I didn’t realize until I started researching it that fabric softener could have a downside risk. Turns out it coats the dryer’s sensor so the dryer can’t tell if the clothes are dry yet. If your dryer has the feature that it stops using heat when the clothes are dry, even if the time isn’t up, a clogged sensor will waste electricity applying heat to clothes that are already dry. It can also invisibly coat the dryer’s lint screen. This makes the machine work harder pulling air through a clogged screen. You can fix that by scrubbing the screen with soapy water every so often.
The simplest fabric softener alternative is white vinegar. I add half a cup to the rinse cycle. It softens clothes, limits static cling, and and best of all stops lint from clinging to dark clothes. Once I added it in the wash cycle and it worked just as well.
If you prefer dryer sheets, dampen a washcloth or rag with vinegar and put it in the dryer with the load. This also works very well.
If you want a nice smell, add an essential oil to the vinegar. Lemon is nice, or lavender, whatever you enjoy.
If you want to use conventional fabric softener to make your own dryer sheets, you can. Soak a washcloth or rag in fabric softener and let it dry. Use it like a dryer sheet. You can use it several times before you need to soak it again.
Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.