This story is part of Tips for the homeCNET’s collection of practical tips for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

There’s nothing quite like the clean smell and luxurious feel of freshly laundered laundry after using fabric softener and dryer sheets. But these clothespins can actually hurt your clothes, yours towels and your dryer.


That’s why it might be time to get rid of some of your favorite laundry products. You can also check out our others top laundry tricksand how to do laundry so you save money on your energy bill.

Read more: The best washing machine for 2022

Dryer sheets can do more harm than good

Dryer sheets are woven sheets of fiber coated with stearic acid or fatty acids combined with various fragrances and other chemicals. The heat from the dryer melts the stearic acid on the clothes, making them soft and less static.

Unfortunately, this film covers your entire dryer in addition to your clothes. This is especially problematic when it comes to the dryer lint filter. The leaf debris eventually builds up on the filter and makes it difficult to remove lint.

This can also cause lint to build up on your clothes. Because the air can’t get through the filter to pull the lint off your clothes, it sticks to your clothes.

Here are some other issues with dryer sheets:

  • Make towels less absorbent: The coating makes your towels less absorbent, so avoid using dryer sheets with towels or rags.
  • Reduce fire resistance: If you have children, avoid drying their pajamas. The coating may make the pajamas less fire resistant.
  • Disabling wicking capabilities: Stearic acid coatings can interfere with the absorbency of activewear and socks.

Use this homemade substitute for dryer sheets

To change your dryer sheets, do aluminum foil balls for your dryer. You only need two or three foil balls made with 3 or 4 square feet (0.28 to 0.39 square meters) of aluminum foil each, crumpled into a ball about 2 to 3 inches (5.0 to 7.6 centimeters). Simply toss them in the dryer with your wet clothes to combat static build-up on clothes – no chemicals required.

balls of aluminum foil going into the laundry

Aluminum foil is actually a great alternative to traditional dryer sheets.

Taylor Martin/CNET

Softener has less problems

Fabric softener is another popular laundry product that comes with its own set of problems. Because fabric softener works by depositing a layer of electrically charged chemicals on the fabric, causing the fibers to swell and making the fabric softer, this residue can irritate sensitive skin, reduce the absorbency of your towels, and reduce the effectiveness of your baby’s flame-resistant clothing, as well as reduce the ability of training clothes to wick away moisture, according to User reports.

Here’s what to use instead of fabric softener

To replace fabric softener with a homemade version that won’t harm your clothes, add a quarter cup of baking soda or a half cup of white vinegar to your laundry during the rinse cycle. Your clothes will feel softer and look brighter without any harsh chemicals.

Disclaimer: Do not mix vinegar with bleach. Creates harmful fumes. Also, don’t use vinegar if you have a front-loading washer, as it can corrode the door seal.

For more tips see how to clean your yoga mat and the right way to clean your fridge.

More laundry and cleaning tips

Previous articleSamsung is committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050
Next articleAdobe acquired collaborative design platform Figma for $20 billion