Dryer sheets add fragrance, reduce static cling, and add softness to fabrics when tossed in the dryer with a load of wet laundry. The debate over how many sheets you should use per load depends on several factors.
- The size of the laundry load
- The amount of fragrance you desire
- The severity of static cling (humidity levels makes a huge difference)
- Whether the clothes are covered with pet hair
Most dryer sheet manufacturers recommend adding one sheet for small to average-sized loads and two sheets for average to large loads. If you have a large capacity washer and dryer or using a large capacity dryer at a laundromat, you may wish to add three dryer sheets.
How to Properly Use a Dryer Sheet
When clothes are removed from the washer, give each item a quick shake to help reduce wrinkles and separate any pieces that are stuck together. When all of the wet laundry is loaded into the dryer, add the dryer sheet on top of the load.
Adding the dryer sheet last usually helps it circulate freely in the dryer without getting caught between garments. Avoid overloading the dryer for best results. If the sheets get stuck in one spot for too long, the coating on the dryer sheet melts and leaves stains on clothes.
When a load of laundry is dry, always remove the dryer sheet from the dryer. Dryer sheets can become stuck in the lint filter or over a vent. This prevents proper airflow and causes the dryer to overheat. Dispose of the sheets properly to keep them away from children and pets.
Cats and dogs seem to be fascinated by a dryer sheet; perhaps it is the movement of the lightweight fabric floating along the floor. Whether the sheet is new or used, the ingredients on dryer sheets can make dogs and cats quite ill and even cause intestinal blockages if ingested. Always store dryer sheets in a safe place and dispose of them in a closed trash container.
When You Should Not Use a Dryer Sheet
Most dryer sheets are made from non-woven synthetic fabrics that cannot be recycled. The fabric is then coated with a silicone oil-based fabric softener or a quaternary ammonium salt. While there are unscented dryer sheets, most have fragrances added to the coating. The heat of the dryer softens the coating allowing it to transfer to the surface of fabrics. It is this coating that makes clothes feel softer to the touch, reduces static cling, helps loosen pet hair, and adds scent.
Dryer sheets should never be used on these certain types of fabric and garments:
- Microfiber and athleticwear: The coating on most dryer sheets affects the moisture-wicking qualities of microfiber towels, bedding, sports uniforms, and workout clothes. Choose one like Hex Performance Wet Dryer Sheets that reduce static cling without leaving a waxy coating.
- Bath towels: After multiple trips through the dryer with dryer sheets, bath towels become less absorbent. While dryer sheets do make the towels soft, the coating builds up on the fibers so the towels will not absorb water well.
- Children's pajamas: Dryer sheets also affect the self-extinguishing ability of flame-resistant clothing. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission requires that children’s sleepwear must be flame resistant and self-extinguish if a flame causes it to catch fire. The rules cover all children’s sleepwear above size 9 months and up to size 14.
- Water-repellent fabrics: The chemicals released by dryer sheets can cause water-repellent fabrics of raingear, snow pants, and ski jackets to lose their ability to repel water.
Dryer Sheets and Dryer Maintenance
The use of dryer sheets won't permanently damage your dryer, but they may affect its operating efficiency. Almost all dryers use an electronic moisture sensor embedded in the dryer drum to turn off the cycle when the load is dry.
Dryer sheets coat the electronic moisture sensor with chemical residue. The coating prevents the sensor from working correctly and can cause your clothing to overdry. If you use dryer sheets, locate the sensor and use a cotton ball or swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to clean it once a month.
The residue from dryer sheets can also clog the lint filter screen reducing air circulation that can cause a dryer to overheat. The lint filter screen should be deep cleaned at least monthly by rinsing it in very hot water and scrubbing the screen with a nylon-bristled brush to remove the residue.