Dryer sheets in a non-sheet format?
December 13, 2023 1:26 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to get the anti-static feature of dryer sheets without a dryer sheet, and in an unscented version?

One of our pets was discovered to be eating dryer sheets in a very determined and sneaky fashion which led to a health crisis. Our household decided to stop using dryer sheets entirely. The pet is fine, but since this decision we've noticed the house is not:

* there's a lot more dust in the house
* the robot vaccum cleaner bin is filling up more quickly
* the lint catcher in the dryer which needed cleaning every load or two, now barely catches any lint.
* "clean" laundry has noticeably more cat and human hair on it

Clearly, the dryer sheets were helping get small particles, dust, and hair off the laundry and into the dryer lint filter. Without dryer sheets, the dirt and dust is ending up in the house.

Without putting our pet's health at risk, what can we do?

What we've tried:
* wool dyer balls
* running several HEPA filters

The problem persists.

It looks like Bounce used to make a "dryer bar" which would be permanently mounted in the dryer, but (A) it wasn't unscented, and (B) it has been discontinued.

Any ideas welcome.
posted by soylent00FF00 to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
No personal recommendations, but seems like this product is meant to serve your needs.
posted by greta simone at 1:33 PM on December 13, 2023

What about unscented fabric softener in the wash cycle, instead of dryer sheets? It may be due to our water quality or humidity, but I've never used dryer sheets, just fabric softener in the wash, and have zero problems with static. I see what I suppose is a normal amount of lint on the screen after each load. Present, but not nearly enough to cover the screen or obstruct airflow. I still clean it after each load anyway.

Also, on the chance that it's related to your issue, it might be a good opportunity to thoroughly clean your dryer vent system and exhaust port. If it's obstructed, it can greatly reduce the effectiveness of your dryer, and also present a fire hazard. It's something that should be done at least yearly, but hardly anyone ever seems to remember to do.
posted by xedrik at 2:04 PM on December 13, 2023 [3 favorites]

I haven’t tried these pet fur “zapper” things meant to go in the dryer, but they seem made for your purpose.
posted by Kriesa at 2:09 PM on December 13, 2023

Dryer sheets work by having an oily coating that melts in the warm dryer, coating the clothes with fragrance, sometimes, and subduing the electrons that cause static. It's the fragrant oils that pets like, so finding a substitute that doesn't have that is the way to go.
Perhaps there are dryer sheets that don't contain fragrance but still have the oils to collect the dust?
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:21 PM on December 13, 2023

Any interest in these filter float cone thingys— they float in the washer and trap lint, hair, and debris…
posted by calgirl at 2:24 PM on December 13, 2023

A negative ion generator next to the dryer air intake would probably do the trick.

I had a (really old) Norge dryer that included a mercury vapor light you could turn on to generate ozone to 'freshen' the load, but I doubt that’s advisable for many reasons with contemporary fabrics, yet I imagine that would work, too.
posted by jamjam at 2:39 PM on December 13, 2023

If you suspect it's the fragrance that makes dryer sheets irresistible to your pet, Bounce makes some that are absolutely and blessedly fragrance-free.
posted by DrGail at 3:12 PM on December 13, 2023

(I was just gifted those zappers Kriesa linked to and after one load I am underwhelmed. I'll try them a few more times, though, just to see.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:47 PM on December 13, 2023

Response by poster: Great ideas, thank you. Will think about aluminum foil, other dryer balls, and try a test of liquid fabric softener in the wash.

The dryer sheets we used to use are the Bounce Free and Gentle which have these ingredients:
- Polyester Sheet
- Dialkylester Dimethyl Ammonium Methosulfate
- Fatty Acids, C16-18 And C18-Unsatd.
- Bentonite

Would a scoop of palm oil in the dryer work? (Palm oil is apparently a C-16 oil).

I'm wondering if there is some way of using the dryer sheets, but making them pet-safe, for example putting a dryer sheet inside some sort of mesh bag? Potential problem: the pet also likes to eat string-like things, so that might not be any safer.
posted by soylent00FF00 at 4:06 PM on December 13, 2023

* the lint catcher in the dryer which needed cleaning every load or two, now barely catches any lint.

