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Do you love the smell of fresh laundry right out of the dryer?

I do too!  That is, I did until I got pregnant with my first daughter.  After I got pregnant I could not stand the smell of my favorite laundry detergent, dryer sheets, or fabric softener.  I even used products that were on the more natural side.  It didn’t matter, every one I tried gave me a headache and made me nauseous.

I didn’t know it at the time, but this was actually a blessing in disguise!

Why a blessing, you ask?  Well, I wanted my clothes to have a fresh clean smell but since I couldn’t stand any of the store-bought dryer sheets (even the ones that claim to be natural), I had to look into options.

This was an eye-opening experience that led me down the road to a healthier laundry room!



What Is Wrong With Dryer Sheets?


Most people use dryer sheets or fabric softener to help their clothes smell good and reduce or eliminate static cling.  The problem is that dryer sheets are commonly made from polyester and have fabric softener applied.  The chemicals in dryer sheets are numerous and have been linked to some serious health issues.

Common chemicals found in laundry products are:

  • acetaldehyde
  • benzene
  • methylisothiazolinone
  • phthalates
  • fragrance
  • colors

These chemical ingredients (and many others) have been found to be air pollutants, potentially carcinogenic, and have a negative effect on the respiratory and nervous systems.

It is not uncommon for people to experience skin issues, respiratory problems (including asthma attacks), migraines, and even feel dizzy just from using laundry products!

On top of all that, dryer sheets are not reusable, not biodegradable, and they have been found to be toxic to wildlife.  They are not healthy for people, animals, or our environment!



Non-Toxic Alternatives To Dryer Sheets


You may be wondering what alternatives there are to dryer sheets (or fabric softener).  Well, I have a few options that work great, are relatively inexpensive, and best of all- they are not full of toxic chemicals!  Good for you and the environment.  It’s a win-win! 🙂


  1. White vinegar- yep, plain white vinegar is a great fabric softener.  Just add 1/2 cup to the rinse cycle and you will have softer clothes (especially if you dry them on a clothesline!).  The vinegar smell does not stay, so no worries about vinegar smelling clothing.
  2. Dryer balls–  these little wool balls are really quite handy.  They are known to help soften laundry, reduce static, and shorten drying time.  You can buy them, or if you’re looking for a fun project you can make your own!
  3. DIY dryer sheets–  all you need is old cloth scraps (stained dishcloths or old cloth baby wipes work great for this), a cup of vinegar, and a wide mouth jar with a lid.  Put the cloth in the jar, add vinegar, and make sure that all of the cloth is wet but not soaking.  Use one for each load you put in the dryer.



vinegar, measuring cup, old wash cloths




Tips For Success

When making a change in your laundry products and routine, it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming.  But I have a few tips that will help you feel like a pro in no time!


  1. Start with a natural laundry soap–  better for you, and better for the environment.
  2. If you want whiter whites but do not want to use a chemical bleach, try a bleach alternative– just like laundry soap and dryer sheets, bleach has a number of issues making it a product that you don’t want in a healthy laundry room.
  3. Dry your clothes for less time- make sure not to overdry your clothes.  Too long in the dryer can cause static.
  4. Line dry-  when clothes aren’t rubbing together, static is not a problem.





1. Where can I find dryer balls?

You can find dryer balls in many big box stores, online, or from people that hand make them.  You can even make them yourself.  I love finding people that make these kinds of things locally because it helps support local business, they are hand made, and the person can answer any questions I might have.


2. How long do dryer balls last?

Dryer balls are a little more expensive up front than dryer sheets but they typically last for thousands of loads (if they start to leave wool on your clothes they can be recharged so you can continue to use them). So not only do you save money in the long run, you have a healthier laundry room too!


3. Can I add essential oils to dryer balls?

That is a great question!  There are a lot of people that add essential oils to their laundry soap or dryer balls, I am not one of them.  I have read that adding EO’s to your laundry can be a fire hazard because they are flammable.  I have never personally heard of someone having an issue but I always tend to err on the side of caution.  Also, I found that the scent that I was hoping for really didn’t stay after the clothes were dry.


4. How can I safely scent my clothes without using essential oils in the dryer?

If you are looking for a good alternative to using essential oils in the dryer, consider putting some dried flowers or herbs in a muslin bag (like a sachet) and putting them in with the laundry after drying.  You could even put small pieces of fabric with essential oils in the bag and put in your dresser or cabinet to help scent the clothes or linens.




lavender essential oil, piece of cloth, muslin bag



Final Thoughts…

If you are trying to create a healthier life, consider giving your laundry room a once over.  The laundry products commonly used can have a significant effect on your health, but simple solutions are readily available.  Not to mention, the alternatives are often cheaper as well as better for the environment.

It may take a little time to get used to using new products, but by eliminating the chemicals from your laundry room you are lessening the burden on your body, being kind to wildlife, and being environmentally friendly too!

Have you tried any of these options?  If so, I would love to hear about your experience!  Feel free to share in the comments or send me an email 🙂


I have a background in natural health and homeopathy, have been a licensed massage therapist for over 14 years, and have a degree in Human Services.  But most importantly, I am a wife and mom.

My mission is to provide researched information and actionable steps to help you on your road to good health.

Because there is nothing more important than....

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