You can use WHAT?! instead of dryer sheets?

A quick tip for replacing your dryer sheets with this everyday kitchen item. It lasts up to a year!

This little tip was one that came into my inbox in one of those little round ups of different tips that get forwarded around the world in email. You know the ones. Things like “67 uses for a banana peel”, and “101 ways to make life easier for your cat”. Those ones. One of the tips suggested using tinfoil instead of a dryer sheet to prevent static cling. I just had to try it out for myself.

I actually really like my dryer sheets and can always tell right away when I’ve forgotten to add one in. Static cling when you’re trying to fold a load of laundry quickly is not your friend. I use a brand that’s natural, biodegradable, healthier, safer, and all that, but it’s still nice to know there’s a cheaper, scent free, longer lasting option out there. Plus it’s just neat to do little experiments and try stuff out!

You start out with 2-3 sheets of aluminium foil (*update: The sheets were about a foot long each, although I don’t think exact size matters*) and you ball them up together.

Then you toss it into your dryer along with your clothes! That’s it!

The ball came out looking a little smoother afterwards from bumping around in there, but other than that, no real visible change.

And the laundry? Well, it still looked just like laundry but it was completely static-free! It’s a little bit amazing. AND, you can supposedly use the same ball for up to a year!

Did I really just show you a big ol’ pile of my laundry waiting to be folded? Yes I did.

I hope this one comes in handy for you next time you run out of dryer sheets, or if you just want to do a little experimenting like me.

I love little tricks like this!




  1. says

    I do this too and I was so surprised when it actually worked! Our dryer is massive so I toss 2 in there and they’re good for about a month (I do like 4 loads a day. Seriously. 8 people) I love this trick!

  2. says

    sweet – how big a ball do you need?? You’re not talking the whole roll (I hope!) so how big are your “sheets”. I’m almost out of dryer sheets so let me know!!! :)

  3. doni says

    i especially like this for towels. no dryer sheet build up so they actually absorb water. works really great for microfiber towels because if you use dryer sheets with them they won’t be as absorbent.

  4. says

    Thanks–great trick! Your post prompted me to look up dangers of dryer sheets: Yikes, avoid them especially if you have kids! “Healing Naturally by Bee,” says to soften, just add 1/4 c baking soda to the wash, or to soften and eliminate cling, add 1/4 c of white vinegar to wash. Trying that in our next load :)

  5. Anonymous says

    Thank you for your post, I’ve gotten some great ideas from your website. Personally, I take a gallon of white vinegar, add a little essential oil and pour that into a Downey ball. Works like a dream, plus I get a great scent. Kristin

  6. says

    I have been using a foil ball now for almost a year. I switched when I found it works and no longer exposes me to the chemicals found in dryer sheets. I just recently put in a new ball (the original one just kept getting smaller and smaller to the point it was time to replace it.) I love finding ways to go back to basics and still get great results! No static cling is the plus factor. I also use while vinegar for fabric softener – these two combined save tons of money and you still get great results! Happy laundry day!

  7. Lacey Craig says

    I use dryer sheets for the static cling and for fabric softening…when you replace the dryer sheets with the tinfoil, are the clothes soft? Or do you need to use something else for that? I’ve never used liquid fabric softener because I would never remember to add it during the rinse cycle!

  8. Sharon S says

    I just use some fabric softner on an old rag, squeeze out the excess and it’s good to go for a bunch of loads

  9. Anonymous says

    Good to know as my dermatologist just told me to not use fabric sheets any more, in trying to rule out some allergies.

  10. Anonymous says

    I’ll have to try this. I use vinegar in the wash/rinse cycle at it works well for softening clothes. I do have dryer balls – stopped using anything with a scent. Thanks.

    Also hair conditioner on a rag works. It’s always nice to have options.

  11. Anonymous says

    If you want a safe alternative to dryer sheets, you can also you cotton rags (or clean cloth diapers from the store). You soak these in a few (5 or less) drops of essential oil and add to the dryer. Freshen the rag after each use with a of oil. Wash the rag after 3 or four uses. Another technique is to add a (preferably new) tennis ball to the dryer. I used to do this before I switched to white vinegar. Makes the load nice and fluffy. Not sure about the chemicals though.