This seems unusual. I would take this opportunity to do some kind of whatever the manual considers a deep clean. Another problem is that dryer sheets add waxiness to the clothes and the dryer itself. I haven't used dryer sheets in at least a decade and never had lint capture problems in all sorts of laundromat, absentee landlord provided or home machines.

Anyway I use the plastic spikey balls and they seem to help, versus the wool ones. The static can be a little tricky in the winter, but I just snap clothes taking them out of the dryer to reduce that.
posted by cobaltnine at 4:09 PM on December 13, 2023 [6 favorites]

I use the previously-linked fur zappers in the washer, then wool balls in the dryer. If I’m feeling really adult I will spray a little water on the balls first, that helps with wrinkles.
posted by assenav at 5:01 PM on December 13, 2023 [1 favorite]

I don't think you can DIY using oil in the dryer without risking fire and/or grease stains. Also seconding to make sure your vent system is clean and your dryer filter is seated correctly.

If you have the room and are open to spending a bit more time processing your laundry, the easiest way I've found to prevent static is to dry static-prone clothes on a line or a rack. If the clothes are mostly synthetic, they'll dry really fast that way. Or you could take them out of the dryer when they are just barely damp and let them air-dry the rest of the way. As a household with an extremely floofy cat, this works for us.
posted by expialidocious at 5:28 PM on December 13, 2023 [8 favorites]

It looks like Bounce used to make a "dryer bar" which would be permanently mounted in the dryer, but (A) it wasn't unscented, and (B) it has been discontinued.

My work camp used to use Ecolab static blocks in guest laundry facilities. I suspect they might have been discontinued as well and the retailers that are advertising them are either getting rid of NOS or are drop shipping and don't actually have product to sell.

However one of the suppliers is via Amazon so maybe actually available in limited quantities? Unfortunately you have to buy a case of either 6 or 12 and they are 35-50 dollars each bar.

Amazon (this one ships from Amazon). Amazon again (this one ships from the seller). National Everything Wholesale, Ferguson. More places if you search for ecolabs static blocks that maybe ship to you if you can supply business credentials. Ecolabs is a pretty big janitorial chemical supply company so it also possible if these are actually still being made that a local janitorial supply would sell you some as well though again you'd have to buy a whole case.

I will note that I found them to leave a rather significant plasticky feeling coating on clothes thay I found objectionable and would therefor remove them from dryers I was using but I don't use any type of fabric softener normally so YMMV.
posted by Mitheral at 5:44 PM on December 13, 2023

God I loved my Bounce dryer bars.

So, you can make a dryer spray with a mix of 1/4 fabric softener of your choice and 3/4 water. You can spray around the drum before you put the laundry in, or put part of it in and give a couple sprays and then the rest and a couple more sprays, or if your dryer drum is easy to spin by hand you can spray with one hand and give it a few spins with the other. You can also spray your wool balls with it. This is not especially different from using fabric softener in your wash, but should do most of what you want.

I personally just always fished out the sheet and put it in a trash bag hanging above the dryer, because aside from the Bounce Bar I never found anything as good as the Bounce pet hair sheet but we also had a sheet-snacker.

The use or not of fabric softener should not really make that much difference in your household dust and vacuum capture, but note that you CAN use the same spray mix 1:4 to reduce static on carpets and furniture - I used this spray for this for many years before ever trying it IN the dryer. When I lived in a very dry climate, this also reduced how often the dogs and humans shocked the everloving shit out of each other, and then there was one time I actually saw the spark between a dog's nose and the metal water bowl.

I have never tried these, but have considered them.

I would recommend doing a thorough maintenance on your dryer, including a Dawn-scrub of your lint trap to make sure it is reside-free and sucking air properly, along with getting one of those vent snake-cleaners, since you have noticed a reduction in lint capture.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:25 PM on December 13, 2023 [3 favorites]

Would a scoop of palm oil in the dryer work? (Palm oil is apparently a C-16 oil).
At best, you will have grease spots all over your clothes. At worst, a fire.
posted by corey flood at 8:45 PM on December 13, 2023 [11 favorites]

Dryer sheets are toxic anyway, and should be avoided.
posted by jamjam at 9:32 PM on December 13, 2023 [2 favorites]

« Older Best super-short language school options for Japan...   |   Production Switcher Questions Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments