possible safety concern.

In addition to emptying your lint filter after every load, give your lint filter a more thorough washing once a month, to remove any potential residue buildup. Learn how to deep clean your lint filter as well as the rest of your dryer, inside and out.

Are there other uses for dryer sheets?

Yes, though primarily used for laundry, dryer sheets can also be utilized for various tasks. Check out the tips below for four ways to use dryer sheets outside of the laundry room.

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1. Freshen up your spaces
Tuck dryer sheets in sock drawers, shoes or gym bags as a quick and easy deodorizer.

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2. Use them for dusting
Swipe a dryer sheet along window blinds, shelves or across the dashboard of your car to collect dust and pet hair.

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3. Tackle deodorant stains
Rub a used dryer sheet against deodorant marks on your clothes to help erase those pesky white marks.

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4. Eliminate static on the go
You can also wipe a dryer sheet along the inside of a blouse to help eliminate excess static cling.

Learn more laundry care tips

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