Laundry that is fresh out of the dryer should be so inviting that you want to bury your face in it and inhale its clean fragrance. The right dryer sheet can make all the difference in how fragrant, fluffy, and soft your clothes are when they’re warm and straight out of the dryer.
In the late 1960s, a chemist who wanted to create an easier way of softening laundry developed what he called Tumble Puffs, which are modern-day dryer sheets. Since their introduction, dryer sheets have come a long way. Today, the best dryer sheets offer three main advantages: They soften your clothes, rid them of static, and leave them smelling pleasant and fresh. Whether the goal is to soften a baby’s laundry or to infuse clothing with alluring scents, we’ve found some of the best dryer sheets for you.
- BEST OVERALL: Snuggle Fabric Softener Dryer Sheets
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Downy Fabric Softener Dryer Sheets
- BEST NATURAL: Love Home and Planet Dryer Sheets
- BEST SMELLING: Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Dryer Sheets
- BEST FOR BABY: Grab Green Natural Newborn Baby Laundry Dryer Sheets
- BEST FOR SENSITIVE SKIN: all Fabric Softener Dryer Sheets for Sensitive Skin
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Dryer Sheets
Grab your laundry basket or hamper and get ready to make your dirty clothes clean and soft again. We all have different needs and preferences when it comes to laundry requirements, but to our minds the right dryer sheets have just the right amount of fragrance, help remove static, and make your laundry soft and fluffy. Here are some factors to think about when selecting the best dryer sheets for your household.
There are a few different types of fabric sheets, including disposable, compostable, and reusable.
- Disposable dryer sheets are usually squares that are made of a wispy, nonwoven polyester that is coated with liquid softeners, lubricants, and fragrances. These are the most common variety of dryer sheets. They are meant to be used once and then thrown away.
- Compostable dryer sheets are made from plant-based materials, such as unbleached paper, and infused with essential oils to scent your laundry.
- Reusable dryer sheets are typically made from chemical-free poly-nylon and can be used for a few hundred loads of laundry before you have to replace them. They may not be as effective as the first options when it comes to softening your laundry, minimizing static, and boosting fragrance, but they generate less waste.
Natural vs. Synthetic
Natural dryer sheets are generally made of rayon or paper that’s coated in essential oils for fragrance. These dryer sheets are usually compostable and free of the chemical scents and dyes used in synthetic dryer sheets. In the U.S., neither the FDA nor USDA have regulations in place for products labeled “natural,” so buyer beware. A tip-off that dryer sheets are likely made from plant or mineral-based products is that it will be described as biodegradable or compostable. When in doubt, if you want to ensure you’re using a natural product, opt for wool dryer balls infused with essential oils.
Synthetic dryer sheets are generally made from polyester and are coated in chemical compounds that treat the soft and static-free laundry you enjoy. Every brand of dryer sheets has its own proprietary formulation but overall, their ingredients are roughly the same. Typical ingredients include a softening and anti-static agent, a fatty acid to soften clothes, a polyester substrate (the sheeting material), clay to help control how the coating melts in the dryer, and added fragrance.
Scent is an important factor in a dryer sheet—it’s how you and your clothes will smell as you go about your day, so you should pick a fragrance that speaks to you. Unless you buy unscented dryer sheets, you’ll find that most manufacturers infuse their products with fragrances, usually inspired by florals or the outdoors, that can survive the dryer’s high temperatures and transform your laundry. Lavender is a popular scent because it’s relaxing. In aromatherapy, lavender is also known to have antibacterial properties, which is a positive association for a laundry brand. Other scents that are popular for dryer sheets include linen, citrus, chamomile, and atmospheric scents that are inspired by rain or mountain air.
Laundry detergents, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets can cause some people to break out in rashes or otherwise irritate their skin. When dryer sheets are heated, they release chemicals and fragrances that can aggravate allergies or trigger flare-ups in those with sensitivities. Sensitive skin issues for adults, such as dermatitis, include rashes, bumps, itching, and tender skin.
Because dryer sheet manufacturers are not required to disclose all their ingredients, those who use these products won’t always know whether they’re allergic to them. This is why many dryer sheet manufacturers make dye- and fragrance-free products that are specially formulated for people with sensitive skin; most skin sensitivities are caused by the fragrances and dyes used in these products. Dryer sheets that are designed for sensitive skin are dermatologist tested and milder than other dryer sheets.
Because babies have delicate skin and can react negatively to chemicals in standard dryer sheets, some laundry product manufacturers also make dryer sheets that are specially formulated for babies.
Dryer sheets aren’t part of the laundry cleaning process (for that, you’ll want laundry detergents and stain removers). These sheets are part of the fabric softener family, and they’re intended to cut back on static, increase softness, and make your laundry smell good. After you transfer your clean, wet laundry into the dryer, place a sheet (or two, depending on how much laundry you’re drying) on top of the pile and start the dryer.
These sheets are coated with fabric softener that distributes over laundry as it heats in the dryer. When the dryer reaches a high temperature, the softener melts and transfers to the clothes in the dryer. Surfactant compounds in the dryer sheets use positive atoms to prevent static from forming.
