Nontoxic Dryer Sheet Alternatives – Detox Your Laundry with Dryer Balls

the words "nontoxic dryer sheet alternatives" over an image of a woman's hand holding a wool dryer ball and another dryer ball in a dryer

When you’re trying to detoxify your home, finding a nontoxic dryer sheet alternative is one of the easiest places to start. There are several options available, and you’ll remove a big source of toxic chemicals from your home and the environment.

(The contents of this post do not constitute medical advice. This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read our disclaimer.)

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the words "nontoxic dryer sheet alternatives" over an image of two wool dryer balls and a white blanket in a dryer

Let’s Air Some Dirty Laundry

Laundry is my least favorite household chore. I don’t know what it is (okay, I do – it’s putting the clothes away after you wash them), but I’d rather complete almost any other task around our home.

But laundry is actually hugely important, not just because it keeps our clothes from getting funky but also because the way we decide to wash our laundry can have serious consequences for our health.

For drying clothes, people often turn to dryer sheets. I used to love dryer sheets and would always buy the lavender ones because I love that scent and it smelled more natural to me. But I eventually learned that dryer sheets aren’t great for you and it’s best to use a nontoxic dryer sheet alternative.

Related: Why to Go Nontoxic During Pregnancy

a hand placing a dryer sheet into a dryer with a load of clothes

Dryer Sheets = Toxin Central

Conventional dryer sheets are designed to slowly release fabric softener into your laundry as it dries. You can feel the tacky coating on traditional dryer sheets if you rub them between your fingers. The fabric softener dryer sheets are known for has the job of lubricating clothing with a slimy residue that prevents static and makes fabric feel soft.

This coating makes your fabrics less effective at what they were designed to do. Over time, as fabrics get coated with residue, activewear becomes less breathable, and towels become less absorbent.

That coating is made up of a type of chemical called quaternary ammonium compounds. These chemicals can worsen asthma and irritate sensitive skin. 

What’s more, the things that we put into our dryers don’t stay there. The hot air from our dryers gets vented out of our homes. Emissions from dryer vents are basically unregulated pollution. Anyone that walks by and breathes them in can be affected by them.

A recent study also found that scented laundry products release two carcinogens that cause leukemia and nasal and throat cancers. The thing is, manufacturers don’t actually have to disclose the ingredients used in fragrances or laundry products. I pulled out a box of dryer sheets that we used to use and couldn’t find ingredients listed anywhere on it.

As a consumer, this is a problem for me. It bothers me to think that the products I’m using are coating my clothing with chemicals that then come in contact with my skin and that I (and other people) breathe in. In my opinion, if my clothes are covered with toxins and chemicals, they’re not really clean.

So if toxic dryer sheets aren’t an option for me, what can I use as a nontoxic dryer sheet substitute?

Related: DIY Nontoxic All-Purpose Cleaner

two wool dryer balls, a nontoxic dryer sheet substitute, and a white blanket in a dryer

Wool Dryer Balls, the Natural Dryer Sheet Alternative

Wool dryer balls are my favorite natural alternative to dryer sheets. They are super inexpensive and last forever. I bought mine more than five years ago, and they are still going strong (find them here). 

When the dryer balls bounce around, they separate your clothing. This will let more hot air flow and reduce static cling, shortening drying time and making your clothes softer.

They are insanely easy to use, and since they last for so long, they’re far more sustainable than dryer sheets! If you are working toward a nontoxic home, dryer balls are one of the easiest switches to make!

How to Use Dryer Balls

  • The number of dryer balls you need will depend on the size of the load of laundry. Use 2 for a small load, 3-4 for a medium load, and 5-6 for a large load.
  • You don’t have to use essential oils on them, but I 100% recommend it! Add 3-4 drops of essential oils of your chosen scent to each dryer ball. I like lavender!
  • Throw the dryer balls in with your laundry and dry as normal.
  • When you’re putting away your laundry, hunt around for the dryer balls and put them back in the laundry room to use again!
a stack of four wool dryer balls, a nontoxic dryer sheet alternative, sitting on a white quilted blanket

DIY Nontoxic Dryer Sheet Substitutes

If dryer balls aren’t for you, no worries! Here are a few easy DIY nontoxic dryer sheet substitutes:

  • If you like to use dryer sheets to soften your clothes, add baking soda and/or vinegar to your washing machine instead. Both are effective at softening and deodorizing clothes. Put ¼ cup baking soda into your washer drum with your clothes and/or ½ cup white vinegar into the fabric softener compartment to get these benefits.
  • Soak cloths in a 1:1 vinegar-to-water solution. When you’re ready to dry your clothes, toss one of the cloths into the dryer with them.

Nontoxic Dryer Sheet Options

If you still prefer using dryer sheets but want to find nontoxic ones, here are some more natural, low-tox, and environmentally-friendly dryer sheet alternatives:

Which nontoxic dryer sheet option have you decided to use? Tell me in the comments!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a healthy alternative to dryer sheets?

Wool dryer balls are a healthy alternative to dryer sheets. They’re free of chemicals, made of natural wool, and environmentally friendly because they can be used over and over again.

Are there nontoxic dryer sheets?

There are many nontoxic dryer sheet options, including reusable dryer sheets and disposable ones that are lower-tox than conventional dryer sheets.

Is it okay to dry my clothes without a dryer sheet?

Yes! It is absolutely fine to dry your clothes without a dryer sheet. They’re not necessary, and you can either use one of the natural dryer sheets listed in this article or skip them altogether.

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