For a Safer Option Than Dryer Sheets, You Can Throw a Scented Paper Towel in Your Laundry

published May 7, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

For as nice as fabric softener can make your clothes smell, it turns out that sometimes, they’re not so great for the environment, or your skin.

Often packed with chemicals like quaternary ammonium compounds (which soften your clothes) and phthalates, research suggests that certain fabric softeners can irritate sensitive skin or exacerbate existing asthma conditions—a big price to pay for fresh-smelling laundry. But if you’re sitting on some fragrant spray and a paper towel, then boy have we got a laundry game-changer for you.

Believe it or not, you can simply spray a paper towel with your choice of perfume, essential oils, or fragrance spray and voila: You’ve got yourself a DIY laundry freshener (minus any hazardous side effects).

You obviously don’t want to put a paper towel through the wash, but you can throw your scented paper towel in the dryer just like a dryer sheet to impart a lovely scent on all your freshly laundered clothes.

Credit: Joe Lingeman
Credit: Joe Lingeman

Here’s how to do it:

1. Put your wet, clean laundry in the dryer.

2. Scent a single paper towel sheet with a few sprays of fragrance or drops of oil (use more or less depending on how potent the scent is and how strong you’d like your laundry to smell).

3. Throw your scented paper towel in with the laundry and start the dry cycle. Just remember that the higher the heat setting, the stronger the scent from the paper towel will be on your clothing.

Not only do they allow you to scent your laundry without all the side effects of fabric softener, DIY perfumed paper towels let you determine how fragrant your clothes will be when they come out the dryer—and more importantly, what they smell like. You can also re-use your scented paper towels, as long as they’re still holding together.

An even better option: Wool dryer balls

You might be thinking, “Aren’t paper towels bad for the environment, too?” And it’s true that reusable solutions beat disposable ones, every time. A more resilient alternative that will scent your laundry the same way is a set of wool dryer balls. You can spray or drip them with perfumes, scents, and oils, then throw them in the dryer to keep your clothes fluffed up and smelling great.

So before you go hog-wild with fabric softener sheets on your next laundry day, consider grabbing a paper towel or dryer balls and your favorite fragrance spray to custom scent your load instead.