Natural Alternative to Dryer Sheets

Disclosure: Some content includes links to sponsors or affiliates, which give me a small percentage of the sale. You are not obligated to use these links when you make a purchase, but when you do so it helps to support this site, so thank you!

Image by dennis

When I first started this blog, I told you guys about how I saved on dryer sheets – by making my own with diluted fabric softener. But I’ll be honest…since trying to go more natural around here, it was starting to annoy me to buy fabric softener since I was using vinegar in the wash in lieu of that. Why buy fabric softener just for dryer sheets? So, I decided to quit. I was only using it in the cold winter months anyway since I like to dry my clothes outside when it’s warm.

I had read that using dryer balls would cut down on static in the dryer AND make your clothes dry faster. That sounded like a win-win to me. So, I began to look around at all the options. I first read that you could use tennis balls…..but then several people voiced concern that they had actually tinted some of their clothing yellow. Not cool man. There are several different types on Amazon, but a lot of them aren’t BPA free – and BPA gives me the freak out a little bit.  I had these PVC Free Dryer Balls on my “wish list” for the longest time, but then I decided to go with something even more natural – wool.

Wool dryer balls from Borrowed Wool

I decided to go with wool because I just love all the wonderful properties it has – it doesn’t mold, it’s antimicrobial….it’s just an awesome “fabric.” After researching, I read it’s best to use 4-6 balls, so I wanted to order 6. I looked all over Etsy and finally settled on these from Borrowed Wool.  They are top quality and so pretty! Borrowed Wool also has great customer service.

They really do reduce drying time! I’ve also read in multiple places that they’re great to have when drying cloth diapers because they fluff them up a bit. The best part? You just reuse them again and again……forever. No need to buy more – unless your toddler hides them and you can’t find them anywhere and you search high and low for about 24 hours before you find them hidden behind her bed for safe keeping. I can highly recommend Borrowed Wool if you’re looking to buy a set of your own.

Wool dryer balls from Borrowed Wool

They can soften your clothes and I’ve also read that they reduce static. Did they reduce static for me? Well, not really. But, that’s likely because in the winter it’s hard to get rid of ANY static, especially if you have any fleece in the dryer – that’s stuff is full of electric charge. When I want to give my clothes a pretty smell, I put one drop of lavender essential oil on each ball….it works GREAT! One drop on each ball works for about three loads and it also helps control static cling.

I could have opted to make my own……and if I had some wool yarn around, I might have done that. I looked at a ton of tutorials – this one from The Good Mama is a great one. But, after consulting with my genius friend Brandy, the knower of all things wool, we both decided that for me, it would make more sense to just buy them – after buying the yarn and spending the time to make them, I wouldn’t have come out ahead. BUT, if you have wool yarn just hanging around, then you might want to use that tutorial and make your own.

One of my favorite blogs, DIY Natural also had an interesting point about avoiding chemicals in the dryer if you don’t have dryer balls or essential oils. You can dampen your hands and fluff your clothes when they come out of the dryer to help get rid of static. All this talk of static and the dryer makes me yearn for the warm months when I can hang my laundry outside and watch it blow in the breeze – it’s the little things in life that bring such contentment.

*This post is linked at Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead, at Simple Lives Thursday on GNOWFGLINS, and at Healthy 2Day Wednesday on Quick Easy Cheap and Healthy.


Comment Policy: I love hearing your thoughts and input on what I write. Since I write about what works at my house, what pleases my handsome hubby and darling children; I'm sure we'll disagree sometimes. In those cases, do what's right for you and yours. As with any form of communication, please only post comments that move the discussion in a positive direction.

About Stacy

Stacy is the author of Crock On: A Semi-Whole Foods Slow Cooker Cookbook and Keep Crockin': A Poorganic Slow Cooker Cookbook, and a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom to her two children, Annie (June 2009) and Andy (August 2012). After an “awakening” in March 2011, her family switched to a more natural, whole foods diet. She likes to blog about how to live on less than you make and how to eat good food while doing it. Her passion is teaching others how to save money and she tag teams with her husband in this endeavor. At Stacy Makes Cents you’ll find information on how to save money in the kitchen, how to have fun with your kids, and how to be thrifty in all areas of life. Her passion is teaching others how to live debt free. Make sure to follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more to keep up with her daily antics.

  • http://impossibleway.livejournal.com Brandy

    I’m so glad you like them. And that you think I’m a genius. ;-)

    • Stacy

      You ARE a genius. You’re my Google.

  • Yolanda

    *Loud Applause!!!!* Thank you for this post. It never occurred to me to even wonder about the BPA in my plastic drying balls! And I have plenty of wool around, so I can make some of these. Just make wool felt balls! And what a great gift idea too! Yes! Christmas in February! :)

    • Stacy

      It IS a great gift idea! :-) Smart thinking!

  • becky

    But isn’t the point of dryer sheets to get rid of or reduce static cling in clothes? I know for u who dry clothes outside, but for those of us who can’t due to pollen or hoa regulations or whatever, would this be a wise purchase? How much faster did it dry ur clothes? You know I love u and your posts, but just asking questions…

    • Stacy

      I can dry my clothes about 10-15 minutes faster. The reason behind getting rid of the dyer sheets was to reduce the chemical issue. Wool is natural…but it doesn’t eliminate static cling. It helps to dampen your hands to fold them though.
      However, if your goal is to solely get rid of static then this won’t work 100%.
      But I will tell you that my mom uses dryer sheets and even she says they don’t get rid of all the static. :-)

  • Ruth

    Thank you, Stacy!! I’ve been using those silly blue ‘prickly’ dryer balls, but love the natural approach! BTW, if you really do want to make these and don’t have wool, don’t buy retail. Go to the thrift store and purchase some handmade sweaters. They will ravel easily and be very inexpensive :) This is the right time to hit the thrift stores for these as they’re trying to clear out their winter clothes :)

    • Stacy

      Ah yes…that’s where I purchased the wool to make Annie’s diaper covers. Great tip!

  • http://www.sweetkissesanddirtydishes.com Debra @ Sweet Kisses and Dirty Dishes

    Hmmm… this makes me think I should hunt through all my son’s toys to find those wool “balls” I made, and he loved. I did not really give them enough of a chance to prove themselves and so when they went missing, I did not really look for them. I only have three though, that might be why they did not do very much.

    • Stacy

      Well, three are better than none. I bet you could make your own – you’re so resourceful like that. :-)

  • Cheryl

    I’ve been using strips of heavy duty aluminum foil in my dryer for a couple yrs, and it works wonders for static cling!! I live in Colorado @ over 6000 ft altitude where the air is ALWAYS dry. Static cling here comes in epic proportions – on all things! :)

    I use either white vinegar or citric acid (we have HARD water; I buy it in 5 lbs bottles @ my health food store)in my wash for softening; and then keep 3 or 4 3-4 in. squares of aluminum foil in the dryer. (I tear off a 3-4 in. strip of heavy duty aluminum foil, then tear this into 3 or 4 pieces.) I just toss them all in on top of the wet clothes and run the dryer. The foil does tend to ball up, and I used to open the balls back up for each load, but now I just toss them in. They last for quite a while before they start to break down, and you start over with a new strip.

    As the aluminum starts to get older, it’s not quite as effective, but easily solved by switching the pieces out, or putting more in. I find that this method pretty much eliminated static cling in my laundry. If I happen to have a lot of nylon in a load, there might be a bit of static crackle when first removing clothes from the dryer, but nothing to cause any trouble.

    • Stacy

      I have been wondering if I got a humidifier for my home if it would cut down on the amount of static all over the place…since you live out west and in a high elevation, do you think this would help? You probably have experience. :-)

      • Cheryl

        Stacy,
        I think a humidifier would help considerably in the house (altho’ not sure it will do much for the dryer ;) ). Lots of folks out here have a whole house humidifier that is combined with their blown air heater (why we don’t use radiant heat out here beats me!!). Once my folks got their’s installed it made things much more comfortable in the house in the wintertime.

        • Stacy

          I hope to also have a wood stove in our new home….so a humidifier seems like a MUST HAVE.

    • Kalista

      I was going to suggest the same thing with the aluminum foil. It works wonders on static cling! If you use foil for other things, even to cover food dishes, you can often reuse the foil as long as it’s not really messy. If it’s only wet from condensation just let it air dry, then reuse in the laundry. If there’s a small amount of something it can often be wiped off and still used.

      • Stacy

        My mom always reuses foil. :-)

  • Erin

    That is a really cool idea… I have never really had problems with static. I don’t wear clothes that are less than 95% cotton or other natural fibers due to a deep fear of them melting to me. :/
    But when I met my boyfriend, I was shocked. He uses a dryer bar, and a sheet, and has to use that spray stuff some times.. He does not understand my reasoning to not use chemicals too much (hes starting to not want to eat super processed food tho).
    I realized he has the problems due to the 50/50 tshirts he wears, and the silky basketball p.j. shorts.. When I do his laundry I hang that stuff over a hanger cause those ‘fibers’ don’t hold any water.. No more lightning storm while folding :)
    -Erin

    • Stacy

      My sister wears the same type of clothing. LOL

  • Deborah Holman

    I have been hanging my clothes out this winter? and they are doing great. I have used tennis balls without any color left behind on clothes when I have used the dryer. Look out for pretty days.

    • Stacy

      During our winters some days only get about 40. I’ve tried hanging them out then, starting in the early morning, but they still aren’t dry by dark. :-( If we had a wood stove, I”d hang them inside. ;-)

  • http://www.ashleywrahar.blogspot.com ashley

    Hi Stacy!