Dryer sheets also serve other non-laundry functions, too. They can be used for dusting, keeping shoes or gym bags smelling fresh, polishing shoes, and deterring mosquitoes.
Our Top Picks
The best dryer sheets for your needs will depend on what you value in clean laundry, whether it’s environmental impact, a terrific fragrance, or a mild formulation that doesn’t exacerbate skin issues. With the above guidelines in mind, here are the top picks as some of the best dryer sheets on the market right now.
Snuggle fabric softener dryer sheets make your clothes, towels, and linens soft, static-free, and fragrant. Their signature Blue Sparkle scent is made from floral, green citrus, and woody notes that give a soft musk that smells clean and cozy. The odor-eliminating technology in Snuggle’s dryer sheets removes undesirable smells from your laundry, rather than masking them with fragrance.
Snuggle dryer sheets are safe for standard and high-efficiency (HE) dryers. Use one sheet for regular-size loads of laundry and add a second sheet if you’re washing an oversize load. There are plenty of other places you can leave these dryer sheets, including closets, suitcases, and cars to make them smell fresh. Keep a spare sheet with you when you’re on the go to tame static cling that happens out of the house; simply rub the dryer sheet over the problem area and static should subside.
Downy fabric softener dryer sheets add static protection, softness, and a fresh scent to your laundry. Depending on the amount of laundry you are drying, toss one to three of these polyester sheets in the dryer to soften your clothes and infuse them with an April Fresh scent.
Downy is available in cool cotton and other scents, too—there are fragrances to please most everyone. These sheets are formulated to help reduce wrinkles in your fabrics to hopefully lessen the amount of ironing you have to do. Bonus: Downy dryer sheets can freshen other areas of the home as well, including the space in the garbage can between the bag and bin, closets, and the insides of smelly shoes.
Love Home and Planet dryer sheets are a product you can feel good about using. Made of 97 percent biobased products, these dryer sheets are biodegradable and recyclable, as is their packaging. They are dermatologist tested and formulated without dyes or parabens. What’s more, Love Home and Planet’s sheets are PETA certified as vegan and cruelty-free because the company does not test products on animals.
These dryer sheets prevent static, soften clothes, and are lightly scented. The fragrance is made of luxurious Moroccan argan oil infused with ethically sourced French heirloom lavender; they’re also available in a rose petal scent.
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day dryer sheets are paper alternatives to standard polyester dryer sheets. Made of compostable and biodegradable paper, these sheets are constructed from plant-derived fibers and contain naturally derived ingredients, including plant-based softening agents and essential oils. Their scents are chosen thoughtfully from plants and incorporate aromatherapeutic elements; for example, a lavender scent may help relieve fatigue and its floral notes are soothing.
Available in garden-fresh lavender, basil, lemon verbena, geranium, and honeysuckle, there’s a scent for most everyone to enjoy. To customize the scent a bit, toss two different dryer sheet fragrances into the laundry at the same time. These are also paraben- and phthalate-free.
Grab Green natural newborn dryer sheets are made from plant- and mineral-based ingredients that won’t irritate your baby’s skin. They are free of harsh chemicals, phthalates, wax, animal fats, and dyes. Designed to soften baby’s clothing and reduce static cling, these dryer sheets are infused with calming cedarwood, citronella java, geranium, orange, patchouli, and petitgrain essential oils. The sheets are perforated, so you can use half a sheet for small loads and toss a full sheet in for large loads.
Though these National Sanitization Foundation-certified dryer sheets are formulated for a baby’s skin, they can of course be used beyond babyhood as well. Grab Green’s sheets are 100 percent compostable, and unlike standard dryer sheets, they won’t leave any residue behind.
All’s fabric softener dryer sheets for sensitive skin are formulated for those who’ve experienced skin irritation or flare-ups after using other brands of dryer sheets. Recommended by dermatologists and clinically proven to be gentle on skin, these dryer sheets are 100 percent free of dyes and perfumes, which are the dryer sheet ingredients that typically prompt irritation and rashes.
Hypoallergenic dryer sheets created for those with sensitivities (including babies’ fragile skin) are gentle and comfortable on the skin because they don’t leave irritating residue behind. Use one to two sheets in each load to keep your clothes virtually static-free.
FAQs About Dryer Sheets
Dryer sheets come in many different varieties and are made by myriad manufacturers. If you still have questions about dryer sheets, we’ve compiled a list of common questions about these products to give you the information you need to find the best dryer sheets for you.
Q. What are dryer sheets made of?
Many brands use dryer sheets that are made of nonwoven polyester. Other sheets are made of rayon, paper, or poly-nylon.
Q. Are dryer sheets harmful?
Dryer sheets deliver chemical compounds that make your clothes soft, static-free, and smell nice. These chemicals are conveyed in minimal quantities, but they may cause irritation to people with skin sensitivities or allergies.
Q. Which dryer sheets smell the best?
The question of which sheets smell best is a matter of personal preference. However, some of the best-smelling dryer sheets are Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Dryer Sheets.
Q. Are dryer balls better than dryer sheets?
This is a matter of opinion, as they both perform the same job. Dryer balls are reusable and help reduce drying time, but they may not offer the same level of softness, static reduction, or fragrance as dryer sheets.