how to make scented dryer sheets

How to Safely Make Your Own Scented Dryer Sheets and Wool Dryer Balls

DIY dryer sheets have become very popular in recent years as more people try to get away from store-bought dryer sheets. Whether you want to reduce your environmental impact, you dislike the scent of mass-produced dryer sheets, or are concerned about the ingredients in dryer sheets, you might be interested in trying to make your own DIY dryer balls or dryer sheets.

Making homemade dryer sheets and wool dryer balls might seem like a pretty straightforward project, but there are a few things you’ll want to consider. In this blog, we’ll cover the safety considerations of making dryer sheets with essential oils and fragrance oils, and we’ll talk about the best ways to make homemade dryer sheets that actually work.

Can you use essential oils in the dryer?

Many people are interested in making their own dryer sheets because they don’t want to use store-bought dryer sheets that are scented with fragrances. Instead, they prefer the idea of having dryer sheets scented with essential oils.

With natural and organic products booming in popularity over recent years, you might be wondering why it isn’t easy to find store-bought dryer sheets that are scented with essential oils. However, there’s probably a good reason for that.

It’s likely due to the fact that many essential oils have a very low flash point. If you’re unfamiliar with this term, an essential oil flash point is the temperature at which the vapor produced by the oil may ignite if exposed to a source of ignition. As with fragrance oil flash points, ignition is more likely to occur if the vapor emitted from the oil is in an enclosed vessel, and if there is enough vapor present.

So how does any of this relate to using essential oils in the dryer? Many essential oils have a flash point as low as 104° F to 124° F. Most clothes dryers reach temperatures between 125 and 135° F. However, the maximum heat output may be higher depending on the model of dryer or the setting used. Given the amount of friction that occurs as clothes tumble, it’s not uncommon for static electricity to build up, which can cause a spark.

In other words, a hot, static-prone clothes dryer can create an environment where the vapors from the essential oil may ignite if they were exposed to a spark of static electricity. If you were to only use a few drops of essential oil, there may not be enough vapor emitted from the oil to cause an issue. However, you should always err on the side of caution. It’s simply not safe to use any oil with a flash point that is lower than the maximum heat inside of your dryer.*

It's understandable if you’re confused about whether it’s safe to use essential oils in the dryer. There are dozens and dozens of online tutorials and DIY laundry tips that tell you to put a few drops of essential oils in with your laundry for a fresh, chemical-free scent. Like so many things on the internet, this idea has persisted despite being potentially unsafe. While the chance of causing a fire is low, and many people use essential oils in the dryer without issues, we do not recommend it unless you carefully check the flash point first.

* Some essential oils do have a flash point that is high enough to use in the dryer. Always check what the flash point is before using an essential oil in the dryer. See more in the sections below. 

Can you use fragrance oils in the dryer?

If you’re freaked out by the idea of your dryer catching on fire, don’t worry. You don’t need to stop using dryer sheets. Store-bought dryer sheets are scented with fragrance oils, which tend to have a higher flash point than essential oils. We want to emphasize that some – not all – fragrance oils have a higher flash point compared to essential oils. Likewise, not all essential oils have a low flash point. The flash point varies for each oil.

With that being said, store-bought dryer sheets scented with fragrance oils do not pose the same fire risk as DIY dryer sheets scented with essential oils.

Can I make DIY dyer sheets with fragrances and essential oils?

Given that laundry product companies make scented dryer sheets, you might be wondering if you can make your own scented dryer sheets at home. This is a question we get fairly often! Most fragrance oils are fine to use in the dryer, provided that you follow some basic safety considerations:

  • You must choose a fragrance oil that has a flash point higher than the temperature of your clothes dryer. In other words, if your dryer reaches a maximum temp of 135° F, then you should only choose fragrances with a flash point greater than 135° F. Flash point information is provided for each individual fragrance oil.
  • It’s wise to check the actual internal temperature of your clothes dryer rather than relying on the instruction manual that came with your dryer. The actual temperature inside your dryer could potentially be hotter than the manufacturer says. You can do this by pausing your dryer mid-cycle and using a thermometer to check the temperature of your clothes or the ambient interior temp.
  • You only want to use a small amount of fragrance when making your own dryer sheets. Using too much fragrance oil can leave oily residue on your clothing, potentially staining it.
  • Only use skin-safe fragrance oils. Check the IFRA statement for the fragrance oil to determine if it is skin-safe.

