DIY Reusable Fabric Softener Sheets

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One of my goals for the new year was not only to cut our household expenses as much as possiblebut to really get rid of a lot of the chemicals that we have in the house. I’ve always used vinegar in the rinse cycle, but until now, I’d never considered making my own dryer sheets. That is until I realized that my family is virtually incapable of putting the vinegar in the rinse cycle. I’m sure some of you are right there with me on the frustration of crispy towels because the softener was forgotten. They might forget to use the liquid vinegar, but for some reason, they always remember to use dryer sheets. That’s where these bad boys come into play! I am seriously in love with these because of how simple they are to make! This is simple living at it’s best, my friends!



Looking for a great way to cut your laundry costs? These DIY Reusable Dryer Sheets are just the ticket! You'll never buy fabric softener sheets again after you try these! All natural, chemical free and budget friendly too!

These DIY Reusable Dryer Sheets are all natural and they’re super cheap to make! They are fantastic for helping you save money on laundry since they actually use less vinegar per batch than I would use in one load of using just straight vinegar per load. That means that I am thrilled that I get to save even more on top of the savings I get from not buying them anymore. Plus, you’re keeping trash out of the dumpster by recycling old t-shirts to use for dryer sheets. If you don’t have enough old t-shirts to use, you can use old towels or sheets as well. We love to find new ways to use old towels and ways to use old sheets so making these was right up our alley.

DIY Reusable Dryer Sheets

These reusable dryer sheets might not seem like the best way to save, but believe me when I say that they will really help. In 2015, we made a point to stop buying and make homeade as many different items as we could. At this point, we’ve got a list of things to stop buying and make that is over 60 items strong. It grows every week too. To date we have saved well over $5,000 by making things here at home.  Taking the steps that we did to make these items was one of the things that helped us to stop living paycheck to paycheck and to get our family budget under control.

You will need:


Looking for a great way to cut your laundry costs? These DIY Reusable Dryer Sheets are just the ticket! You'll never buy fabric softener sheets again after you try these! All natural, chemical free and budget friendly too!



To start, grab a size large or X-large t-shirt. You can use a smaller size if that is all that you have on hand, but be aware that if you do, you’ll very likely need more than one. Cut your shirt into around (16) 6×6″ pieces. You don’t have to be exact with the measurements, but try to get close. I try to use as much of the shirt as I can so that there is very little waste left over. It is my goal to have a no-waste home and starting with a no-waste kitchen and laundry was my first step toward that.


Looking for a great way to cut your laundry costs? These DIY Reusable Dryer Sheets are just the ticket! You'll never buy fabric softener sheets again after you try these! All natural, chemical free and budget friendly too!


Next, mix the vinegar, water and the essential oil together in the mason jar. Swish it all around a bit to get it combined, but you don’t need to shake it hard. Be sure you use enough oil to really give it a good scent, but don’t go overboard. For a softer scent, lavender oil works well. For a scent that will help wake you up, lemon oil or orange oil is great. For something different, try peppermint oil. Do not use fragrance oils that people use for soap. They are two totally different oils and fragrance oils aren’t meant to be added to anything coming in contact with your clothing.

Looking for a great way to cut your laundry costs? These DIY Reusable Dryer Sheets are just the ticket! You'll never buy fabric softener sheets again after you try these! All natural, chemical free and budget friendly too!

Now add your t-shirt sheets to the jar. You may have to stuff them in there depending on how thick the shirt you used is.  Put the lid on and give a good shake. Don’t worry if all of the sheets aren’t wet, they’ll eventually soak up all of the water/vinegar mix.

Looking for a great way to cut your laundry costs? These DIY Reusable Dryer Sheets are just the ticket! You'll never buy fabric softener sheets again after you try these! All natural, chemical free and budget friendly too!



Once your sheets are all wet with the softener solution, you’re good to use them! Use 1 sheet per load in the dryer and just toss it in like you do with the store bought stuff! Obviously your sheet will dry during the cycle so just set it aside when you pull the dry clothes out. I keep a basket on top of the dryer so that I can toss the used ones into it and keep them all together. Once your jar is completely empty, it’s time to make up another batch!

See? Super easy and a fantastic way to save money on laundry! It doesn’t get much easier than this! You’ll love them as you make your way toward saving money and removing chemicals from your home!

