Can I recycle dryer sheets?
Laura D., Toledo, OH
Dryer sheets are usually made of thin polyester that’s been covered in a fabric softener chemical and fragrance chemicals. Unfortunately, the wispy polyester isn’t recyclable.
There are some brands such as Seventh Generation and Method that do make dryer sheets from unbleached paper. However, they typically contain essential oil, which smells great on your clothes but contaminates paper recycling. The good news is that essential oil (and paper) is safe to add to your compost pile..
This is probably a good opportunity to also talk about alternatives to these disposable dryer sheets. Besides being unfit for recycling, the chemicals on the polyester sheets can be an irritant to those with allergies or sensitive skin. Wool balls or even an old woolen sweater are safer bets that can be reused again and again. These dryer balls don’t contain toxic chemicals and perform the same functions as disposable sheets: they get rid of static cling and wrinkles, and soften clothes.
If you really like your dryer sheets or need to use up the ones you already have, it’s worth making them go further by reusing them before tossing them out. There are some pretty creative alternative uses to expended dryer sheets out there. Here are some of our favorites:
- Scrub dirty pots. Clean stubborn messes off dirty pots and pans by placing a dryer sheet on the bottom and letting it soak in water overnight.
- Remove pet hair. Wipe dryer sheets over rugs, furniture, clothing, or anywhere pet hair accumulates to quickly remove it.
- Deodorize garbage cans. Line the bottom of garbage cans with old dryer sheets. They'll help absorb leaks and odors when you switch bags.
- Repel bugs. Dryer sheets have insect-repelling properties; place them in the corners of rooms, on rafters, or anywhere you tend to see spider webs.
- Freshen your shoes. Stuff a dryer sheet into the toes of your shoes to minimize odors and prolong the just-purchased smell.