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By request, the Damsel takes on one of those perplexing problems of modern life.

Static Cling. **shudder

Grandma didn’t really have a problem with static cling since she hung her clothes out to dry in the fresh sunshine. The Damsel recommends you try this if you have any possible way of doing so. There are plenty of benefits. Your clothes will smell fresh, not perfumey, and because they haven’t been tumbling around in an over-hot dryer, they won’t be staticky either. Plus, a dryer uses a lot of energy, so you can feel good about saving money/going green by drying your clothes on a line.

Have you ever slept on sun-dried sheets? Grandma would have laughed to think of it this way, but this is one of life’s best and cheapest luxuries.

The Damsel understands line-drying isn’t for everyone. And for those times when you need to use the dryer, many people love the ease of using a dryer sheet to both soften the clothes and reduce static. But is there a way to make your own?

Way #1: Take a rag such as an old washcloth and soak it in liquid fabric softener for about ten minutes, or until it’s thoroughly saturated. Squeeze it out, and hang it somewhere until it’s dry. Now you can use it like a dryer sheet . . . just hurl it into the dryer load. You can use the same rag over and over again, without resoaking it MANY TIMES . . . months, even, depending on use, before you have to resoak it. You will go YEARS before using up a bottle of liquid fabric softener used this way. Cheeep!

Way #2: Mix some hair conditioner (a cheap kind, if you like, but one that you like the smell of) with an equal amount of water. Either do the soak method in #1, or put in a spray bottle and spritz a few sprays on a washcloth and throw in the dryer. You’ll need to respray each time.

If you still have too much static (and even with dryer sheets, that happens) try crumpling up a ball of aluminum foil and putting that in the dryer. The Damsel has no idea why this works and kind of wants to know. Another part of her likes thinking of it as an unfathomable aluminum foil mystery.

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  • kpulsipher

    I love the idea of line drying. Unfortunately, we live in a condo. I guess I could make sure to still hang my underwear out on the balcony.

  • This is awesome! I am definitely going to make my own dryer sheets as soon as the store bought ones run out.

    • Yay! Let me know how you like them.

      • It worked! I think I'll make a couple of them so I don't have to dig the one out of every load.

  • Thank you!!!!!

  • How clever! I really like method #2. I can smell the coconut now… mmm…

  • You are awesome! It was nice meeting you the other day! Thank you for the tips!

    • You made it all run so smoothly. I was super impressed.

  • I put up my FIRST clothesline this year! 🙂 I found a line tightener at Walmart that has really helped me keep the line up. It's a little gadget that you thread your line (cotton, wire, whatever..) through it and it holds it tight.
    Dontcha' love the smell of fresh clothes off of the line?

    • Nothing like that scent! It's a hot, windy day today. Perfect!

  • Chloe Rowles

    Soaking a wash cloth in fabric softener…..Brilliant!!!!!! I will try this straight away.

  • thatreallytallgirl

    We lived in a cute little 50 year old farm house for 5 years. Now we moved to a more modern place, but I MISS my clothesline like crazy! Nothing better than line dried sheets!

    • I know! I know! (and, as the mom of some really tall girls, I gotta check out your site.)

  • I adore my solar clothes dryer. And it gets me outside and away from the computer for a few minutes at a time! But I will share this tip with my daughter, who is forced to use laundromats; she'll love it!

    • It was so sunny and windy today…the perfect clothesline day.

  • Abbey C.

    You can't beat sun bleach either. Hang your whites out in the sun and soak up the benefits of natural bleach! This is the only bleach I used on cloth diapers and it works great!

  • I currently use watered down fabric softener and spray it on a cloth every time I dry the clothes. I like the idea of the soaking method I will give it a try. I recently heard that our undergarments carry ecoli and the only way to kill it is to dry them in the sun. I have not researched this. My mother told me this and I told I think we will be okay because we do not eat underwear. Yeah I thought I was pretty funny when I told her that.

    • hahahaha I love it! Let me know how you like the soak way.

