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A previous post, Fabric Softener Products are the Problem Not the Solution, struck a chord with thousands of readers. I know because you send me messages and letters, which I love—even ones from some who are not 100% satisfied making the switch from problematic laundry softeners to what I find are amazing wool dryer balls.

But first, let’s review the problem:

The trouble with fabric softeners

The medical website, WebMD.com, reports that the perfumes and additives in laundry products may cause skin problems. Fabric softeners are very allergenic and can cause eczema, which appears as dry, itchy skin.

Dryer sheets contain fragrance and volatile organic compounds like acetaldehyde and butane, which can cause respiratory irritation. Fabric softener chemicals known as quaternary ammonium compounds have been linked to asthma. Acetone, also used in dryer sheets, can cause nervous system effects like headaches or dizziness.

Why wool dryer balls?

These things look like overgrown tennis balls, made of 100% wool yarn, that over time becomes “felted,” making them especially durable and not at all prone to unraveling. One set of wool dryer balls will last what seems like forever, softening thousands of loads of laundry—no batteries, refills, repairs or reconditioning required. It’s one [purchase] and done! Read more

Apparently, I’m a slow learner. I can’t think of another reason why it took years to associate my sons’ and husband’s itchy skin problems with the dryer sheets I used in the clothes dryer.

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While we didn’t experience respiratory problems that are often associated with fabric softeners, the medical website, WebMD.com, reports that the perfumes and additives in laundry products may also cause respiratory problems in some individuals.

One would expect that such a life-impacting revelation (all the skin problems disappeared once I stopped using any fabric softeners or dryer sheets) would have banned those pesky sheets from our home. But that’s not true.

Dryer sheets have so many other uses around that home—indoors, outdoors, and in the garage too—I keep a box of fragrance-free dryer sheets on hand for many other uses. (Even without fragrance, dryer sheets pose a problem for my family when used in the dryer with clothing, sheets and towels).

A used dryer sheet is ideal for many of the applications that follow. However, if you, like me, don’t end up with used sheets from the dryer, simply soak a new sheet in water and then wring it out. Most of the time you want to the sheet to be damp anyway. Hint: If you are sensitive to dryer sheets, be sure to wear rubber or latex gloves when handling a new sheet.

RELATED: Fabric Softener Products are the Problem Not the Solution

SCREEN CLEANER

Dryer sheets make great dusting and cleaning cloths for television and computer screens. Not only will they clean the screens, but the antistatic properties will also treat the screens to repel rather than attract dust. Dryer sheets are designed to reduce static cling, so they remove the dust and help keep it from resettling from television and computer screens.

DRY-ERASE

To add luster and restore the surface of a dry-erase memo board, polish it with a dryer sheet.

Read more

In the laundry room, most of us are prone to overkill. We want beautifully clean, brilliantly white, soft and fluffy laundry results. And we don’t measure.

We pour stuff out of jugs, straight into the washer, often adding a second big glug just to make sure.

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We use liquid fabric softener by the gallon and dryer sheets by the hundreds because there’s no such thing as too soft when it comes to towels and sheets. And when things come out looking gray and feeling stiff and crunchy, what do we do? More detergent, more softener—even more dryer sheets!

Grungy build-up

The problem is product build-up that never gets rinsed out. Every time you do the laundry, more and more product gets left behind. This build-up of detergent and softeners can make appliances stink, colors look dingy, whites gray and linens feel stiff and scratchy. But that’s not the worst.

Health and respiratory issues

The medical website, WebMD.com reports that the perfumes and additives in laundry products may cause skin problems—from itchiness to full-blown dermatitis. Fabric softeners are very allergenic and can cause eczema, which can appear as dry, flaky, chronically itchy skin.

Dryer sheets contain volatile organic compounds like acetaldehyde and butane, which can cause respiratory irritation. Fabric softener chemicals known as quaternary ammonium compounds have been linked to asthma. Acetone, also used in dryer sheets, can cause nervous system effects like headaches or dizziness. Read more

Perhaps you’ve seen the list of uses for dryer sheets that’s floating around the Internet. Who knows where that list came from. What we do know is not all of the alternative uses can be verified as true.

For example, we have no confidence that Bounce or any other brand of dryer sheet will repel mosquitoes. But spiders and flies? Read on.

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PESTS

Readers have confirmed that dryer sheets will repel both spiders and flies. Keep a few extra sheets in clothes hampers and around the laundry area and you can kiss all those spiders goodbye.

BURNT PAN

Fill that icky casserole pan with warm water and lay a dryer sheet flat on top to soak overnight. In the morning, the baked-on gunk will have either floated off or be loose enough to scrape off easily with a spatula.

TISSUE ROLL

Roll up a dryer sheet and stuff it inside the paper roll. Each time you spin, it releases a little freshness into your bathroom.

BLINDS

Wipe down your blinds with a dryer sheet to prevent static electricity and to keep dust from collecting. Read more