What the heck do they put in dryer sheets? (and other cleaning tips)

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by atszyman, May 31, 2006.

  1. atszyman macrumors 68020


    Sep 16, 2003
    The Dallas 'burbs
    At my company's Christmas party one of my co-worker's wives was telling me about using dryer sheets to clean messes/stains. I had no reason to doubt this but also had no real reason to try it... until recently.

    Over the weekend a pack of gum somehow made it through our new washer and dryer. We started working with the rubbing alcohol (luckily we sprung for a nice set with stainless steal tubs), which in the confined space of a dryer drum leads to all kinds of fun. So a quick Google search led to the suggestion of using a wet dryer sheet. Willing to try anything we gave it a shot.


    The first strange thing we noticed, if you wet a dryer sheet and start scrubbing it suds up like a soapy rag. We then found out that it did a great job of removing the gum that had been spread around the entirety of the dryer drum.

    Just what do they put in dryer sheets and why is this knowledge not more widely known/publicized?
  2. jadekitty24 macrumors 65816


    Oct 19, 2005
    The poor section of Connecticut
    That's a nice little tip that I will store away for possible future use.

    As for the dryer sheets and what they contain, they are essentially cloths soaked in fabric softener, which is dispersed onto the clothing by the heat caused from the dryer. It kind of melts the softener and coats the clothes, so to speak. I know this and yet I am a freak for them. Anything that makes my clothes smell nice, and fluffy to boot, is great in my book.

    Another tip for uses of fabric sheets...I place one in my garbage cans, in musty old hallways (in a discreet spot), lockers, dresser drawers, basically anywhere that just needs a bit of freshening. Some brands are so strong that the scent will usually last for a week. ;)
  3. atszyman thread starter macrumors 68020


    Sep 16, 2003
    The Dallas 'burbs
    I guess the question then becomes, what is in fabric softener and why does it seem to be such an excellent solvent... it actually scares me a little.

    But I forgot to mention the best part....

    After cleaning the dryer, it smelled like dryer sheets which is much nicer on the next few loads of clothes than a strong alcohol/chemical odor.....

    The second tip has been put to good use here. We have a stack of dryer sheets at the bottom of the kitchen trash (mainly because I'm too lazy to pull them out when I change the bags) and another stack in the diaper can.

    Next tip:
    Heard it on the radio one morning and have used it occasionally. An easy way to remove the soap film on the inside of shower doors (esp the completely clear ones) is shampoo. Handy since you already probably use it in the shower. Probably works just as good on the outside but is a bit harder to rinse off....
  4. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    I love dryer sheets. I actually have a couple of boxes that are various scents. I use them in my trash cans, I put one next to the cat box. I have one under my rug, which gives a very light scent. I put one in my coats that I don't wear because it's too damn hot also in my luggage and gym bags. I use them to pick up pet hair (brown comforter, grey/white/black cat = hair!!!). I run one over my tv screens. Dusting them works, but then the dust settles right back down, so I use one after dusting.

    I guess you can use it on soap scum, I heard that, but didn't try it. I guess washing my showers every weekend doesn't lead to lots of scum. But if I were sloppy, then yeah!

    I use them in the car. I know...silly, but it's great! I heard they repel bees, ants, mosquitoes and mice...but I couldn't tell you.

    I guess the list is endless, but I love dryer sheets. Bounce clean linen is nice for the bathroom (I use that on all my bath sheets and such). and then spring fresh for the car...
    Ok now I've crossed a line.
  5. jadekitty24 macrumors 65816


    Oct 19, 2005
    The poor section of Connecticut
    Perhaps because it's not so much a solvent as it is a lubricator? Maybe that's why the gum came off so easy.

    Awesome...so I'm not the only one! I get laughed at due to my tendency to sprinkle dryers sheets throughout my house/car each week after the week-end catch-up cleaning. :D
  6. UKnjb macrumors 6502a


    May 23, 2005
    London, UK
    Interesting thread. Can you help a UK resident? Please give me a brand name or two for these Dryer Sheets? I've never heard of them and they sound useful. Maybe they're sold over here and I can maybe track them down with some extra information?
    Thanks! :)
  7. floriflee macrumors 68030


    Dec 21, 2004
    Bounce is probably the most common brand name for dryer sheets IMO. Other fabric softeners include Snuggle, Arm&Hammer, Downy.

    My old roommate used to stick them in her shoes to freshen them up when they started getting that nasty foot odor. Worked like a charm!

    Sometimes I'll take the ones used in the dryer that don't have all the softener melted out of them and put them in drawers, shoes, clothes that just need a little freshening up. I like the used ones because the scent isn't as strong.
  8. Flowbee macrumors 68030


    Dec 27, 2002
    Alameda, CA
    "Bounce" is probably the most popular over here.

    [Edit: A few seconds too late]
  9. Black&Tan macrumors 6502a


    Mar 4, 2004
    I had a mouse make a winter home in my Jeep last year, and I tried the fabric softener routine. No idea if it worked or not, since I never saw the mouse before or after, just shredded tissues under the seats/dash.

    Who knows, he may still be there...

    But the Jeep smelled nice for a while.
  10. medea macrumors 68030


    Aug 4, 2002
    Madison, Wi
    I have sensitive skin so I don't use dryer sheets. There are so many chemicals in there it's scary, plus they are well known carcinogens. The original point of the dryer sheet was to remove static cling so if you only use dryer sheets for said purpose I'd recommend checking out some natural chemical free and reusable alternatives. I use dryer balls which also soften clothes so there is no need for fabric softener nor dryer sheets.

