Apparently, I'm a slow learner. I can't think of another reason it took so many years to associate my sons' and husband's itchy skin problems with the dryer sheets I used. All the skin problems disappeared once I stopped using fabric softeners and dryer sheets.
One would expect that such a life-impacting revelation would have banned those pesky sheets from our home. But that's not true.
I keep a box of fragrance-free dryer sheets on hand for many other uses—indoors, outdoors, and in the garage, too. (Even without fragrance, dryer sheets pose a problem for my family when used in the dryer with clothing, sheets, and towels.)
A used dryer sheet is ideal for many of the applications that follow. However, if you, like me, don't end up with used sheets from the dryer, simply soak a new sheet in water and then wring it out. Most of the time you want the sheet to be damp, anyway.
Pro tip: If you are sensitive to dryer sheets, be sure to wear rubber or latex gloves when handling a new sheet.
Many of our readers have confirmed that dryer sheets will repel both spiders and flies. Keep a few extra sheets in clothes hampers and around the laundry area and you can kiss all those spiders goodbye.
Slip a dryer sheet into your suitcases while they are in storage and they won't smell musty when you take them out to use.
Anytime you're outdoors —whether playing, gardening, hiking, or just picnicking in the park—consider slipping a dryer sheet in your back pocket. Research has shown that a couple of chemical compounds commonly found in the sheets (linalool and beta-citronellol) will deter the gnats and mosquitoes from hanging around, making this a reasonable and easier-to-use alternative to spray-on bug repellent.
Linalool is naturally found in lavender and basil, so cosmetic and perfume companies use it in their products for its flowerlike odor. Linalool is toxic to some types of insects. Beta-citronellol is found in citronella and repels mosquitoes.
There are reports out there that say new dryer sheets cut into 1-inch strips and tied to the tips of greenery or trees will repel plant-munching deer. I would deerly (!) love any reader reports to either confirm or deny this claim.
Wipe down your blinds with a dryer sheet to prevent static electricity and to keep dust from collecting. Grab that dryer sheet with a pair of kitchen tongs and use that to quickly run over each slat. It's quick, easy and picks up the dust efficiently.
Dryer sheets can help remove gunk from the bottom of an iron. With the setting on low, rub the iron over the dryer sheet until the residue disappears, and you're left with a pristine soleplate.
Dryer sheets make great dusting and cleaning cloths for television and computer screens. Not only will they clean the screens, but the antistatic properties will also treat the screens to repel rather than attract dust. Dryer sheets are designed to reduce static cling so they help keep dust from resettling on television and computer screens.
Boots, sneakers, and tennis shoes can get really smelly. Pop a sheet into each of your less-than-fresh-smelling pair, and then place them in a plastic bag. Tie it closed. In the morning, your shoes will smell so much better. For kids' shoes or ladies' pumps, you can cut each sheet in half and still get great results.
Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments, and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living." Copyright 2020 Creators.com