Thursday, March 8, 2012

Homemade Dryer Sheets

In a perfect world, my dryer would be unplugged full-time. For now it gets a May-October vacation. (Weather permitting.) When the sun is shining the laundry dries on a clothesline. When it's raining, we have indoor racks to hang our wet clothing on. But with 11 people in the house and only so much floor space (we even have suspended racks from the ceiling), the dryer gets it's fair share of service.

A couple of years ago, we switched our chemical-laden fabric softener for white vinegar, but I've had a difficult time parting with the dryer sheets. Yes, I use a "natural" brand from the health food store, but these are expensive and too easy to leave off my grocery list. Sadly, sometimes I succumb to the pleasing aroma of vanilla & lavender wafting down the laundry aisle.

Not anymore.

A couple of weeks ago my middle son decided to help me out by throwing in a load of laundry on his own. Never mind that this son has never washed a load of laundry in his life, he wanted to help. (I'm finding myself gritting my teeth as I type this~the memory is still too fresh!) This helpful son placed 12 pairs of jeans (12!!!) in the washer, went downstairs and grabbed an unopened bottle of store-bought detergent, filled the soap dispenser with the highly scented detergent, added Oxy-Clean, then filled the fabric softener dispenser with the same smelly liquid detergent before turning the machine onto the delicate cycle.

Here's what went wrong.

1. Our washing machine holds 6 or 7 pairs of full-size jeans, tops. Any more than that, the machine doesn't agitate. He knows this as the washer repairman knows us by our Christian names. All of us.

2. I make all of our laundry soap, which sits right next to the washing machine. You know what it is by the sign on the front that says "Laundry". BTW, up til now I thought my son could read.

3. The store-bought laundry detergent has been down in our garage for 2-1/2 years. Yes, years. Never opened, and hidden behind the Murphy's Oil Soap...buried under 2-1/2 years worth of garage dust.

4. There is a "How to do laundry" page taped to the cabinet door above the homemade laundry soap. For jeans it says, "No more than 6 pairs of jeans at a time. Always wash on warm. Press the heavy duty button. NO FABRIC SOFTENER EVER."

About 10 minutes after my son started the load of jeans, the family (who was watching t.v.) started complaining of headaches and sore throats. I kept sniffing the air and asking who fell into the perfume bottle. We traced the source of smell back to the laundry room and the machine that had bubbles about to spew like a volcano erupting.

I realized two things that evening.

1. The chemicals in laundry products are toxic. Once we found the source, opened the windows, and rinsed the now 2 loads of blue jeans, the headaches and sore throats disappeared. So did the bubbles.

2. My son can't read as well as I thought.

So now the store-bought laundry products are lying in the garbage can, destined for the local landfill. I wish there were some other place for them, but that's the best place I could come up with. My laundry soap can is newly filled and my supply of vinegar has been replenished. And the dryer sheets that I had already run out of? I now have an unlimited supply of reusable, non-toxic, and scented to my perfection dryer sheets. And I didn't pay a dime for them.

Here's how~

Cut an old cotton towel into strips 4-6 inches wide. Pinking shears work best.

Not pinking shears here~I'm a quick learner and switched over after the first strip.

 Cut the strips into squares. I ended up with about 25 squares.

No need to cut the selvaged edges.

To use: Add 3-4 drops of favorite essential oil to cloth. Toss in dryer.

 Homemade dryer sheets can be used up to 3 times before they need to be thrown in the washer. Just refresh with more drops of oil. My favorites are lemon, lavender, and grapefruit. Smells like summer, even if I do have to resort to using the dryer.☺

Emmie and her attempt at becoming a real-life Smurf.
Looks like it's time for another load to go in...

This post is linked to The Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop.

Since I started using this method, I've found that these work much better when the dryer sheet is wet. Add the essential oil to the wet towel, then toss in the dryer. I still love these!!



I enjoyed reading this today. I have seen instructions for making laundry detergent on a lot of blogs..Do you have your instructions on here? I would love to know it. Thanks,
I now follow you fellow farmgirl sister

Kim said...

Hi Dolly! I just added the link to this post but here it is too~

Guess I got a little side-tracked...:)

Thank you for stopping by!

Michelle said...

I am so laughing right now. This brings back memories. My twin daughter ( they were 9 ) sent my machine dancing across the floor. They decided to wash they stuffed animals and they animal rugs. They just punch the start button. So I didn't have to worry about soap. We were doing the same thing as you ,watching TV. All of a sudden we hear a load banging from the laundry room. My husband ran to the laundry room. The twins ran up stairs. I never saw my girls move so fast!

Candy C. said...

I love the way you make even a "bad" situation comical! My hubby has a tendency to overload the washer with jeans too, he crams them in!
I like your homemade dryer sheets! I have some really, really cheap washcloths I bought for goat udder washing while milking that I think I will convert to dryer sheets. ;-)

Heather's Blog-o-rama said...

I found your blog post via the Farmgril Friday blog hop. I don't like using dryer sheets, but my aunt does. She's obsessed with things smelling good. So this would be a nice alternative to the store-bought ones. Besides, i LOVE lemon essential I might try that. Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

Missy Shay said...

I have th0ought of doing something similar, but my main concern is static cling. How do you prevent that? thanks!

Kim said...

Michelle~Funny how fast kids can move when they're in self-preservation mode, but not so fast when they're in dishwashing mode!

Candy~It took a few days for me to see the humorous side of this!

Heather~Lemon is my favorite! It smells so fresh! Thanks for stopping by!

Missy Shay~I haven't noticed any static cling. I have noticed that my Mister's scrubs (he's a nurse) don't have the little fuzzies that sometimes stick to his black ones. Thanks for stopping by!

Unknown said...

I make my softener sheets almost the same way, only I use old wash clothes. What a comical story, thanks for sharing. :)

Susan said...

I was snorting right after the 12 pairs of jeans bit!~ At least he is thorough - no dispenser was left unfilled! I only use the dryer with my flannel sheets but I am very psyched over these homemade dryer sheets -- brilliant!