Can I Use Dryer Sheets on Baby Clothes [With Natural Alternatives]


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When you have children, you begin to look at things in ways you never did before. You start to examine ingredients lists in food, skincare products, and even laundry products. When it comes to laundry products, what about those soft, smell-good dryer sheets?

Even if you choose to use dryer sheets for your own laundry, you should avoid using them on your baby’s clothes. The softening and anti-static chemicals that are deposited on clothes can irritate babies’ sensitive skin. If you want to soften your little one’s clothes, consider a more natural alternative such as dryer balls, baking soda, or vinegar.

Read on for a deeper discussion into why it may be best to stop using dryer sheets and some great natural alternatives.

Is it okay to use dryer sheets on my baby’s clothes?

Before we talk about using dryer sheets and clothes, let’s talk about baby’s skin. Baby’s skin is very delicate, in fact, their skin barrier is 30% thinner than an adult’s. This is why babies can get dry or irritated skin easily.

Dryer sheets typically have chemicals and fragrances in them that makes them smell good, but can also irritate sensitive skin.

If you do want to use dryer sheets on baby’s clothes, it’s best to choose fragrance-free, dye-free dryer sheets or try another, more natural alternative to dryer sheets like dryer balls, baking soda, or vinegar.

Can I use dryer sheets on newborn clothes

With a newborn comes very delicate, sensitive skin.

The thing about using dryer sheets on a newborn’s clothes is that the ingredients in the dryer sheets can cause skin irritation. Not only can it irritate baby’s skin, but also her eyes or nose, and even lead to a sore throat.

It’s usually the fragrances and dyes that are in the dryer sheets that create the irritation. With that in mind, it’s generally recommended that any laundry product for baby be free of dyes and scents/frangrances.

When can I use dryer sheets on toddler clothes

When to start using dryer sheets on your toddler’s clothes will really depend on your toddler’s skin as well as family history.

If your toddler has had skin irritations a lot as a baby, you may want to forego the dryer sheets.

Also, if you or your spouse have a history of skin issues like eczema, your toddler is going to be more likely to have a reaction to dryer sheets.

Can I use dryer sheets with Dreft

Dreft is probably one of the most popular laundry detergents for washing baby’s clothes. They even have specific detergents for baby’s age, including newborn and active baby.

If you are one of the many parents who uses Dreft, it’s recommended that you don’t use dryer sheets in combination with the detergent. This is because the fabric softener can reduce the flame resistance on baby’s pajamas that are treated with flame retardants.

Additionally, I should point out that the Environmental Working Group (EWG) rates all of Dreft’s current detergents with an F.

Are dryer sheets safe to use?

In general, dryer sheets just aren’t that necessary for baby’s clothes.

Yes, they can make your clothes smell good, but they can cause skin irritation for baby (and adults with sensitive skin, too). They also create a long-lasting environmental impact as single-use sheets end up in the trash.

Potential health risks

For babies with that brand new sensitive skin, dryer sheets can certainly irritate their skin.

This is largely due to the scents and dyes that are in the dryer sheets. If you decide to use dryer sheets with your baby’s clothes, it’s better to use scent-free/dye-free dryer sheets to reduce the risk of irritation.

Babies’ clothing presents another concern. If you use dryer sheets on their clothes, in particular pajamas, the coating on the dryer sheets can make them less fire resistant.

Potential environmental impact

When it comes to the environment, dryer sheets certainly have an impact.

They can be harmful to your skin, release chemicals inside and outside your home, and create waste since they are only good for one use. And, some of the ingredients in dryer sheets such as glutaral can be toxic to marine life.

Another potential risk has to do with your dryer itself. When you throw dryer sheets in with your clothes, the film on the dryer sheets will coat your dryer, including the lint filter. This residue builds up on your lint filter and can be difficult to remove. This build-up will actually block the flow of air and make your dryer work harder to dry your clothes, wasting energy.

A great alternative to disposable dryer sheets is to buy a pack of reusable dryer sheets like these. They are dye-free, chemical-free, and fragrance-free and will help cut down on the chemicals and also the waste from the single-use dryer sheet.