  • thanks, that was really helpful. I do like to line dry, but I don't have a line, just a place to hang a few things..I don't like using the dryer sheets, but all our stuff ends up really rough feeling, I'm going to give the rag-soak idea a try, thank you!

  • estate51

    If your clothes are coming out really rough it might be because all the soap isn't getting rinsed out of them. Maybe you live in a hardwater area or possibly your washer isn't rinsing them well enough. Either way ,just try doing a second rinse and see if that helps.
    I love the aluminum foil idea for static-cling, I'll definitely try that one!

  • I have always loved hanging laundry to dry, but can't do it here where I live right now. Interesting idea, to make my own sheets. I'm not sure I'm brave enough to try it (although I do use my old sheets to prevent smell in garbage cans and sooth static filled hair so that counts for something, right?)

    • brave enough? Are you scared it might do something weird to your clothes? Or just not work?

  • I've had issues with liquid fabric softener staining my clothes. It made me scared to use it ever again. I guess as far a phobias go, I could do worse 😉

  • Nat Alea from OK

    I love the ideas and will definately put them to use!!! Thanks for the great tips.

  • I'm a huge nerd for knowing this, but the aluminum foil trick works because the aluminum attracts the rogue electrons that create static electricity.

    • yay! I was hoping someone would say.

    • I read all the comments just to see if someone had an answer for that. It sounds so easy, I just may try.

  • Carol

    i actually do the 1st method. works really well and like you said you don't have to resoak the rag for quite awhile.

    • Yay! I'm excited to hear a real testimonial.

  • I don't have a place to dry clothes outside, either, which I regret because I'm convinced that it's not drying sheets outside anymore that has made allergies so much worse than they used to be. I love the idea of making a dryer sheet that I can use for a long time!

    Have a wonderful 4th. I'm visiting from the Lady Bloggers Tea Party.

    • thanks for visiting! Let me know how you like your homemade dryer sheet.

  • Way back in the day when I lived in Arizona, I used to line dry my clothes and sheets. I loved the smell and the crisp feel of the sheets. I'll have to try the home made dryer sheet.

    Thanks for the tip!

  • This is good stuff. I miss line drying. We aren't allowed here. I do hang some things to dry inside the house though– like on hangers or on the drying rack we have. It's not quite the same– but it does prolong the life of the clothes.

    I learned about the conditioner method once when we ran out of dryer sheets and it was negative 40 degrees (we were still in N.D.) and I wasn't going shopping.

    Method 1 I just started doing a couple weeks ago. It was an accident. I spilled liquid fabric softener on the laundry room floor and wiped it up with a flannel wipe. Then I figured, "Cool! I have a fabric softener sheet now!" It works great. I'll have to try thoroughly soaking it though so it will last longer.

  • That is so awesome. I am going to make my own dryer sheet right now. Thanks so much for sharing these ideas.

  • Great ideas…found you on MMB.

  • Hel

    I meant to comment on this when I first read it (I must have read it on one of those mornings that I chose to sleep in!).

    I am excited to try both methods because there is only ONE brand and type of dryer sheet available in Australia (Line drying is the rule, not the exception here in Aus) and as a result they are VERY expensive.

    Love your work!

  • OH! I think you (and your baby Rosalie) are fantastic! Thanks for the tip!

  • That is so cool! I'm gonna give this a try!!! Thanks!

  • Lisa S

    A third way to soften clothes is to put a half cup of white vinegar in your rinse cycle.

  • I love this!
    I'm thinkin' I need to start printing out your posts and put them in a binder so I can put them in my food storage room.

    • 🙂 Someday maybe there will be a book.

      Wait, you have a food storage room? jellis.

  • If we weren't having such a miserable rainy summer I would so be hauling some laundry out to our line today. Thanks for the brilliant ideas!

  • I love the foil idea. My wife asked me why it works so I thought I would come and leave a theory. First a qualifier for me. I am a machine tool electrician and have to deal with static charges in some of the machines I build. That said I am taking a stab at why this works. 1 it could be that the static charge is transferred to the foil and grounds it to the dryer drum. 2 it could act like a conductor from the cloths to the dryer drum canceling out the static charge. Now that I am typing this out 1 does not sound that good but 2 sounds like a real possibility. Jeff

    • Yay! A real scientist-like person! Thanks!

