The Clever Way To Use Coffee Filters In Place Of Dryer Sheets

Even though they have become a staple laundry tool, dryer sheets are actually harmful as they have chemicals that can affect our health. Most are made from nonwoven polyester and covered in a softener that breaks down when the dryer heats up, releasing chemicals like quaternary ammonium compounds (also known as 'quats'), which can irritate the skin, stir up asthma, and lead to more severe health issues (via Think of the Pandas). They aren't good for our clothes either as they cause them to break down and lose quality over time.

Luckily, there are alternatives. Dryer balls, for example, are chemical-free and reusable. You can also soften your laundry by adding either 1 teaspoon of baking soda or ¼ cup of vinegar to the wash cycle. Another easy option involves a very versatile kitchen item that you might not think of. Paper coffee filters can line the bottom of your plant pots, buff your shoes, sieve used cooking oil, and also take the place of dryer sheets. Here's how you can use coffee filters when doing your laundry.

How to do it

Take a paper coffee filter and add some fabric softener or, preferably, something more natural, like vinegar. This is because liquid fabric softeners may contain fewer chemicals than dryer sheets but can still be avoided. Then, add two or three drops of essential oil. Lavender, lemon, peppermint, and eucalyptus are some of the best essential oils for laundry because of their individual soothing, cleaning, and antibacterial properties. Next, toss the filter on top of your clothes in the dryer like a normal dryer sheet. If it's a full load, you might need a few filters. The result will be a nice scent, reduced static, and softer clothes.

Another way to use coffee filters is by soaking them in homemade fabric softener, drying them out, and then using them as your own DIY dryer sheets. You can make fabric softener by boiling 3 cups of water, adding 1 cup of hair conditioner and 1½ cups of apple cider vinegar to the water, and mixing everything well. Next, fold the paper filters and soak them in the liquid. Take them out before they fall apart. Then, spread them out on a tray to dry properly for about a day until they're ready to use or store away. 

The environmental impact

In addition to their harmful effects on our bodies and clothes, dryer sheets are bad for the environment. The substances that are released when they break down can cause the dryer to take longer, which requires more energy. Dryer sheets are also single-use and can't be recycled at all. This creates a lot of toxic waste since they carry those harmful chemicals to landfills where they don't decompose.

On the other hand, coffee filters will decompose easily and are even compostable. Because they are made of paper, they can be composted together with the coffee grounds. One composting tip to keep your compost free from chemicals is to buy brown-colored filters, which are unbleached and chlorine-free. Another tip is to wet the filter before tossing it so it can break down quickly. You can also opt for reusable coffee filters made from cloth or metal to further reduce the amount of waste created.