Are Dryer Sheets Necessary?

Since Conrad Geiser invented the dryer sheets in 1969, there has been a never-ending debate on whether they are necessary.

Their sales continue to soar despite the differences, so are they necessary?

Dryer sheets are necessary for certain types of garments. The sheets work well for loads made of natural fibers such as cotton.

Avoid using the sheets on water-repellant garments such as athletic wear.

The best way to learn which loads you can use the sheets on is to read the care symbols on clothes. 

The Dryer sheets are meant to reduce static in clothes and make them soft. These fiber sheets are laced with different chemicals and scents, aiding their functionality.

This article explains when to use dryer sheets and when to desist.

What Are Dryer Sheets and What Do They Do?

What are dryer sheets and what do they do?

Chances are, you’ve probably used dryer sheets at some point. But what are they and what do they do? 

Dryer sheets are thin, coated sheets of fabric that are added to a load of laundry in the dryer. 

They help to reduce static cling, soften clothes, and add a pleasant scent.

Most dryer sheets are made from synthetic materials, although there are eco-friendly options made from natural fibers are also available. 

The fabric is coated with a variety of chemicals, including essential oils and stearic acid.

When the dryer sheet comes into contact with clothes, these chemicals are transferred to the fabric. 

This helps to reduce static cling and makes clothes feel softer. The essential oils also help to freshen laundry and leave a pleasant scent behind.

Why is Using Dryer Sheets Necessary?

Using dryer sheets has benefits that keep their enthusiasts hooked. Some of the common reasons that justify using dryer sheets include the following:

  • To soften the fabric
  • Lower static
  • Minimize wrinkles on the garments
  • Add a nice fragrance to the clothes
  • Inhibit lint

Soften the Fabric

If you want to have your garments soft, then add the dryer sheets to the dryer. 

Once in the dryer, the stearic acid or fatty acids on the sheets melts from the increased temperature in the dryer and soften the clothes. 

Lower Static

When using a tumble dryer and different fabrics brush against each other, they tend to form an electrostatic charge.

Consequently, when wearing these clothes, they’ll cling to your body. 

Dryer sheets help resolve the issue as the acid they release works around each garment, lowering the chance of rubbing against each other and reducing static.

Add a Good Scent to Garments

Most dryer sheets in the market have a fragrance added, which is passed to clothes in the dryer.

By adding this fragrance, dryer sheets eliminate the need to spray the clothes after drying. 

Inhibit Lint

The friction of different fabric fibers within the dryer as water is removed from the garments leads to loosening surface fibers.

As drying continues, the fibers join to form a lint.

Dryer sheets help deter linting as tangling is minimized within the dryer, and the fabric fibers are held in place. 

Reduce Wrinkles

You can be forgiven for thinking that garments from the dryer where dryer sheets were added are ironed. They hardly have creases and wrinkles on them.

For this reason, most people use dryer sheets to avoid extra ironing work.

These reasons justify using dryer sheets and have turned them into a household must-have.

On the other side of the divide, some argue dryer sheets are unnecessary. Why so?

When is Using Dryer Sheets Unnecessary?

Despite the many benefits, there are instances where you can justifiably skip the sheets. The instances include:

  • When drying towels and microfiber cloths
  •  Drying athletic wear
  • When your skin is sensitive

Drying Towels and Microfiber Cloths

Dryer sheets reduce absorbency in garments, which makes them unsuitable when drying towels and similar garments. 

The fatty acids in the sheets make the towels slippery, meaning they won’t be able to absorb water and moisture, which is their primary goal.

It’s imperative, therefore, to sort out your load of garments before adding the dryer sheets.

When Drying Athletic Wear

Dryer sheets will give your athletic wear a greasy topping which results in the clothes lowering their wicking ability which is their primary goal.

Athletic wear is meant to wick away sweat and body fluids when working; the greasy surface from dryer sheets will prohibit this functionality.

It’s therefore advisable to avoid the dryer sheets when handling sportswear.

Sensitive Skin

If your skin reacts to chemicals or you’re allergic to strong scents, you’re better off skipping the dryer sheets.

Dryer sheets are made from a combination of chemicals that could react with sensitive skin causing rashes.

You could also develop respiratory issues due to the fragrances.

The dryer sheets are optional, and your health can be protected, especially with potential alternatives with similar results.

Dryer Sheets Alternatives

If the scents from dryer sheets affect you, but you desire to have smoothened and lowered static on your clothes, here are your options:

Baking Soda

During the washing phase, before transferring the load to the dryer, add a spoonful of baking soda. 

Baking soda will solve the fragrance issue in dryer sheers and smoothen the garments preventing linting and lowering static.