  • Oh my gosh. Can I kiss you? Seriously. I never use fabric softeners because I (and two of my three children) have extremely sensitive skin. This, unfortunately leaves most of our clothes a little stiff (jeans… blerg). If I had known I could use CONDITIONER that I already know we don't have any reactions to… you just gave me a lifelong gift of soft jeans without itchy skin. Thank you!

    • the_damsel

      Let me know how it works!

  • As a college kid with limited funds, I appreciate this more than you know.

    Obviously, line drying isn't really an option for me. Unless, you know, I want my entire wardrobe stolen.

  • This is a truly exciting find for me! I have been buying my dryer sheets from CostCo and they seem to last me about half a year, but I am simply LOSING MY MIND with finding used dryer sheets all over the place! The Laundry Room, of course, but then IN our sheets or trailing around in the bedroom or living room. I seriously have NO IDEA what the problem is – I am SURE we are throwing them away, but they seem to keep REAPPEARING! It is maddening! I am excited to think about a life without them!! THANK YOU!!! 🙂

    • the_damsel

      Yay! Let me know how you like it.

  • Oh wow!  This is terrific!  I’m a stay at home mom and my little one is sound asleep.  I’m doing laundry and just now realized that I’m out of dryer sheets!  This is perfect because now I don’t have to wake him up and run out to the store! Thank you!

    • Anonymous

      Nothing worse than having to wake up a sleeping baby. So glad to help!

  • Lew

    Does the foil damage the inside at all?  I make my own fabric softener and laundry soap so this will be a good addition.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Lew–

      I’ve had no reports of it doing damage. Hope it works for you!

  • Corabelle

    This also works great on pillows. I work nights and sleep days, so I sweat more when I sleep. Just throw a soaked wash cloth and your pillows into the dryer on tumble, and they come out smelling great! I do it about once a month.

    • Anonymous

      Good idea! Who doesn’t love a sweet smelling pillow?

  • Hairxpression555

    You saved my butt tonight couldn’t find my dryer sheets so found this trick on google I used the spritzed conditioner and water mixture on a wash cloth and threw a ball of aluminum foil in with it and I don’t think I’ve ever been so impressed!! My clothes are super soft and no static at all!! I don’t think I’ll be buying anymore dryer sheets!!

    • Anonymous

      Yay! That made my day.

      Margot (The Damsel)

  • allinamimisday

    Those of us with allergies should NOT put clothes on the line. I will be trying the foil, thanks.

  • The only downside I see is dryer sheets are great for taking the static out of hair in those dry winter months! Thanks for the tips!

    • bchumney

      Have you tried rubbing a sheet of aluminum foil on your hair, instead?

  • bchumney

    When drying clothes in the dryer, the fabric of the different items tumble and rub together with those of the other items transferring electrons from one surface to the other. This creates a build-up of a low-level electrical charge, or what we know as static.

    Fabric softeners remove this static from our clothes by coating their fabrics with a light layer of wax,
    which reduces the friction between the fabrics when they rub during tumbling. Recall how stiff the dyer sheet is when you first toss one in and flimsy it becomes after several times of use. That is because the wax has been transferred from it to our clothes. And, of course, this light layer of wax builds up on the fabric, making our clothes look dingy.

    When you use a ball of lightly crinkled aluminum foil, instead of a dryer sheet, it attracts the electrons from the fabrics to itself, preventing an accumulation on the clothes. And, as a bonus, it leaves no residue on your clothes to build up and make them look dingy!

    • thedamselindisdress

      Thank you for that excellent explanation!

  • Liz Skellington

    Thank you Very much! My kids have school in the am n told me last second b4 bed they gotta get sum stuff washed, n no dryer sheets! So thanks!

    • thedamselindisdress


      Glad to help. Thanks for the comment!

      Margot (The Damsel)