Are Dryer Sheets Bad? 5 Reasons to Avoid Them

Register Appliance
May 6, 2024
Dryer Repair

Dryer sheets are marketed as a solution to clingy, static-filled clothing. They claim to make your clothes softer and infuse your laundry with a scent. 

But what about the downsides? Despite their so-called benefits, dryer sheets have some serious drawbacks that will have you questioning whether you should avoid them altogether. 

There are plenty of reasons not to use them, ranging from damage to your clothing to containing potentially harmful chemicals. We break down the five main reasons to avoid dryer sheets, and also take a look at some safer alternatives.

Reason 1 – Harmful Ingredients

They may smell like flowers, but dryer sheets are anything but natural! Most varieties use artificial fragrances that have been found to be harmful to human health in high quantities. These fragrances can include known carcinogens such as chloroform, as well as phthalates, which have been found to disrupt hormones. Some of these chemicals can be absorbed by the skin, causing skin issues such as eczema. The fragrances can even cause respiratory problems like asthma in children and adults. 

Some ingredients in artificial fragrances are known as ‘forever chemicals,’ which means they can last for many years, or even forever, in human bodies. The health effects are unknown, but it doesn’t sound like something you would want to risk!

Reason 2 – Bad for the Environment

Another downside of dryer sheets is that they’re not very environmentally friendly. At a time when many people are trying to avoid single-use items, dryer sheets are unfortunately destined for landfill. They’re typically made of polyester, so they’re not biodegradable, and they’re not recyclable either. 

On top of that, the chemicals and fragrances used may be damaging to the atmosphere and the water supply. When you heat the dryer sheets during the drying cycle, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are released into the atmosphere, contributing to air pollution. 

When you later wash your clothes, these chemicals are transferred to the wastewater. Because these chemicals don’t break down, they can end up in the water supply, causing damage to aquatic animals and damaging ecosystems. No thanks!

Reason 3 – Damage to Your Clothes

Have you ever wondered how dryer sheets actually make your clothes so smooth? You might be shocked! What’s happening is that the sheets are coating your clothes in a thin layer of waxy chemicals. While this initially makes your clothes feel softer and prevents static, it’s not good for your clothes over time. 

For one, this residue can build up after repeated use of dryer sheets. This results in your clothes becoming less absorbent, which is especially bad for towels and workout clothes! The chemical buildup can also trap sweat and bacteria, causing unpleasant odors that are hard to get rid of. 

Lastly, the chemicals can even degrade the fibers of your clothes over time, meaning your clothes don’t last as long as they should. All the more reason to say no to dryer sheets!

Reason 4 – Damage to Your Dryer

Just like dryer sheets can cause a waxy layer to build up on your clothes, this same residue can build up on the inside of your dryer. This can clog the lint filter, which inhibits airflow. This doesn’t just mean your dryer performs less efficiently, but it can also be dangerous! Restricted airflow can lead to your dryer overheating, increasing the risk of fires. Not to mention, it increases energy consumption and reduces your dryer’s lifespan. 

If your dryer has a moisture detector that stops the cycle once your clothes are dry, the dryer sheets can also cause issues. The waxy coating means the moisture detector doesn’t work properly, causing the dryer to either stop prematurely or dry for too long. 

In fact, dryer sheets can be so damaging to a dryer’s interior that some manufacturers stipulate that the use of dryer sheets will void the warranty! Enough said!

Reason 5 – Costly 

Last but not least, dryer sheets are costly! With the rising cost of living, there’s no reason to add unnecessary expenses to our everyday routines. While each individual dryer sheet may not be very expensive, the costs definitely add up—particularly if you live in a large household that does multiple loads of laundry every week. 

The dryer sheets are not the only cost, either—the wear and tear on clothes means you’ll be replacing your wardrobe more often. The dryer sheets can also damage the dryer itself, meaning it may need to be replaced sooner than it should. In short, if you use dryer sheets, you’re essentially paying to cause damage to your dryer and clothes! Time to start looking for alternatives!

Better Alternatives to Dryer Sheets

If you miss the softness and pleasant scent that dryer sheets bring to your laundry, try one of these safer alternatives!

Dryer balls

Wool or rubber dryer balls are the perfect, eco-friendly alternative to dryer sheets. They agitate the clothes while drying, smoothing the fibers and making them feel softer. They also shorten the drying time, which reduces your electric bill!


Did you know that vinegar is a natural fabric softener? Just add half a cup during the rinse cycle of your washing machine for eco-friendly, soft clothes. 

Baking soda

Baking soda also naturally softens your clothes and is a natural deodorizer. Add a scoop during the rinse cycle to reap the non-toxic benefits!

Essential oils

If you’re missing the scent that dryer sheets impart onto your clothes, try adding a couple of drops of essential oil to your dryer. You can choose the scent, and best of all, it’s all natural!

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