How to Make Dryer Sheets

There are a few different ways to make your own scented dryer sheets. The easiest method is to simply put a few drops of safe fragrance oil onto a cloth and let it dry completely (see section above for choosing a safe fragrance). The cloth can then be tossed in the dryer with your clothing. The best part is that the cloth can be reused again and again. Simply add a few drops of fragrance whenever it needs a refresh. Be sure to always let the oil dry before putting the cloth in the dryer.

Another popular method is to make a jar of ready-to-use dryer sheets following these steps:

  • Cut up a clean terrycloth towel into approximately 6” squares. This is a great way to repurpose an old towel.
  • Place the towel squares in a jar with an airtight lid. You can fold them beforehand if desired.
  • Mix 2 parts vinegar, 1 part distilled water and a few drops of fragrance oil. Stir the mixture to help it combine.
  • Pour the mixture into the jar. You’ll want enough mixture to saturate the towels, but they do not need to be soaked in the liquid.
  • To use, grab a towel from the jar and wring out any excess liquid. You want the towel to be damp but not dripping. Place the towel in your dryer with your clothes and run a cycle as you normally would.

How to Make Scented Wool Dryer Balls

Homemade dryer sheets with vinegar work well for softening your clothes, but they don’t necessarily address issues with static cling. One of the most popular ways to prevent static in the dryer is to use wool dryer balls.

A wool dryer ball is simply a ball of felted wool. It is placed in the dryer with your clothes. During the drying cycle, the ball fluffs your clothing and helps reduce static. Because dryer balls fluff your clothing up, they can also help clothes dry faster. A shorter drying cycle is good news for your energy bill and the environment!

Wool dryer balls have become very popular in recent years, meaning you can buy them just about anywhere. However, most dryer balls are unscented. If you want to make scented dryer balls, simply add a few drops of safe fragrance oil and let is dry completely (see section above for choosing a safe fragrance). Once the fragrance is dry, throw the dryer ball in with your clothes and run a dry cycle as you normally would.

Just like dryer sheets, we do not recommend putting essential oils on wool dryer balls unless you know the flash point. Always check first. If the flash point is high enough, you can use essential oils just like fragrance oils.

Why make your own dryer sheets?

Commercially made dryer sheets have caught a lot of flack in recent years because of claims that they contain harsh chemicals. While it’s not entirely true that dryer sheets are full of toxic chemicals, many people still choose to make their own.

One benefit of making your own dryer sheets is that it’s super easy, and may help you save money if you’re using materials you already have around the home.

However, the best reason to make your own dryer sheets is that you can control everything you put in them. Unlike a lot of fragrances used in commercially-made products, NorthWood fragrance oils are all phthalate free. Using our fragrances is an easy way to avoid phthalates in your laundry products.

On top of that, you can also choose the exact fragrance that you want to make a completely customized dryer sheet. We have more than 400 fragrances to choose from!

How to Make Your Clothes Smell Good Without Dryer Sheets

People use dryer sheets because they soften clothes and make them smell good. However, dryer sheets aren’t the only way to make your clothing smell fresh! In most cases, the smell from dryer sheets dissipates relatively quickly anyway, meaning your clothes probably only retain the fragrance for a few hours after they’re folded.

An easy way to keep your clothes smelling fresh is to make an aroma bead air-freshening sachet to keep in your closet or drawers. Simply make some aroma beads following this easy tutorial, then add the beads to a muslin drawstring bag. The bag can be hung in your closet or placed in a drawer.

Keep in mind that even after the oils have absorbed into the beads, they can potentially leave a slight residue – even through the material of a muslin bag. To prevent damage to your drawers or clothing, don’t place a bag of aroma beads directly onto a porous surface (like wood or cloth). Instead of putting the bag in a wood drawer, for example, use a vinyl drawer liner.

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1 comment

I buy a bottle of Dollar Tree fragrance beads (found with cleaning supplies), store the dryer balls in an enclosed plastic container with about 1/2 cup of the beads. Shake thoroughly, after each use.

Debra Brewer

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