  12. says

    Hello All – I just wanted to play a little devil’s advocate here and pose the question, by adding the aluminum to the dryer (heating it up) and letting it bounce around all the clothes, is there any chance that we are now absorbing the aluminum (that must rub off to some extent, another person that her ball just kept getting smaller and smaller) – like with towels?

    • Krista says

      The aluminum ball gets smaller due to compression from bouncing around, not because it is losing aluminum. There is the possibility that some traces of aluminum get on your clothes, but there are traces of aluminum in almost everything we eat and drink. Aluminum composes about 10% of the Earth’s crust, so it is naturally in the environment. It is not harmful.

      • says

        There’s nothing toxic about aluminum. Not to humans anyway. But saying that it’s safe because it’s naturally occurring in the environment is a poor argument for its use. Lead is also naturally occurring and it’s toxic to humans. Which is why we have unleaded gas and graphite pencils.

  13. Anonymous says

    Adding white vinegar to your rinse cycle does three things…..
    1/softens clothes, 2/neutralizes any remaining detergent, 3/helps kill any remaining bacteria (which will sour your clothes the first time you break a sweat). However it doesn’t control static cling. But the foil ball takes care of that. Good stuff!!

  14. Cautiously Curious says

    The same thought occurred to me as well. How do we know the aluminum foil is safe to tumble in the dryer? Does anyone have any wisdom to share regarding that aspect?

    • Krista says

      There are traces of aluminum in almost everything we eat and drink. Aluminum composes about 10% of the Earth’s crust, so it is naturally in the environment. Aluminum is the active ingredient in most antiperspirants. It is not harmful.

  15. says

    Do you find that your clothes fade around the edges from the pummeling of the hot foil ball? I’m envisioning navy blue kakkies with fading or a bright colored top looking beat up/worn.

  16. says

    How do your navy blue khakis or red/bright cotton clothes look after being pummeled by a hot piece of metal? I’m envisioning fading or worn spots.

  17. Anonymous says

    I continued to use the same aluminum ball, when it started getting too small, I just added 3-4 layers of foil over it and had a bigger ball of foil. After a few loads the aluminum ball would rattle. I finally decided to “break open” the aluminum ball. The original had formed a hard marble inside and the last had formed a quarter inch thick ball on outside. So I don’t think you are losing the aluminum just condensing it.!

  18. Anonymous says

    The ball got smaller because air is trapped in the folds of the ball as it bounces around and smooths out and tightens making it appear smaller.

  19. says

    I’m wondering the same thing as Ren – my first thought was, isn’t all that heat going to make some of the aluminum absorb into my clothes? That doesn’t seem like such a great idea. Or maybe the amount that comes off the ball is really minimal, any insight would be great…

    • katelyn says

      I would like everyone to think about the original uses for tinfoil before they consider whether or not they are “absorbing” the aluminum.

      Aluminum is made to line pans that’s you put in the oven, wrap a potato and stick it in the oven, cover your casseroles that you put in the oven.

      I think that if we are able to have it so close to our food and put it in the oven at a minimum of 350 degrees than putting it in a dryer would be ok.

      Check out this link also about fooil balls and dryer balls, I think its pretty neat the way she goes about it. I would only propose covering the balls so that the foil won’t scratch my dryer. Any thoughts?

  20. Myria says

    I was wondering the same thing Ren, I guess it’s time to do some research because I’d really like to save money by doing this.

    I’m also getting ready to make the vinegar and essential oil fabric softerner alternative. Great tips!

  21. isabel freeman says

    I have not heard of this before but I am going to use it as I have tons of allergies and cant use a lot of products because of the perfumes. Can I ask tho- if I want the softer clothes using vinegar, how much would I add please? many thanks

  22. Valeri says

    My thought/ comment about the aluminum transferring to the clothing is: we bake with foil (which heats it up) then ingest the food. Or use aluminum cookie sheets, cupcake tins, etc.

    • Debra says

      I just hit reply to this comment, but it applies to many of the the others as well.
      Aluminum should NEVER make contact with your food. It is used to make cookware, cookie sheets etc..but you should use parchment paper liner in all cases.

  23. Margaret says

    Hi I have been using those sets of prickly plastic dryer balls, two to a set. They work pretty well on the static and keeping the clothes untangled, but don’t do much for the softness of the towels etc. The water in my area is very hard though.

