Is it Safe to Use Dryer Sheets on Baby Clothes?

Dryer sheets contain toxic chemicals. These can irritate a baby’s sensitive skin when residues get on clothes. 

Quick links:

Things to know about dryer sheets

Dryer sheets on baby clothes—yes or no?

Are wool dryer balls a better solution?

Useful tips for keeping baby’s clothes soft

Let’s explore the risks and offer safe, eco-friendly solutions for keeping laundry clean and gentle.

6 pack penguins

What You Need to Know About Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets are a type of fabric softener used in laundry to reduce static cling. They are typically made up of a combination of chemicals such as liquid softeners, lubricants, and fragrances that are coated on a layer of fabric (usually made of polyester or cellulose fibers).

When used in the dryer, the heat releases these chemicals onto clothes to soften fabrics, reduce static, minimize wrinkles, and impart pleasant scents. However, the chemicals pose risks of irritation for sensitive skin.

Can I Use Dryer Sheets on Baby Clothes?

Using dryer sheets on baby clothes is risky due to the chemicals present, like fragrances, softeners, and anti-static agents. These ingredients, especially strong perfumes, can irritate and absorb through a newborn's incredibly delicate skin.

Babies are far more vulnerable to toxins and allergens than adults. While dryer sheets provide conveniences like softness and scent, the hidden chemicals likely outweigh the benefits for sensitive baby skin. A baby's safety is paramount.

Reason Not to Use Dryer Sheets on Baby Clothes

There are several important reasons to avoid using dryer sheets on baby clothes:

They Contain Harmful Chemicals

One of the biggest concerns about using dryer sheets on your baby’s clothes is the fact that these products contain chemicals. Here are just a few of the harmful chemicals used in dryer sheets:

  • Chloroform
  • Benzyl alcohol
  • Benzyl Acetate
  • Limonene
  • Ethanol

These chemicals can irritate baby’s sensitive skin and cause rashes, blisters, and even dermatitis.

Dryer Sheets Can Irritate Baby's Skin

A baby's skin is extremely delicate and permeable. The harsh chemicals and strong artificial fragrances in dryer sheets often cause skin irritation, rashes, redness, and dry patches when transferred to their clothes. Babies do not have fully developed immune systems to handle these reactions.

They Reduce Fire Resistance

Safety regulations require baby pajamas to be tight-fitting and flame resistant. But the chemical buildup that accumulates on fabrics from dryer sheets actually reduces fire resistance over time. This makes baby pajamas more prone to catching fire near open flames, putting infants at risk.

The chemicals in dryer sheets are not good neither for you nor the planet. If you are worried about using them, then there are a few alternatives that you might want to consider instead.

What are Safer Alternatives to Dryer Sheets?

If you want to soften baby’s clothes, you may want to look at alternatives to dryer sheets since these sheets can cause baby’s skin to get irritated. 

Some good alternatives for freshening up baby’s clothes in a more natural way are the following.

Wool Dryer Balls for Baby Clothes

Wool dryer balls provide a hypoallergenic option suitable for baby clothes. Wool dryer balls work by physically softening laundry through movement in the dryer.

Wool dryer balls win over dryer sheets hands down. Here’s why:

  • They are made from 100% natural wool, typically organic New Zealand wool. They contain no added chemicals, fragrances, or toxins.
  • The wool's soft, gentle texture helps separate clothes in the dryer and physically soften fabrics. The balls bounce around, allowing airflow to reduce static cling and wrinkles.
  • Using wool dryer balls eliminates the need for liquid fabric softeners or dryer sheets that may contain irritants. They are hypoallergenic and safe even for delicate newborn skin.
  • Wool dryer balls last through over 1,000 loads, making them a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly choice compared to disposable dryer sheets.
  • They help reduce drying time by up to 25% by improving airflow. This saves energy and money while being gentle on clothes.
  • Wool naturally absorbs and neutralizes odors. The balls can be infused with a few drops of essential oils to lightly scent laundry, if desired.

6-Pack Original 100% Wool Dryer Balls


Vinegar is an effective natural fabric softener to use on baby clothes instead of harsher dryer sheets. Adding just 1⁄4 cup of mild white vinegar during the rinse cycle will softly freshen fabrics while removing any residual detergent that could irritate delicate skin.

Soaking some towels in vinegar and drying them with the baby laundry provides an even softer result. Vinegar's odor neutralizing properties are also great for removing spit-up smells and other stains from onesies or burp cloths without the need for strong chemical cleaners.

Baking Soda

Sprinkling a bit of baking soda directly onto cloth diapers or baby clothes can help absorb odors, lift stains, and brighten the fabrics, all without toxins touching sensitive skin. Its water-absorbing properties also reduce static cling in cotton pajamas and swaddles.

Mixing a tablespoon or two into the wash basin lets baking soda naturally boost the cleaning power of a gentle, hypoallergenic detergent. For best results, skip the dryer entirely and let baby clothes air dry to prevent the buildup of any chemicals on the fabric over time.