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Stacy Williams

Stacy Williams is a 37-year old wife to a USAF Gulf War Veteran, mother of two teen girls and fur-mamma to a rescued pit bull. The face and brain behind the frugal living and lifestyle blog Six Dollar Family, she also owns and manages Long Haul Wife, Republic Preparedness, The Genealogy Queen and a handful of others sites. By the age of 30, Stacy had overcome a drinking problem, a drug addiction, divorce, survived domestic violence, and had built a life for herself and her daughter after spending 10 months in a homeless shelter. Stacy is passionate about homeless advocacy and addiction education.  Her first book, also called Six Dollar Family is available on Amazon.

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  1. I use vinegar as a softener in washer. How do these sheets compare? Does the fragrance of the essential oils linger a bit after clothes are out of dryer? I’m loving this idea!!

  2. Will the oil stain the clothes?

    • Shelly, no. The oil is there for scent only. You could leave it out if you really wanted to, but it won’t stain at all.

  3. Marianne Hay says

    I love this! Thank you.

  4. cindy soles says

    Do these help to control static? If not do you know of anything that I could add to help with static. I have a severe allergy to all scents so I am always looking for alternatives.

    • Cindy, have you considered wool dryer balls? Those might be a good option for you with your allergies.

    • Nancy Brice says

      Yes, these do control static. I use them regularly and they are great. I put in more than one sheet at a time though to make sure there is no static cling.

  5. Great idea! However, I am thinking that as you pull out the next sheet to use for the next load, you could replace the previous cloth, give the jar a shake, and then it would refresh the sheet. I am thinking this would mean you could use one batch of sheets repeatedly and it would be even more economical. Can’t wait to make mine!

    • Eventually you would have to make a new batch of the vinegar and oil as it would get used up on the sheets. I don’t think she is cutting new sheets every time, just making more of the liquid to put the current sheet into as they go thru the dryer and dry. I wouldn’t think it was very economical if you had to cut up a T-shirt every time.

      • Lynne, you are correct. That’s why I say to set them aside for use next time. I keep a small basket on my dryer and just toss them in there. When I’m out of sheets, I make new batches using the same pieces of t-shirt.

  6. I use fabric softeners to help eliminate static cling as well as for the fresh scent. Will the DIY sheets do the same? Thanks!

    • We haven’t had any issues with static cling. If you do though, adding 1/4 cup white vinegar to your wash cycle will stop it from happening. 🙂

  7. Debbie rhode says

    I am sooooo gonna try this! I have been extremely frustrated with a) my he washing machine and b) our water pump problems. I can’t tell you how many brand new shirts I have ruined with liquid fabric softener stains. I simply went to the sheets. This is an awesome idea, I will be trying it tomorrow! Thanks so much!

  8. a ball of aluminum foil works great in the dryer for static if you can use scents.

    • One of my sons showed me how use these aluminum foil balls …works very well and I use each one for weeks on end

  9. Sorry.. I’m a bit new to the DIY world 😛 Will the dryer sheets stay wet in the jar? If not, Are they supposed to be wet? I’m just wondering so I can figure out how to use them haha

    • Shelly, yes, they are supposed to be wet/damp. They will stay wet in the jar as long as it has a lid on it. Toss them in the dryer and they will of course dry. Set them aside once they’re dry for when you make your next batch.

  10. I have started using these, and I’m just wondering how do you deal with static issues?
    Thanks for your help.

    • Hey Janice, if you add 1/4-1/2 cup white vinegar to your washers rinse cycle, you shouldn’t have any static issues.

  11. I worry that the scented oil will leave oily stains on my clothes. Are there any other non-oily options for adding a nice scent?

    • Laura, the oils should be well mixed into the vinegar solution so there isn’t any residue to really worry about. If by chance they were not mixed in well though, any residue would evaporate as the clothes dry. As for other scenting options, not any that I can think of right off hand.

    • Pure essential oil isn’t actually oil. It is the essence of whatever plant you choose. It is extremely concentrated, and you don’t want to get it on your skin or clothes before it’s diluted. Once diluted, it will not stain or harm you unless you have a sensitivity or allergy to that plant.