Dryer Balls

These are woolen balls available in the market that you place in the dryer just as you would place the dryer sheets. 

Depending on the load size, you can have several of them in the dryer. The balls are odorless, and you could even make them at home.

Dryer balls lower static on garments and also soften them. 


Vinegar is the kitchen’s magic spark and also comes in handy as a dryer sheets alternative.

Get a damp washcloth, add a half-cup of vinegar or less going by the size of your laundry, and put it in the dryer with the clothes.

It will prevent static and soften the clothes just as dryer sheets would devoid of the scent.

Aluminum Foil

Roll the aluminum foil into a ball and throw it into the dryer; the exchange of electrons will leave your clothes smoother and more static-free.

The foils are also cheaper than dryer sheets, and you’ll eliminate the strong scent that comes with sheets.

How To Make Your Own Dryer Sheets Using Natural Ingredients

Making your own dryer sheets is a great way to reduce its effects and save money. Plus, you can customize them to your preferences by adding your favorite essential oils. 

The basic ingredients you’ll need are vinegar and fabric softener.

You can either add a few drops of essential oil to the fabric softener before combining it with the vinegar, or you can add the oil directly to the vinegar. 

Once you’ve mixed everything together, simply soak a clean rag in the solution and wring it out. Then, toss the rag in the dryer with your clothes. 

The vinegar will help to soften the fabric and eliminate static, while the essential oil will leave your laundry smelling fresh.

You can reuse the same rag for several loads of laundry before washing it in hot water.

The Perks of Making Your Own Dryer Sheets

Most people have probably used dryer sheets at some point, whether to keep their clothes static-free or to make them smell fresher. 

However, many store-bought dryer sheets contain chemicals that can be harmful to both your skin and the environment. 

Fortunately, there are several easy and inexpensive ways to make your dryer sheets. 

The best part is that homemade dryer sheets are just as effective as store-bought versions, and they’re much cheaper to make. 

All you need is a roll of paper towels and a bottle of fabric softener.

Simply cut the paper towels into squares, add a few drops of fabric softener, and toss them in the dryer with your wet laundry.

These DIY dryer sheets will leave your clothes feeling soft and static-free. 

Plus, you can use them over and over again until they eventually fall apart.

So next time you plan on ditching dryer sheets for good or you’re at the store struggling to choose between different brands of dryer sheets, save yourself some money and make your own instead.

On a side note, making your dryer sheets is a simple and easy way to save money and reduce your impact on the environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it a must to use dryer sheets?

No, it’s not a must to use dryer sheets.

While they offer many benefits, it’s possible to achieve the same results without them.

You can try using baking soda, vinegar, aluminum foil, or dryer balls for similar results.

Are dryer sheets bad for towels?

Yes, the fatty acids in the dryer sheets reduce absorbency making them unsuitable for drying towels and microfiber cloths.

Alternatives such as baking soda, vinegar, and aluminum foil would be more suitable for towels.

Are dryer sheets bad for clothes?

Dryer sheets are not necessarily bad as they offer many benefits including reducing static and softening the garments.

However, certain fabrics may be negatively affected by their ingredients. Always check the care instructions before using them.

What are some of the potential dangers of using dryer sheets regularly?

One common side effect of using dryer sheets is skin irritation, as the chemicals in the sheets can cause redness, itching, and even blistering.

In some cases, these chemical reactions can be severe enough to require medical attention. 

Regular exposure to dryer sheets has been linked to difficulty breathing and even lung damage.

In addition to this, dryer sheets can release harmful chemicals into the air, contributing to indoor air pollution. 

How can you make the switch to alternative methods to dryer sheets?

One option is to use wool dryer balls. They help to reduce static and wrinkles, and they can also shorten drying time.

Another option is to use a clean, damp towel in the dryer. This will help to absorb static and help clothes dry faster.

You can also add a few drops of essential oil to the towel for a fresh scent. 

Also, you can try using vinegar in the rinse cycle.

This will help to remove any lingering soap residue and leave your clothes feeling soft and refreshed. 

Final Thoughts

Dryer sheets have been a mainstay in many laundry rooms for years, and while some people swear by them, others wonder if they’re really necessary.

And if you’re like most people, you probably grew up using them in the laundry.

Dryer sheets do work effectively by coating your clothes with a thin layer of chemicals that help reduce static cling and make your clothes feel softer and smell nicer.

They are certainly beneficial in many ways but there are alternatives to using them that can give you equally good results

Dryer sheets have their pros and cons.

At the end of the day, only you get to decide if you want to keep using them in your laundry routine or not.