what do dryer sheets do

What Do Dryer Sheets Do?

Do your freshly washed clothes feel rough and uncomfortable? Maybe you experience your clothes stubbornly sticking together when you get them off the dryer? Maybe you wonder what do dryer sheets do? These issues often result from static electricity, and you can prevent them by using a dryer sheet.

You could be asking: what are dryer sheets? What is the purpose of dryer sheets? Read on to find out everything you want to know about dryer sheets.

What Are Dryer Sheets?

Dryer sheets are squares of polyester or cellulose fibers coated with fatty acids, fragrances, liquid softeners, and other chemicals. These ingredients melt from the dryer heat and coat your fabrics to make them soft and minimize static electricity. So, what does a dryer sheet do?

A dryer sheet helps prevent static electricity buildup on fabrics during machine drying. Additionally, they act as fabric softeners, promote stain resistance, and prevent lint buildup on clothes.

In addition, a dryer sheet will add a touch of freshness to your clothes. Some sheets even have a pleasant fragrance.

dryer sheet in dryer

The Origin of Dryer Sheets

Fabric softeners date back to the mid-20th century when people used them to add a touch of softness to clean clothes. Manufacturers then started adding chemicals to the softeners to prevent static electricity charges.

However, using a softener was quite inconvenient. After the first wash cycle, you needed to add the softener to your automatic washer as softeners had a positive electric charge.

On the other hand, detergents had a negative electric charge. The softener and detergent would counteract when put together, reducing their effectiveness. In the 1960s, manufacturers learned to treat small sheets with fabric softener.

After putting the sheets in the dryer, the moisture and heat warmed up the softener, spreading it across the clothing pieces. This process is how dryer sheets were invented.

How Do Dryer Sheets Work?

A dryer sheet features a thin, electronically conductive layer of fabric lubricant or softener. You can use it in an electric or gas dryer. Once you run a dry cycle with the dryer sheet in your dryer, you will get softer fabrics with minimal static electricity.

The fabric softener in the dryer sheet contains chemicals that work on electrostatic charges, eliminating those lingering on your fabrics’ surfaces. This process neutralizes static electricity, resulting in zero shocks.

Now that you know the dryer sheets’ purpose and how they work, how do you use them?

Once you transfer your laundry from the washer to the dryer, add a fresh dryer sheet to the top of the pile. Then, start the dryer cycle. You may need to use two dryer sheets for larger laundry loads.

It is also advisable to check the product packaging for usage recommendations. Avoid overloading the dryer. You want the laundry to tumble freely to dry properly.

Overloading may also lead to the dryer sheet getting stuck in one place, resulting in the concentrated softener melting onto your fabric and creating unsightly stains. Always remember to remove the used dryer sheet from the dryer when unloading.

Should You Use Dryer Sheets?

Your laundry load will determine whether to use a dry sheet or not. You can use dryer sheets on most fabrics made of natural fibers, including cotton shirts, socks, and pants. It is advisable to read the fabric’s care label before putting it in the dryer.

Professionals do not recommend dryer sheets for several fabrics, including the following:

Athleticwear & Microfiber

When you use dryer sheets on athletic wear and microfiber, the ingredients may coat the fibers and adversely affect your fabric’s stain and moisture-absorbing properties.


The softeners in dryer sheets may reduce your towel’s absorbency. If you want to soften your towel and enhance its absorbency, you should only use dryer sheets moderately.

Flame-Resistant Clothing

Dryer sheets can undermine the self-distinguishing ability of your flame-resistant clothes.

Water-Repellent Fabric

Your water-repellent fabric may lose the ability to repel water when coated by the softness from the dryer sheets.

What Are Other Benefits of Dryer Sheets?

When you ask: what do dryer sheets do? You should realize that their benefits go beyond just softening your clothes and reducing static electricity. Let’s review several other ways to use dryer sheets outside of the dryer:

holding dryer sheet with one hand

Removing Soap Scum

You can easily wipe the grime off your faucet, sink, shower doors, tile, or any other surface using a dryer sheet. Moisten the dryer sheet a bit and scrub the soap scum away.

Removing Pet Hair

Dryer sheets can do an excellent job removing pet hair from furniture, clothes, and other surfaces, thanks to their antistatic properties.

Controlling Flyaways

If your hair feels electric, a few quick swipes over your head with a dryer sheet can help control the flyaways.

Freshening Shoes

If your shoes have a foul odor when you take them off, you can freshen them by putting a dryer sheet inside.

Eliminating Deodorant Marks

You can quickly eliminate the unsightly deodorant marks on your shirt by rubbing them with an unscented dryer sheet.

Keeping Insects Away

Are you tired of insects bugging you? Simply rub a dryer sheet on your skin or tuck some sheets in your pocket to keep the irritating bugs away.

Sharpening Scissors

You don’t need to discard your dull scissors. Instead, you can quickly sharpen them by cutting through a dryer sheet several times or rubbing a sheet on the blades.

Cleaning Electronic Screens

Consider this another great benefit of dryer sheets. They effectively clean delicate electronic screens. Simply swipe a dryer sheet across your screen to keep it clean and free from static electricity. You can also use a dryer sheet to remove dirt, pollen, and other contaminants from your car’s windshield.

Eliminating Food Residues

If you need a simple but effective way to remove stubborn stains on your pots and pans, you can’t go wrong with dryer sheets. Fill your food-stained pan or pot with hot water and place a dryer sheet in the middle.

Leave it to soak overnight and discard the water the next day before scrubbing the stains out with the wet dryer sheet.

Are There Dryer Sheet Alternatives?

While dryer sheets do an excellent job, they do have some downsides. For example, they may trigger allergic reactions for individuals sensitive to dyes and fragrances.

Dryer balls are an excellent alternative to dryer sheets if your family member has allergies. These balls are usually made of natural wool, making them safe to use for most people.

Related: What To Do When Sorting Laundry?

#1 Professional Dry Cleaning Company in the East Bay Area

What do dryer sheets do? What are dryer sheets for? You now have a comprehensive answer if you’ve been asking these questions. If you have other questions about dryer sheets or dry cleaning in general, ask the experts at Martinizing Dry Cleaning.

With over two decades of experience in the dry cleaning business, we can address all your dry cleaning needs in the East Bay Area with a 100% risk-free guarantee. Contact us today to schedule your service.