      Store bought fabric softener does sometimes stain, and clogs your dryer vent over time. I was having to wash my dryer vent screen annually with boiling water and dish soap to clean the residue of store bought fabric softener. This sounds like a great solution! Definitely going to try!!

  12. Stephanie says

    I’ve been making my own dryer sheets for over a year now. I mix my oils with a tiny bit of salt. Mix the salt and essential oils first, then mix in the vinegar and water. The salt keeps the oils mixed into the vinegar and water mixture. I have never had any oil stains on my clothes. I also add vinegar to my rinse cycle, but still have static cling. I will try the foil balls next time.

    • Just a little tip that I would like to share with you regarding your static cling…1. Turn your heat temperature down. 2. Don’t over dry. 3. Remove synthetic materials once they are dry and continue drying the remainder of of your load. 4. Damp dry your clothes (also saves you money with gas/electricity).

  13. This might be a silly question. New to this DIY world. 😉 Does it matter if you use a white or colored shirt? If you used a light colored shirt would their be a risk of the colors transferring to the other clothes in the dryer?

    • Any color should work Katy. There shouldn’t be any color run issues other than the normal ones that you might have. There’s nothing in the sheets that will cause extra color run if that is what you are asking.

  14. Does the essential oil cover up the vinegar smell? Or does it dissipate as it dries?

    • There isn’t a vinegar smell left over Jenn. If the lavender doesn’t cover it enough for your family though, try lemon oil since it is a stronger scent. 🙂

  15. Sandy Bush says

    I’m thinking you could also use lemon juice, especially if you keep a separate jar for you while clothes. This could supply your lemony smell, too.

  16. Can this be done with a HE dryer since dryer sheets can’t be used? Will this ruin the computer board or void warranty?

    • Stacy Barr says

      Debbie, I’m not honestly sure as I don’t have an HE Dryer. I would suggest calling the manufacturer to be sure before you do. I would think so since it’s basically a wet rag with natural softening agents but better safe than sorry.

    • Debbie, the reason dryer companies don’t recommend dryer sheets is because the softening agents in those sheets leaves a residue inside your dryer, which will eventually get into the components of the machine. Like, if you rub your fingers over a dryer sheet and then rub your fingers together, you can feel that residue on your hand.

      Vinegar and essential oils won’t leave a residue.

  17. Approximately, how many drops of oil do you use? I have never used scented oil in anything and don’t know where to begin.

    • It would depend on how big of a batch you’re making Jamie. I generally go by 2-4 per cup of liquid involved. The strength of the scent will be up to you. If you’re looking to cover the vinegar smell entirely, use more. If not, use less. Also, be sure to use essential oils not fragrance oils. They’re two different things.

      • What is the difference between the essential oil and the fragrance oil? I’m sorry I am so dumb about this.I just have never used any of this before,but I am really excited to try your recipes.

        • Fragrance oils are usually used for soaps. They’re not meant to come into contact with clothing so there’s a chance that they could stain your clothes. Just be sure that whatever you use is 100% pure essential oil (not a blend that is already diluted) and you’ll be fine 🙂

  18. I have not used essential oils either. Where do you buy them? Are they expensive and if so, wouldn’t that negate the savings from using dryer sheets?

    • It really depends on which oil you use. You can buy quality lavender for around $11 per bottle. One bottle will do many, many, many batches of these sheets so it comes out to less than $0.02 per batch on the oil cost. As far as where to buy, I linked a couple of places in the post, but Amazon or anywhere really. Just be sure it is 100% oil and isn’t cut with anything.

  19. Can you make up a large batch of the softening solution ahead of time?

    • I have without any issues. Vinegar is a preservative so it shouldn’t cause any issues. You might want to wait to add the oils that you’re using for scent though since they could lose their properties over time.

  20. Mellisa Cooper says

    Is it okay to use a plastic jar instead of a glass jar to store the dryer sheets? Thanks for a great idea!

  21. Just curious as to if you have any problems with mold with the wet clothes sitting in the jar, esp. in a warm laundry room.
    I mostly just hang clothes to dry, but every now and then I get to a laundromat.

  22. Autumn Prickett says

    Do you have any idea if these are safe to use with cloth diapers? I know you’re not supposed to use any kind of softener in the wash fabric softener sheets on the dryer with the diapers because it causes them to repel water. We use cloth for two little ones,and I just want them to smell nice. But I definitely can’t afford to buy all new ones if ours get ruined.