    As far as using sheets for other uses there are a lot of people who use them all around the house and swear by them.
  11. ixyk macrumors newbie

    Oct 11, 2006
    Stop using dryer sheets!!!

    Here's why:

    Some of the chemicals that are contained in dryer sheets are Benzyl acetate(linked to pancreatic cancer), Benzyl Alcohol(respiratory irritant), Ethanol(linked to central nervous system disorders), Limonene(carcinogen), A-Terpineol(respiratory irritant and damaging to central nervous system), Ethyl Acetate(narcotic), Camphor(central nervous system damage), Chloroform(neurotoxin, anesthetic), Linalool(central nervous system damage), and Pentane(respiratory irritant).

    These chemicals are extremely hazardous to your health and the health of those around you. Oh, and two of the above chemicals are considered by the EPA to be HAZARDOUS WASTE. Do you really want these chemicals on your clothes and the clothes of your children, to be absorbed into your bodies? Not to mention, hazardous chemicals are emitted into the air for you to breathe.

    You've been warned...

    P.S. Use of dryer sheets also damages many washers/dryers. Lots of manufacturers will void your warranty if you use these things in their machines because the chemicals they release can damage the machines.
  12. XNine macrumors 68040


    Apr 7, 2005
    Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?
    Dryer sheets are also hard for firemen to detect the cause of a fire during Arson cases... Not that I know from experience or anything.
  13. Superdrive macrumors 6502a


    Oct 21, 2003
    Dallas, Tx
    My new dryer came with some sample dryer sheets.

    In reply to your post, I've heard Febreeze has a lot of the same chemicals. Just imagine how deadly the Bounce sheets are with Febreeze! :eek:
  14. Lau Guest

    Am I the only one who doesn't like fabric-softened towels?

    I don't use fabric softener because I too have sensitive skin, and, frankly it's a whole other stage of the washing process to be worrying about. I've never had a dryer either, so the whole dryer sheets thing is new to me (and good to know about if there was ever a chewing gum incident, thanks).

    But I quite like it when towels are a bit rougher — they seem to dry better, and they just feel cleaner when they're a bit crispy. :D

    Maybe I was a monk in a previous life. :p
  15. killmoms macrumors 68040


    Jun 23, 2003
    Washington, DC
    You and your hair shirt, both. ;)
  16. Lau Guest

    No, that's just my hair. :eek:

  17. mpw Guest

    Jun 18, 2004
    I don't bother either, but I do use a drier. Fabric softened towels are less absorbent cause their fibers are already part filled with softening 'magic'.

    I like a nice radiator dried face flannel myself for exfoliating! Like I have a regime.:D
  18. iBlue macrumors Core


    Mar 17, 2005
    London, England
    I love fabric softener, I hate it when towels, sheets or clothes aren't soft and fluffy. :eek:
    Those dryer sheets are handy for all sorts of stuff, even the used ones are decent for something, dusting anyway.
  19. savar macrumors 68000


    Jun 6, 2003
    District of Columbia
    I don't want to say you're wrong, but you rattled off a list rather quickly without citing any sources. How do you know those are the chemicals in dryer sheets, and how do you know they are all harmful? E.g.:

    Ethanol -- Ethyl Alcohol, This is what we drink when we want to have fun. I'm sure its not good to bathe in, but I'm thinking a small amount in fabric softener isn't bad. It has a low vapor point so that it evaporates rather quickly anyway.

    Camphor -- Has many medical purposes, particularly for dry or chapped body tissue. It's used in chapstick, cold sore medication, etc.

    I don't know much about those other chemicals (except for Chloroform, which is pretty bad), but I'd like to see some sources before we start condeming fabric softener. I know people who have allergies to it, but I also know people who have allergies to fruit, milk, and dandelions, and I don't think those are hazardous materials either.
  20. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    I use fabric softener on everything but towels. I think I heard somewhere that it makes the towels less absorbent. If I'm gonna spend money on towels, I want them to dry me first. Any "fluffiness" is secondary.
  21. 4JNA macrumors 68000


    Feb 8, 2006
    looking for trash files
    according to my bounce box ingredients list, "Bounce contains biodegradable cationic softeners and perfume". not so scary really.

    there is a warning not to use it on kids sleeping clothes because it will make them less fire retardant. yikes!

    and one very small quote on the bottom of the box..."avoid direct contact with fabrics". WTF?! psychic dryer sheets or just how do you avoid contact :confused:
  22. dogbone macrumors 68020


    Sep 16, 2005
    S33.687308617200465 E150.31341791152954
    I keep a pastry brush and a bottle of fabric softener in the bathroom. After a shower I coat myself in the softener. The whole world is then soft and fluffy and the best part is that I only need to shower once a month.

    Fabric softener almost certainly contains Dihyrogen monoxide. one of the most dangerous chemicals known. In a tragic natural disaster nearly two years ago over 200,000 people were killed by it.
  23. quigleybc macrumors 68030


    Jun 17, 2005
    Beautiful Vancouver British Columbia, Canada
    and here I thought Dryer sheets existed only to cover up weed smell in dorm rooms, now I find out they are used for laundry....will wonders ever cease?
  24. exabytes18 macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2006
    Suburb of Chicago
    I've heard that dryer sheets are good for keeping away insects. I think the idea behind this is to loop them through a belt buckle or something while you're outside. It might have to be a certain scent though.

    Dihyrogen monoxide.... Be careful what's in your next beverage. You definitely don't want to consume any. ;)

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