Dryer sheets aren't just for laundry anymore! Of course, the main purpose of dryer sheets is still add a bit of softness and help reduce static in fabrics when tossed in the dryer, but they can do much, much more.
There are two types of dryer sheets formats on market shelves. One is manufactured with a polyester substrate non-woven base and the other has a cellulose base that can be recycled as a paper product. Both are coated with silicone-based fabric softeners that transfer to your clothes when activated by heat. The polyester-based sheets are best for scrubbing and pet hair removal.
Dryer sheets can be found in scented and unscented varieties. Pick your favorite scent for the freshening hacks. You can use the unscented varieties for other tasks. Price is not a factor so grab a box of the bargain brands for household tasks.
Some environmental groups have raised concerns about fragranced laundry products, but studies show few problems with use. If you are concerned about your dryer sheets, we suggest switching to unscented or all-natural products as an alternative.
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Scrub Away Stuck-on Food from Pots and Pans
If you have baked-on or stuck-on food in a pot or pan, place an unused non-woven polyester dryer sheet in the pan and fill it with hot water. Allow the pan to soak overnight. The silicone coating on the dryer sheet will help soften the food. The next morning, use the dryer sheet to wipe away the food. The slight texture of the polyester woven sheet will remove the traces of food and won't harm the finish of non-stick surfaces.
Finish the task by washing the pot or pan with dishwashing detergent and hot water to remove any remaining residue.
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Calm Your Pet During a Storm
Rubbing your pet's coat with an unscented, plant-based dryer sheet will help calm him during electrical storms by reducing static electricity that can cause his hair to stand on end. Since most animals lick their own fur, stay away from dryer sheets that contain ingredients that can be toxic to your pet (stick to unscented).
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Lift Away Pet Hair from Clothes and Furniture
The same properties that allow dryer sheets to reduce static in the dryer will remove pet hair from clothes and furniture. Just rub the sheet over the fabric to loosen the hair. Follow up with a lint roller or clothes brush.
The dryer sheet can be new or used. Used dryer sheets can be dampened slightly to remove dust and hair from ceiling fan blades, shelves, books, window screens, and even large leaves on indoor plants.
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Freshen Stinky Shoes and Quiet Squeaky Soles
Tennis shoes can get really dirty and really smelly. Add a dryer sheet to shoes and boots that have gotten a little too ripe. For kids' shoes or ladies' pumps, you can cut each sheet in half and still get great results.
Squeaky shoes driving you crazy? Dryer sheets also work to quiet squeaky rubber soles when walking on solid floors. Rub the bottom of the shoes with a dryer sheet and the residue will minimize the friction and get rid of the squeak.Continue to 5 of 16 below.
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Get Rid of Embarrassing Static Cling
I don't know which is worse, socks or panties stuck to your clothes or your pants creeping up and clinging to your calf.
If you often get caught with your socks clinging to your shirt, use fabric softener or a dryer sheet in the laundry room to reduce static cling.
If it is the latter, one way to remove static cling quickly is to rub a dryer sheet directly onto your legs, socks, or tights to get rid of static cling. No more riding up.
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Make Needlework and Sewing Easier
No need to get frustrated over threads that knot up while you stitch. When you are ready to start hand sewing or doing needlework, run the thread between a folded dryer sheet to keep it tangle-free. The silicon coating will help the thread ease its way smoothly through the fabric.
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Freshen Luggage and Gym Bags
Before you put away your luggage after a trip, tuck in a dryer sheet to add a fresh scent and prevent musty odors. If your gym bag isn't used too often, the same trick works there; but only if you remove any smelly workout clothes first.
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Clean Electronics Screens
Use a dry dryer sheet to dust television and computer monitor screens. The silicon coating on the dryer sheet will pick up dust and help to reduce static. Remember, never use a dryer sheet that is already dampened. The moisture can harm screens.Continue to 9 of 16 below.
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Remove Gunk from a Dryer Drum or Iron
If you find melted gum, crayons, or adhesive stickers in the dryer, wet a non-woven polyester dryer sheet and scrub away. You'll find that the fabric softener and the texture of the sheet will help loosen the stickiness without harming the interior finish.
While a dryer sheet can't clean the inside of an iron, the same technique will work on the bottom of your iron to remove scorch marks and starch or sizing build-up. Rub the dampened dryer sheet on the bottom of a cold iron. Then heat the iron to a low setting and run it over a couple of clean paper towels to remove any remaining residue.
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Freshen a Trash Can
Put a scented dryer sheet in the bottom of each trash can in your home before you add the plastic liner bag. Your trash never smelled so sweet.
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Clean Your Car
Keep some polyester non-woven dryer sheets in your car cleaning kit to use for insect removal. Wet the sheet and use it to remove bugs from your windshield and the front grille. The fabric is abrasive enough to scrub away the insects but not so harsh as to damage the finish.
You can also use a dryer sheet to remove pet hair from car seats. Plus, keeping dryer sheets in the trunk keeps it smelling fresher.
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Create Bug Repellent
Some campers and outdoor enthusiasts swear by scented dryer sheets to keep insects away. Some hikers rub the sheets on their skin, others tuck the sheets into the tops of socks or collars. Just choose a scent you like and see if you're bug-free.Continue to 13 of 16 below.
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Tame Flyaway Hair
Keep a few dryer sheets in your desk or purse to calm flyaway hair. Just rub the sheet over your hair to smooth it out. Opt for an unscented variety if you don't want it to compete with your perfume.
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Shoo Deer Away from Plants
Cut scented dryer sheets into one-inch strips and tie them on the tips of greenery or in trees. The scent will repel plant-munching deer. Choose a polyester non-woven base to avoid melting during wet weather.
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Freshen a Hotel Room
If your hotel room smells stale, place a dryer sheet in the air conditioning/heating vent for a quick air freshener. Take it with you when you leave and your soiled laundry will be a bit fresher for the trip home.
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Make a Wreath
If you are crafty, use dryer sheets to make a wreath for your laundry room or even to greet guests at the front door! You'll need 80-100 used dryer sheets to make a lush, full wreath. These can be saved for a couple of months after every load of laundry or you can soften up a new batch by placing them in a mesh laundry bag. Toss the bag in the dryer with several old wet towels. Allow the towels to dry on high heat for at least 15 minutes and the dryer sheets are ready to be used for wreath-making.
Steinemann, A. Fragranced consumer products: exposures and effects from emissions. Air Qual Atmos Health 9, 861–866 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11869-016-0442-z