Why you should stop using Dryer Sheets (and what to do instead)

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that we try to live in a natural and sustainable way as much as possible. There are many reasons for this, from health to the environment, to finances.

Today I want to talk about one more area where you can make a very simple and cost-effective change that can have a big impact on your health and home (and save you money!).
fabric softener 2

Fabric softener. This is one of those things that was ingrained into me that you just need to use, but I recently discovered how bad they are for you!

I have a saying that I love about these types of things, “Know better. Do better.”

We can’t help our ignorance, but we can educate ourselves and then act upon that knowledge. So I wanted to share with you all a few of the reasons we have stopped using fabric softeners.

1. It negates the flame-resistant qualities of clothing

This is huge, and it’s something that most people don’t know about, even though it is posted in fine print everywhere regarding care instructions for flame-resistant garments.

There are some types of clothing (children’s sleepwear for one example) that are required to be flame-resistant. When you use fabric softener (liquid or dryer sheets), the residue from the fabric softener negates the flame-resistant qualities of the clothing. In addition that build up can actually make clothing more flammable! This is potentially very dangerous.

This is especially relevant to me since my husband is a wildland firefighter. No, his flame resistant Nomex aren’t the thing we’re hanging all of our hopes on with his safety, but I do want to give him every advantage possible.

See more information about other clothing types that can be damaged by fabric softeners.

2. It contains Toxic Chemicals

Fabric softeners contain a lot of chemicals that aren’t great for the environment or our health. I never really thought about this aspect of them until I developed MCS over the past couple of years after exposure to toxic mold. I now have a reaction (nausea, headaches, sometimes vertigo) to these chemicals. However, just because you don’t have an obvious reaction, doesn’t mean you’re unaffected. 

Our bodies are remarkably resilient in adapting to chemicals (and foods) that are bad for us, so you may not have an immediate obvious reaction to them. However, they can still cause long-term problems. Harmful chemicals should be avoided when possible and fabric softeners are full of them.

[Go here and here if you’d like more specific information about the toxic chemicals generally found in fabric softeners.]

In addition to this, fabric softeners can also cause harmful build up, both on clothing and in machines. Dryer sheets can reduce the life and efficiency of your dryer.

A Natural Alternative

You might be thinking, “this is all well and good, but I like my clothes soft!”

There is a very good alternative to traditional fabric softeners: Wool dryer balls!

Wool dryer balls:

  • are completely natural
  • reduce toxic load on you and your family
  • cost less per load than traditional fabric softeners
  • can be scented with any essential oil of your choice
  • do not harm your dryer
  • do not leave any build up
  • help you save energy costs by reducing drying time by up to 20%
  • last for 1,000 loads or more (no more running out of fabric softener!)

If you like the scent provided by softeners and dryer sheets, you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to the wool dryer balls. This one is formulated specifically for laundry and is perfect for use with dryer balls. It smells great too.

Try Wool Dryer Balls for FREE!

In an attempt to help you make this transition even easier, I have partnered with Mightynest to allow Serving Joyfully readers to try out their wool dryer balls for FREE! (A $17.99 value!)

Try Wool Dryer Balls for Free!

Right now you can get a set of 3 wool dryer balls from Mighty Nest for FREE (you pay just a discounted $3 shipping fee)! This is a great deal and makes it even more of a no-brainer to make this switch! That’s less than the cost of traditional fabric softener, and a perfect time to try them out if you’ve been thinking about it.

Click here to get your Dryer Balls. The dryer balls will be automatically added into your cart with the savings reflected when you click “subscribe.”

You will be enrolled in their monthly autoship program for just $10/mo, but you can cancel at any time to avoid being charged. You can also ship any other items for FREE with your delivery.

It should automatically reflect the deal, but if not you can use code DRYERFIX2017

fabric softener


  1. Sabrina says

    This is something I’ve been wondering about recently…mainly just so I can stop buying Downy. :-) Off to do more research

    • Crystal Brothers says

      I’m so sorry! I have no idea why it isn’t working because it’s working for me right now :( I’m working with the folks at MightyNest right now to try and get this fixed. Maybe try this link. It applied the discount automatically for me that way.

    • Crystal Brothers says

      I’m so sorry! I have no idea why it isn’t working because it’s working for me right now :( I’m working with the folks at MightyNest right now to try and get this fixed. Maybe try this link. It applied the discount automatically for me that way.

  2. Jennifer Mathesz says

    Code doesn’t work :( Also, I hang dry a lot of my clothes, so they wouldn’t be able to benefit from the dryer balls. Any recommendations for that?

    • Crystal Brothers says

      This is why I originally wasn’t going to try dryer balls as well! I’m so sorry the code isn’t working though. I’m chatting with them to see if we can get it fixed.

  3. says

    I’ve pretty much stopped using dryer sheets. Every once in a while I’ll use it because I love the smell but the rest of the time I let them dry without.

  4. says

    I just adore my dryer balls! I put a drop of lavendar essential oil on one ball each time I use them and store them in a very large glass jar. I also do a lot of line drying and there are some recipes out in the blogosphere for natural fabric softeners that work well – just google for them – some work (and smell) better than others, but that is subjective, so you will have to try them out for yourself.

    • Crystal Brothers says

      I have tried the natural softeners for the wash, but nothing has really made a difference for me. I’m glad it seems to work for some though! I, too, love my dryer balls.

  5. says

    Great informative post! I’ve been looking at wool dryer balls lately and now I think I need some! Sharing on Twitter. Thank you for sharing on Merry Monday! Have a great week!

    • Crystal Brothers says

      I have tried the vinegar thing and never noticed a difference. Maybe I need to try it again though b/c we, too, have very hard water.

  6. says

    I look using dryer balls as well. They did take a toll on the drum though. We had to have it repaired already. Now, we just aren’t using any added items in our dryer.

  7. Linda Manns Linneman says

    I did not know this about fabric softener or dryer sheets. Great to know this information. I use the dryer balls and they work great. Thank you so much for sharing

  8. K says

    I gave tried wool dryer balls for a couple of months. Not happy with the outcome. Clothes are still full of static, my family gets those little “shocks” when they out on their sweaters, and they are noisy in the dryer. My family asked me to go back to dryer sheets!

  9. Tonya Bailey says

    I’ve recently switched to using the wool dryer balls. I will put 3-5 drops of lavender essential oils on before tossing in the dryer, and the smell lasts 2-3 loads! I am very pleased. No static and clothes seem just as soft even bath towels!

I love to hear your feedback and value your thoughts! All I ask is that we remain respectful and civil, even when we disagree. Thanks so much for reading. I appreciate you!

Thank you for joining in the discussion!