    • I would personally be worried that the oils in them might harm a little one since certain oils are not considered kid safe. With that said, a little white vinegar in the wash might be okay. It will help remove smells and soften at the same time. I’d test one though to be sure it was okay though before I did a whole load with vinegar.

  23. Rachelle McPhail says

    I hang almost all of our laundry to dry, but I do usually throw it in the dryer for 5 minutes just to fluff it up. Do you think if I air dried a dryer sheet and threw it in with the dry clothes it would still be beneficial?

    • Stacy Barr says

      The reason for dryer sheets is static cling and scent. Since you’re not likely generating a lot of static with a 5 minute fluff, you probably don’t’ need to worry about that end. For scent, you could easily just add a few drops of essential oil to a cotton ball or something of that sort and add it to your dresser drawers. Just be aware that essential oils evaporate quickly so the scent won’t last for long with that method.

  24. Does this make your clothes smell as vinegar?

    • Stacy Barr says

      No Jess. They will smell like the essential oil that you use or just “fresh.” The heat from the dryer evaporates any vinegar smell.

  25. What size jar do you use?

    • Stacy Barr says

      It usually doesn’t matter but I tend to use a quart sized jar so I don’t have to worry about anything overflowing or spills.

  26. maria merritt says

    I have been making these for the past year now and love it!! I have one little thing to add. I have a Jar quart size that i keep in my fridge with the vinegar in it and as I use my lemons I put the lemon rinds in the vinegar. i use the vinegar to clean my counters and cutting boards and when it’s time to make a new batch of fabric sheets i use this vinegar that is now lemon scented so no need for the oils

  27. This may be a silly question, but do you need to wring out the sheet before tossing it in? Thanks!

  28. I made these today with a couple of tee-shirts I was going to give to a chatity store. I have never used dryer sheets before, I am not sure they are a big thing in Oz 🙂 Thank you for the post! Love the smell of lavender.

  29. Mary Lou Smith says

    Don’t know if this is a tip or a tale of woe, but here it is. I had a load of towels that “something ” sprayed with urine. I make my own laundry detergent and use foil balls in the dryer. The first wash did not get out the urine smell, (it was extremely strong), so I put them back thru the wash and added a cup of vinegar. Got rid of the smell, but they are now water repellent. Been some time but the kitchen towels especially are virtually useless to dry your hands with them. About to throw them all away as related use/wash doesn’t help and I don’t know what to use to make them absorbent again. These dryer ‘sheets’ don’t cause this problem?

    • Mary, I’ve never heard of anything like that happening with vinegar. In fact, vinegar is known to soften laundry and make things more absorbent. What I would suggest is soaking them in Castile soap with baking soda and vinegar then line drying them. The line dry will make them “crispy” but it sounds as if there is something coating the fabric that is causing them to repel water. Some commercially produced detergents are very good at doing what you’re describing. Vinegar wouldn’t be able to do that. As for these, no, they won’t cause that issue. I’ve used them for several years now and have never had that issue.

  30. Put a drop of oil on paper let dry,if totally disappeared it will not be on your clothes

  31. I currently have been doing the vinegar/EO/rubbing alcohol combo, then shaking glass bottle prior to adding to each load (alcohol acting as emulsifier). Need to make new batch today (so checking out some other stuff..ahem). My original plan…since I DO still use BOUNCE sheets (I know, since I had to get married; not be with parents forever) on bedding, and I save sheets in Mason jar. Was going to reuse THOSE sheets to see if they worked out. Others’ have used coffee filters, so why not? I have been using the Brillo brand “reusable cloths” in Dollar Tree cleaning section for my DIY All-purpose Cleaning Wipes after the ” cut roll of paper towel incident” was done, used up, and LIKELY wont be repeated.
    I just dont see many mention the couple Tbsps of the rubbing alcohol be added to the vinegar solutions, but I have been having great results, no vinegar smells, and washer even looks cleaner at gasket area. Question the “drying” effect of used regularly though. Thoughts? That was dang long…sorry, I do that more often than I like.

  32. I can’t wait to make my first batch! I just finished a t shirt quilt for my son and I took the scraps and made the dryer sheets.

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