Apparently, I’m a slow learner. I can’t think of another reason it took years to associate my sons’ and husband’s itchy skin problems with the dryer sheets I used in the clothes dryer.
While we didn’t experience respiratory problems that are often associated with fabric softeners, there is credible medical evidence 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.
Many of our 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.
Slip a dryer sheet into your suitcases while they are in storage and they won’t smell musty when you take them out to use.
Anytime you’re outdoors—whether playing, gardening, hiking, or just picnicking in the park—consider slipping a dryer sheet in your back pocket. Research has shown that a couple of chemical compounds commonly found in the sheets (linalool* and beta-citronellol) will deter the gnats and mosquitoes from hanging around, making this a reasonable and easier-to-use alternative to spray-on bug repellent.
*Linalool is naturally found in lavender and basil, which cosmetic and perfume companies use in their products for its flower-like odor. Linalool is toxic to some types of insects. Beta-citronellol, is found in citronella and repels mosquitoes.
There are reports out there that say new dryer sheets when cut into one-inch strips and tied to the tips of greenery or in trees, will repel plant-munching deer. I would deerly (!) love any reader reports to either confirm or deny.
Wipe down your blinds with a dryer sheet to prevent static electricity and to keep dust from collecting. Grab that dryer sheet with a pair of kitchen tongs and use that to quickly run over each slat. It’s quick, easy and will even pick up the dust.
Remove gunk from the bottom of an iron. With the setting on low, rub the iron over the dryer sheet until the residue disappears, and you’re left with a pristine soleplate.
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.
Shoes and boots, sneakers and tennis shoes can get really smelly. Pop a sheet into each of your less-than-fresh-smelling sneakers, sandals or boots, then place them in a plastic bag. Tie it closed. In the morning your shoes will smell so much better. For kids’ shoes or ladies’ pumps, you can cut each sheet in half and still get great results.
Used dryer sheets make great cloths for quick shine-ups in the bathroom and kitchen. Just use one on each of your chrome faucets and enjoy the shine.
There’s nothing like static electricity to turn a fan blade into a dust magnet. But that’s no match for a dryer sheet. Just take one of those gems and wipe down the blade to release dust, pet hair and cobwebs, too.
A used dryer sheet can turn the art of appliqué from tedious to so-easy! The “fabric” of dryer sheets is similar to interfacing but thinner, which makes it ideal for applique (also for backing a quilt block). By sewing the appliqué to the dryer sheet fabric and then “turning” it completely, you encapsulate all of the raw edges making the appliqué neat and clean. Here is a photo tutorial to explain and illustrate each step.
Clean paint brushes
Love to paint a room or other project but hate the clean-up, especially the brushes? Then you’re going to love this: Fill a sink, basin, or bucket with warm water, place the gunked-up brushes in the water, and add a dryer sheet. Soak for a few hours while you take a nap.
The remaining paint should come off almost like magic, making it easy to just rinse and allow the brushes to dry so they’re ready for the next job.
Gunky oven racks
To clean your oven racks or grill grates, rinse them off then soak them overnight in a tub of warm water with a little dishwashing liquid and a handful of dryer sheets (four or five should do it). Lay the dryer sheets on the floor of the tub, then place the racks and grates on top. Add 1/2 cup dishwashing liquid plus enough warm water to cover the racks.
Hint: For really messy grill grates, use a large black plastic bag to mimic a tub. Lay it out flat where it will be in the sun for a few hours then proceed as described. Tie the bag shut and walk away.
Fill that icky burned-on mess in a casserole dish or 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. It is quite amazing.
Roll up a dryer sheet and stuff it inside the paper roll. Each time you spin, it releases a little freshness into your bathroom.
Dip a dryer sheet into water so that it becomes saturated and then use it to remove bugs from your car’s windshield and front grill. The fabric is just slightly abrasive, which makes it ideal to scrub away the insects but not at all harsh as to damage the finish.
Place a used dryer sheet in the bag of your vacuum. Sweep your house and once you’re done, the air will smell as fresh as your clothes provided you, like many, are not overly sensitive to the fragrance in the dryer sheets.
If those scissors or kitchen shears are sticking and not cutting as smoothly as you would like, no problem. Cut through several layers of a dryer sheet a few times and they’ll cut more easily again.
Dryer sheets can help to get rid of a mild case of soap scum in the bathroom—from the walls of the shower, the shower door, and the chrome faucet handles as well. All it takes is just a few drops of water on a dryer sheet (used or new) and soap scum build-up nearly slides off.
Get the car wet, then use a dryer sheet to wipe away all the bugs and road tar. It’s easier and faster than the most expensive bug and tar removers.
To add luster and restore the surface of a dry-erase memo board, polish it with a dryer sheet.
Place dryer sheets in drawers and near entrances and exits in your camper when it is not being used—dryer sheets, according to reader feedback, will keep rodents from coming inside.
A sheet at the bottom of a gym bag will mask the odor until you can get those clothes into the laundry.
White deodorant marks
You know those ugly white marks that show up on your fresh clean shirt? Use a dryer sheet to wipe them away, quick and easy,
Stop static cling on clothes or tame your flyaway hair by rubbing a sheet over the problem area.
Swiffer mops are great, but those refill sheets can get pricey. Or just when you go to clean the floor you realize you’re flat out of refills. Try a couple of new or used dryer sheets instead. Also works on bookshelves, blinds, and baseboards.
First published: 8-9-16; Expanded Updated 10-2-20
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