Can I use any dryer sheets on baby clothes?

You don’t really need to use dryer sheets on baby’s clothes.

Most dryer sheets are likely to cause skin irritation for baby. But, there are a few better options out there if you want to use them, including fragrance-free, dye-free, reusable dryer sheets.

Downy

All of Downy’s dryer sheets are infused with some sort of fragrance. Since fragrances are one of the main reasons dryer sheets are irritating to babies’ skin, there are better options out there.

Bounce Free & Gentle dryer sheets

The good news about these sheets is that are perfume-free and hypoallergenic. However, it is still recommended that you not use them on kids’ sleepwear since it could reduce the flame resistance of the clothing.

ALL Free & Clear dryer sheets

With no fragrances or dyes, these sheets are hypoallergenic for sensitive skin.

Seventh Generation fabric softener sheets

The free and clear sheets are fragrance-free and hypoallergenic, reducing the risk of skin irritation for baby, and 97% of the ingredients are plant-based, with all the ingredients listed on the package. They are also made of compostable rayon paper, which is nice to know you can give them a second life.

ATTITUDE reusable dryer sheets

These hypoallergenic dryer sheets can be used for up to 300 loads, so you’re definitely getting a lot of use out of them. They are also dye-free and fragrance-free, so you shouldn’t have any issues with skin irritation. In fact, their ingredients list is pretty short at just 99% polyester and 1% nylon.

Grab Green wet dryer sheets

These dryer sheets are a bit unique because they are wet. The advantage of that is you can use each dryer sheet twice. They are fragrance-free, as well as free of phosphates, phthalates, animal by-products, toxins, dyes, or masking agents. Since they’re compostable, you can repurpose them once you’ve used them up.

Is it okay to use fabric softener on my baby’s clothes?

While dryer sheets are used to soften clothes in the dryer, fabric softener is used to soften clothes in the washer. Think of fabric softener as the liquid form of dryer sheets, with comparable disadvantages.

While fabric softener might be a bit better than dryer sheets, they still have the same perfumes and dyes that dryer sheets do, causing the same skin irritation for babies.

How can I soften baby clothes without dryer sheets?

Babies have the softest skin, it’s true! So the thought of putting any clothing on baby that isn’t soft sounds awful.

If you want to soften baby’s clothes, you may want to look at alternatives to dryer sheets since dryer sheets can cause baby’s skin to get irritated. Some good alternatives for freshening up baby’s clothes in a more natural way are dryer balls, vinegar, baking soda, and just some plain ol’ sunshine.  

Dryer balls

Dryer balls are a common alternative to dryer sheets.

They are usually made of wool, plastic, or rubber and will soften your clothes while in your dryer. The nice thing about dryer balls is that they are reusable, so you get a long life out of them, and that also makes them environmentally friendly.

They also don’t have all those dyes and fragrances, so they are good for sensitive skin. And did we mention that they shorten the drying time of your clothes? The downside to dryer balls is that the wool ones could leave fibers behind in your dryer and the plastic ones might be a bit noisy.

If you want to try out dryer balls then I recommend these right here. They are all-natural, organic, and long-lasting!

Vinegar

Vinegar is a natural cleaning solution that can be good for those clothes that are covered in mud or sweat, but it’s also good for softening your clothes. Just add it to your wash cycle.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is something most of us have in our pantry already since it can be used for so many things. It can even replace your dryer sheets! Adding baking soda to your washing machine will keep your laundry nice and soft.

Sunshine

If you want a natural way to treat stains and air any smelly clothes out, the sun is your friend! You can easily hang your clothes outside to dry in the sun. Just make sure you don’t leave them too long – you won’t want it to fade your brightly colored clothes.

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Josh

I'm the dad in charge of Natural Baby life. With 10 years of parenting experience across three children, I am constantly learning how to raise children more naturally. I'm passionate about doing whatever it takes to raise a happy and healthy baby! Find out more about me here.

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