    • katelyn says

      We have terrible well water that is very hard, it even smells like eggs. Yuck!! I have been cloth diapering my twins and found that I was getting terrible build up of detergent and minerals. After some research I found that CALGON make a liquid water softener that you can put in the washer. One cap for top loaders and a half cap for front loaders. This has been a life saver!!!

      • Gael says

        That smell is sulphur, and we have that, too. A quick tip to make it drinkable is to boil it, let it cool, then refrigerate. You can also just put it in a pitcher for 24 hours with a towel over it so the gas can dissipate, but it’s better after boiling. I’ve found scented detergent and some vinegar in the rinse helps the smell of the laundry. Oxy products seem to help, too. If it comes out of the washer smelling decent, then you can try the aluminum foil trick.

  24. Alaskanjackie says

    The ball is not going to get hotter than the air the dryer pumps out so unless your dryer already burns the edges of your clothes, the aluminum ball won’t. Most dryer sheets contain animal fat which builds up on your clothes and dryer lint screen over time. Unless you are eating your clothes I doubt that any residue from the aluminum ball (if any) would hurt you. After all, if you use aluminum to line baking dishes you stand a better chance IF the aluminum foil “sheds” to ingest it in your food.

  25. Anonymous says

    Aluminum has to be 1221 degrees F to melt, so I think the possibilty of transference to the clothing is virtually non-existant. If you are hesitant about using it, switch to the wool dryer balls.

  26. says

    Wool dryer balls (felted & un dyed) have been beyond amazing!!! I use vinegar when I start the laundry right along with the homemade “detergent” for a chemical free laundry experience. I love knowing we aren’t clothing ourselves in chemicals 24/7.

  27. says

    I have been using 3 of the wool dryer balls, which you can scent yourself with essential oils. They have kept the static out of my clothes until recently…winter is coming on. I ordered 3 more so hoping that will help. The wool balls will last a long time…years! And I am allergic to wool, they do not bother me in the dryer.

  28. Anonymous says

    I use a clean wash cloth with a couple drops of hair conditioner rubbed into it. Works great and no static cling. I’m excited to try the aluminum foil ball now too.

  29. Lcg says

    I am on first week of “no more dryer sheets or fabric softener” so many chemicals. I use 1/2 cup baking soda in wash water, and put the white vinegar in my Downey ball.
    Super easy, and clothes smell and feel fantastic!
    Still have static so I just ordered the Woolzies dryer balls.

    Next week I will be trying home made laundry soap.
    Any help with that would be appreciated.

    • Elena says

      I know this is an old post but invade someone was wondering about a homemade laundry detergent that’s borax free here’s the one I use with my family an I have a little one that’s allergic to many chemicals but not this recipe if anyone wants to give it a go.
      I do:
      2 bars of dr. Bonners citrus soap grated
      6 cups of washing suds
      (In the laundry aisle)
      8 cups of baking soda
      Just mix all ingredients together in a food processor an store in an airtight container.
      Hope this someone!

  30. says

    I’ve been using the tinfoil balls in the dryer since I saw it on the internet in 1997, they work great to remove statc, although they do not soften clothes. I have found that most clothing doesn’t need to be soften, only the removal of stactic.

    1. you should make 3 good sized (large) balls to use together in each load.
    2. If you’re concerned about it knicking the materials any…. do this: place in the dryer with 2-3 pairs of jeans (inside out), or old jeans …. this will pre skrink the balls to be smooth.
    3. I have found that the name brand tinfols work better for an unknown reason
    4. I use the 3 balls repeatedly for monts until they are like very small ball-barrings …… then I put them into the recyling bins

    All around …. good stuff !!!

  31. says

    My mind is blown! LOL, I cant believe the solution has been in our house the whole time!
    We currently use dryer balls, which have been great in saving on dry time too…but I wonder if a FEW of these foil balls in there would have the same effect and allow the air to get through more effectively?!
    Hmmmm…experiment time I guess!

  32. Anonymous says

    I have used the plastic dryer balls (horribly LOUD) Wool balls (get some wool yarn and felt the balls yourself – inexpensive, but again LOUD, they are very dense and heavy)but the aluminum is light, quiet, and very inexpensive. I hate the chemicals left on my clothes and dryer lint screen from dryer sheets. If you use dryer sheets, pull your lint screen and try to run water through it, if the water can’t go through the screen (caused by dryer sheet “grease” build up) then you have a fire hazzard.