The sun is your friend when it comes to naturally treating stains and airing out stinky clothes! You can easily hang your clothes to dry outside in the sun. Just do not leave the clothes out for too long, or the brightly colored clothes will fade.

Tips for Keeping Baby’s Clothes Soft

Washing baby clothes is imperative, but keeping the clothes soft is also important for their comfort and skin health. Here are some tips for keeping your baby’s clothes soft and cuddly:

  • Use a gentle, hypoallergenic liquid fabric softener in the wash cycle. Look for plant-based formulas without dyes or perfumes.
  • Use natural ingredients like baking soda or vinegar during the rinse cycle. These provide softening without chemicals.
  • Air dry clothing when possible. Hanging items up to dry naturally softens fabrics.
  • Wash with cool or warm water. Hot water can damage fabrics. Cold rinses also reduce wrinkles.
  • Clean washing machine monthly. Run it empty on a hot cycle with baking soda or vinegar to prevent build-up.
  • Use wool dryer balls. These natural fabric softeners physically soften clothes in the dryer.
  • Try dryer ball spray. Lightly scent laundry by spritzing balls with our anti-static essential oil scenting spray.
  • Use an extra rinse cycle. This ensures all detergent residue is removed.
  • Wash new baby clothes before wearing. Brand new fabrics can irritate sensitive skin.

Dryer Sheets FAQ

Can you dry baby clothes on delicate?

You can dry your baby's clothes on a delicate cycle. It's best to use the delicate or low heat setting when drying baby clothes. High heat can damage fabrics and cause them to shrink, pill, or wear out faster. The gentle cycle also prevents over-drying which can make clothes stiff and uncomfortable against delicate skin. 

Can you use dryer sheets on baby clothes?

No, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), dryer sheets contain chemicals toxic to babies. Fragrances, dyes, and residues can cause irritation, rashes, or worsened eczema. 

What are the best dryer sheets for baby’s clothes?

It's best to avoid dryer sheets altogether on a newborn's delicate skin and clothing. Even supposedly "gentle" or "free and clear" formulas may contain hidden irritants. Stick to safer softeners like wool dryer balls or essential oil sprays that don't directly contact the skin. Protecting your baby's health is more important than convenience or scent.

When should you not use dryer sheets?

Avoid dryer sheets on baby clothes, athletic gear, microfiber, towels, and fire-resistant sleepwear. Chemical coatings cause buildup that reduces absorbency and flame retardancy over time. Also skip dryer sheets if you or family members have skin sensitivities or allergies, as ingredients like fragrances commonly cause irritation.

Should you use fabric softener on baby clothes?

Be cautious with liquid fabric softeners on baby clothes, as the chemicals may still irritate delicate skin. Opt for gentler, plant-based formulas with no dyes or perfumes. It's best to stick to fabric softener alternatives like vinegar, baking soda, or wool dryer balls to softly freshen laundry without harsh chemicals touching your baby.

Are cotton sheets safe for babies?

Yes, cotton sheets are ideal for babies. Cotton is breathable, helps regulate temperature, and is less likely to irritate skin than synthetic fabrics. Choose certified organic cotton when possible to avoid pesticide residues.

What bedding is safe for newborns?

The safest newborn bedding is a tight-fitting cotton sheet on a firm mattress with no blankets, pillows or bumpers. Keep the crib uncluttered to reduce suffocation risks. Once mobile, add a wearable blanket for warmth but avoid loose covers.

How do you make and use natural reusable dryer sheets?

Grab some old t-shirts and cut up a few squares. Pop them in a jar with some distilled white vinegar and add a couple drops of nice smelling essential oils (lavender's a good one). Let them soak up that natural softening mixture.

When it's laundry day, toss a few soaked squares in with your clothes rather than using store-bought sheets. Those contain chemicals that could irritate skin, especially a baby's delicate complexion. Your homemade sheets will make clothes smell fresh without any funky health risks. Rotate new squares in as the old ones lose their oomph.

Are fabric softener dryer sheets safe for baby clothes?

No, fabric softener sheets are not safe for baby clothes. Dryer sheets can cause skin irritation as they contain fragrances and dyes. Even gentle or regular detergent sheets leave chemical residue that is toxic to babies. Avoid these and choose a natural alternative like wool dryer balls.

What baby products or baby gear help with preparing for a newborn?

Focus on organic newborn clothes, soft cotton sheets, safe car seats and baby carriers, and baby toys that develop motor skills. Prioritize chemical-free products when preparing for baby arrival, as dryer sheets are toxic, especially for delicate newborn skin.

Further Reading

Can you use dryer balls and dryer sheets together?

Why is the dryer making my clothes smell burnt?

Will essential oils on my dryer balls stain clothes?

What is the best laundry detergent for sensitive skin?

Detergent sheets vs liquid laundry—who wins?

How can I keep my sheets from balling up in the dryer?

How to recharge wool dryer balls

How to add essential oils to dryer balls