    I just found you yesterday on Keeper of the Home…great post! You appealed to me because I am trying to switch over to more natural cleaning and food products, and can get overwhelmed very easily. I also was just commenting that I’d like to find a blog about natural medicinal remedies and you mentioned that in your guest post.
    Anyway, I just made my first batch of dishwasher detergent and am trying a powdered laundry detergent today. I’m interested in where you get the essential oils and if ther is a brand that you like. I looked at wal-mart last night but all I found were the oils you use to burn incense…that isn’t what you use, is it?
    Keep up the good writing! I look forward to learning more on your site!
    Ashley

    • Stacy

      Essential oils are great! You’ll usually find them at health food stores and craft stores…but they can be pricey there. I think that Vitacost (www.stacymakescents.com/use-vitacost-for-better-deals) has the best deals on them. This is my favorite brand – http://www.vitacost.com/Aura-Cacia-Essential-Oil-Sweet-Orange.
      I would say I’ve bought about 75% of my oils from Vitacost. The others I just purchased at Earth Fare, which was dumb because they were EXPENSIVE. :-) Let me know if I can do anything at all to help you!

  • http://fallingforpieces.wordpress.com Jill

    I have a vast collection of old sweaters for felting. Pretty sure I’ll be making some dryer balls tonight! Thanks for the great idea.

    • Stacy

      I have some too….somewhere. But I think they got packed up in the move. :-)

  • Donna

    Perfect timing! I just ran out of dryer sheets tonight, though I’ve been using them sparingly… I’ve been trying to go more natural too, and knew I’d have to go Googling. Then I just happened to run across this post… right after the one for homemade yeast bread using your stand mixer. My hubby & I were just discussing needing to find a recipe for that the other night.
    It’s like your blog is reading my mind! Love it!

    • Stacy

      :-) That’s great! Let me know if I can answer anything else for ya.

  • http://homemakerhow-tos.blogspot.com/ Kayla

    In my quest for more natural and economical options I read somewhere about putting 2 safety pins on a towel and tossing it in like a dryer sheet to soften clothes and eliminate static. I don’t recall having any problems with static since I’ve started using this method. Maybe try add a safety pin to two of the wool balls and see if that helps. The aluminum idea kinda scares me. So this might be another option if you feel the same way. I haven’t had any issues with safety pins rusting either so no worries there. Hope this helps!

    • Stacy

      I tried the safety pin thing….for some reason, it didn’t work for me. :-( I’m so glad it works for you though!!

  • Jamie Garcia

    I’m semi-”allergic” to wool, I get a little red if I wear it a long time. I wonder if these would bother me somehow…? One way to find out! :D

    • Stacy

      I wouldn’t think so…..since they just bounce around in there – but I might be wrong. I’ve been wrong a lot before. LOL

  • http://www.teachwithgames.com Chris

    This etsy source was out of stock last week 2/2013, but I found and bought them from WoolyDryerBalls a set of 4 — $15 free shipping. Score! They arrived quickly with a cheerful thank-you note from a grateful, stay at home mom of an 11 month old.
    If your source is out of stock I recommend this girl.

    • Stacy

      Thanks for passing that along, Chris!

  • Margaret

    I love your blog, I use aluminum foil or white vinegar depends on what I find at the salvage store…I love to dry my clothes inside by the wood stove it humidifies the air and saves electricity… we have heated with wood for 32 years and love our stove,so you out there wishing for a wood stove hang in there its worth it.Thanks again for all the good advice I am the grandmom of 7 so a little past where most of you are but I love hearing that people are living frugaly and enjoying it..

    • Stacy

      We don’t run our wood stove every day, but I do enjoy when we do. :-)

  • Rose C

    It’s funny you post this as I am making some of these this weekend. I am going to give it a whirl. I have 4 started and need to felt them and wrap and felt them again. Can’t wait to see how the work for my family.

    • Stacy

      I need to learn how to felt.

  • sash

    Hello! Bought the crockpot e book but how do I download it? I can’t find it. I purchased on my phone and wanted to get on my computer later and download it but no idea where it’s at? Advice?

    • Barry

      You should get an email with the download link. It will come to the email address you have on file with paypal since that’s how you paid.

  • Carolyn Johnson

    I just read that if you put a sheet of aluminum foil in the dryer with your clothes, it will eliminate static. I haven’t tried it yet, but you could reuse this sheet over and over so why not try it?

    • Stacy

      :-( I tried it and it didn’t work. Booooooo!

  • Margaret Ham

    I saw a blog post where a lady got 100% will sweaters from the trift store and unraveled the sweater and then made them into balls…I was actually just thinking about it while doing laundry…

    • Stacy

      I’ve done that, but to make diaper covers. :-)