Are Dryer Sheets Necessary? 3 Easy Alternatives

There are a variety of reasons you might consider skipping dryer sheets, from helping your clothes last longer to avoiding potential skin irritation. But, can you even do that or are dryer sheets necessary?

Dryer sheets are not necessary. Dryer sheets do provide some benefits, such as reduced static and added scents. However, dryer sheets are not necessary and can have disadvantages. Alternatives to dryer sheets include dryer balls and DIY remedies.

If you’re like me, you probably started using dryer sheets when you first learned to do laundry. Since then, I’ve stopped using dryer sheets entirely and now we use dryer balls instead. Keep reading to see if ditching the dryer sheets makes sense for you too.

Are Dryer Sheets Necessary?

are dryer sheets necessary

As I mentioned earlier, dryer sheets are not necessary for your laundry.

Many people don’t like how their laundry feels or smells without using dryer sheets, but nothing catastrophic will happen if you don’t use dryer sheets in your laundry. However, some people won’t use dryer sheets for a variety of reasons.

But, before we get into all that, we need some background information. So, let’s talk about what dryer sheets are.

What Are Dryer Sheets?

Dryer sheets are thin, square pieces of polyester fabric that are embedded with a fabric softener material.  They typically have a pleasant fragrance, such as lavender or a spring meadow.

The primary purpose of dryer sheets is to prevent the inevitable buildup of static to the fabric throughout the drying process and to make your clothes smell nice.  

Because of the subtle wax coating on the sheets, they also help reduce fabric wrinkles as they toss and tumble in the dryer. Fewer wrinkles and static also mean that clothing is softer and less clingy against the skin.

For these reasons, many feel that dryer sheets are something they can’t live without. But, the benefits gained from dryer sheets can be gained using other methods, we’ll talk about that later. First, let’s talk about reasons why you may or may not want to use dryer sheets..

Pros / Cons of Using Dryer Sheets

When you’re figuring something out, or considering making a change, there’s nothing like a good ol’ pros and cons list. So here’s a brief one for dryer sheets:

Pros of Dryer Sheets

Soften Fabric

Dryer sheets soften clothing by coating your clothes in fabric softener in the dryer. This method of softening clothes is extremely effective.

Reduce Static Cling

One of the main reasons people want to use dryer sheets is to reduce that annoying static cling. But how do they do it?

In short, it’s because dryer sheets are made of polyester.

Having a different type of fabric, such as polyester, in the dryer with your clothes is one of the things that decreases static cling. Some of the chemicals on dryer sheets also help with static cling.

Fresh Smell

Let’s be honest, nothing is better than a warm fresh-smelling load of laundry. It makes you just want to bury yourself in it.

Dryer sheets have scents in the coating on the sheet that release in the dryer when the sheet gets heated up.

You might be able to think of a few more, but these are the big ones. Now, let’s look at the cons.

Cons of Dryer Sheets

Contain Chemicals

As we learned when we talked about how dryer sheets worked, dryer sheets are coated with chemicals that get released when the sheet heats up. These chemicals make the clothing softer and release scents.

However, these chemicals could irritate certain health conditions such as upper respiratory issues or irritate sensitive skin which is next on our list of cons.

Skin Irritation

As I just mentioned, the chemicals contained in dryer sheets can irritate those with sensitive skin or other skin issues which, in severe cases, can cause skin rashes. 

If you or someone in your household has sensitive skin or reacts to dryer sheets, then now is an excellent time to explore some alternatives to dryer sheets.

Reduces Absorbency of Fabrics

Because the dryer sheets soften fabrics by coating them in fabric softener, skip the dryer sheets when drying towels or microfiber cloths.

The coating can give towels a slippery, greasy finish which means they won’t dry as well as they should. Obviously, this is not ideal since a towel’s primary purpose is to absorb moisture. 

Reduces a Fabric’s Wicking Ability

Similar to the way they counteract a towel’s absorbency, dryer sheets can adversely affect athletic clothing. 

Athletic clothing items are tailor-made to wick away moisture from the body, so exposing them to the greasy coating on a dryer sheet will weaken their sweat-wicking capabilities. The same can also be said for diapers or anything else that is meant to absorb. 

With these pros and cons in mind, let’s discuss some alternatives to dryer sheets so you can decide if dryer sheets are still a good option for you.

Alternatives to Dryer Sheets

Alternatives to dryer sheets

There are several alternatives to dryer sheets that perform similar functions. You could use them all seperately depending on what benefits you’re looking for, or you could use them all together and get ALL the benefits.

Here’s a quick summary of options to consider.


Depending on the wash size, add roughly 1/4 to a 1/2 cup of vinegar to a damp washcloth and then place it in the dryer with your clothes.  

Adding vinegar to your dryer will do two things for you.

First, vinegar will break down and remove detergent residue and hard water minerals from your clothes which helps soften them.

Second, vinegar is a deodorizer and will make sure your clothes aren’t smelling like stale sweat.

This is a quick and cheap way to get some of the benefits of dryer sheets without the other cons associated with them. Just make sure you don’t add too much vinegar or your clothes could end up smelling like it!

Dryer Balls

I’ve been using dryer balls for quite a while and they are a great alternative to dryer sheets but what are they?

Wool dryer balls are felted balls of wool that bounce around inside your dryer with your clothes.

They soften clothing, decrease dry time, reduce static, and can even add scents. These are just a few of the benefits of dryer balls but it’s certainly not an all inclusive list.

If you’re crafty, you can even make your own!

Aluminum Foil

Take approximately one sheet of aluminum foil, crumple it up into a ball, and then place it in the dryer before the drying cycle begins.   

This bundle of aluminum will decrease static by collecting all the static electricity and then discharging it when it hits the side of the dryer. For the best results, add two or three of the balls.

Don’t worry though, it won’t damage your dryer at all, your dryer just gets a quick jolt of static just like you would if you rubbed your feet on the carpet.

If none of these options are what you’re looking for, you can also air dry your clothes on a clothesline, drying rack, or just hung in the bathroom if you have limited space.


Dryer sheets are convenient and can provide a variety of benefits for your laundry. However, dryer sheets are not necessary and nothing catastrophic will happen if you don’t add dryer sheets.

Dryer sheets soften fabrics, reduce static, and keep your clothes smelling fresh. But, they can also reduce absorbency and wicking of fabrics, as well as cause skin irritation from the chemicals in them.

If you don’t want to use dryer sheets anymore, you can add vinegar, use wool dryer balls, add a ball of aluminum foil, or use all three.

Now, with your new found knowledge, go add a little upgrade to your life!

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