  33. Anonymous says

    I buy store brand softener and mix it 50/50 with white vinegar in the softener cup in each wash load. It softens clothes and also helps clean the built up soap in the washer’s drains.

  34. says

    I’ll have to try this! I switched to homemade powdered laundry detergent about a year ago, and always put vinegar in the bleach and fabric softener cups. My laundry detergent contains a bit of Oxyclean, so between that and the vinegar my clothes are always soft and fresh. But clingy. Thanks for the tip! I know fabric softener and dryer sheets are horrible for your clothes and you, gives me a nasty rash!

  35. Anonymous says

    I guess I’m the only one that this doesn’t work for at all. Plus the banging of a hard ball of foil in the dryer is awful.

  36. J says

    Foil balls work well but can damage your dryer after a time. That’s actually while I’m searching for a new method now.

    • Angel says

      I use both the felted dryer ball and the foil balls. I love them. I have found that if you go to sally’s beauty supply (or some place similar) and get the foil sheets that are used to color hair they don’t flake like regular baking foil. I also wrap mine in thin cloth to keep them from scratching my dryer or snagging. I just wrap them up and knot them in a ribbon. You will have to add more sheets and retie from time to time because all the bouncing around and the heat compact the ball. I make mine as big as my wool dryer balls so the can do double duty-no static and they help separate the clothes.

  37. Kathy says

    You mention that the foil ball gets smaller and smaller. Does it get more compact and tighter or does it wear down, leaving aluminum on the clothes? That doesn’t seem safe.

    • Courtenay says

      It just compacts, and don’t worry, it’s 100% safe! Just think of the original use for tinfoil: Heating it up much hotter in the oven and then directly consuming the food right off of it! It’s all good!

  38. bev says

    I cannot believe that some people just jump to the conclusion about hot tinfoil….love the comment about it only get as hot as the dryer is…no burnt clothes in my dryer! I also think what about metal button…they do not burn your clothes!

    • Courtenay says

      That’s a good point! I hadn’t even thought about the metal buttons! It’s totally safe and lots of people have been doing this with their laundry for years.

  39. sue says

    How about this for an idea? Hang your washing OUTSIDE to dry! Use the power of the sun and wind to dry your clothes. Save on electricity, too.

    • Jacqui says

      Great plan! Thats what we do 90% of the time, except for the middle of winter. We do have dryer balls and use them to fluff up towels at the very end once they’re 90% dry on the line. I also find sunlight does a much better job or sanitizing laundry, especially sheets. And it’s better for the environment !

    • Pamela Hurd says

      Allergies! People with allergies cannot hang their clothes outside. I love my towels hung out but cannot stand to sneeze my brains out.

          • Courtenay says

            Ooooh! Ha. Of course! I had a lot of family in Vancouver growing up and spent a lot of time there so I know all about the rain! :) I was thinking you meant that the tinfoil in the dryer wouldn’t work for you so I was confused!

  40. Liz says

    My doctor advised alternatives to liquid fabric softener and dryer because of the Mercury content! So the tin foil balls or wool balls for the dryer and white vinegar for the wash. All work wonderfully !! Clothes are soft, smell clean and are static free. Very economical too. HappyLaundryLoads!

  41. says

    I just tried this today. I am very pleased! If I am worried about snags, I can just throw it in a delicates zipper pouch. Awesome idea, thanks for sharing!

    • Courtenay says

      Not at all! The balls smooths out really quickly. It’s actually far less harsh on the dryer than zippers and stuff that we all put in there all the time anyway!

  42. Colleen says

    people were commenting about ‘what about softness?” i for years have taken a damp face cloth and put about 12-15 drops of lavender essential oil on it and thrown that in my dryer. it softens the clothes but because the drops are on the one face cloth(and not alot of drops for a whole load of clothes), it doesn’t make the rest of the laundry smell like lavender (which i wouldn’t mind) but some people don’t like a fragrance on their clothing. i use the dryer balls but am going to try the tin foil instead. thanks for sharing with us all : )

    • Courtenay says

      I’m going to try that one out, Colleen! I’ve got some lavender oil here, so I might as well. Thanks for sharing! I sometimes use vinegar as a fabric softener too, which works really well!


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