How to make your laundry smell good without dryer sheets

Essential oils all the way!

A ombre background with a picture of a laundry room
(Image credit: Future / Beth Mahoney)

Fresh sheets and towels are some of life's little pleasures, and it's totally possible to make your laundry smell good without dryer sheets. There’s something so relaxing about slipping under bedding or folding up clean clothes, and you don't need to rely on these sheets to get the same result. 

The downside of most commercial dryer sheets (and scented detergents and fabric conditioners, for that matter) is that they come with a heck of a lot of chemicals. Plus, they can be a li’l on the spendy side

If you’re a sensitive skin girly, like moi, or you're on a budget, then nice-smelling dryer sheets may not be an option. If your laundry is not smelling great every time it comes out of the wash, you'll want to figure out how to clean your washing machine first. After that, if you're still seeking out a scent boost sans sheets, we have you covered. Here are all the ways you can make your laundry smell great without dryer sheets. 

How to make your laundry smell good without dryer sheets

We've compiled five different ways you can get your clothing pile or ball of sheets smelling great. From essential oils to dryer bags, here's what we recommend.

1. Use essential oils 

A great alternative to commercial dryer sheets and other scented laundry products is to use essential oils. They’re all natural (so ideal for sensitive skin) and they’re far cheaper to use than buying pre-made dryer sheets and other scented formulas. Yep, really! If you need a few bottles, this fan-favorite set from Amazon has over 90,800 five-star ratings. 

To use essential oils in your laundry, you have two options. You can add a few drops to the washer along with your detergent, or you can fill a spray bottle with water and four or five drops, then spritz your laundry before you wash it. 

2. Look for naturally-scented laundry soaps 

There are lots of naturally-scented, non-toxic laundry soaps available, like the top-rated Mrs. Meyers Clean Day detergent, which you can snag on Amazon. These add a nice fragrance to your laundry and are a great alternative to dryer sheets. Honestly, I use these myself and they're a game-changer: you get all the scent and a lot less chemicals. They're a real win-win. 

3. Try reusable dryer bags 

Reusable dryer bags are a much more affordable alternative than dryer sheets, and they come in a wide range of scents too. Etsy has a good range of options, including this set of three dryer sachets that "smell fabulous," according to reviewers. All you need to do is pop them in the dryer (like a dryer ball) and then reuse them with every load. When they start losing their scent, you can refresh them with a few drops of essential oils, too!

4. Use wool dryer balls 

Another great pick for making sure that your laundry smells fresh is to use wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets. These li’l balls of wool are reusable and give laundry a fresh smell. You can purchase them with no fragrance — like this highly-rated set from Walmart — and then add your own. I have these at home and I like to add a few drops of essential oil (vanilla or lavender are my go-tos) for clothes, sheets, and towels you'll want to keep sniffing. 

5. Make your own dryer sheets  

Alternatively, you can opt to make your own dryer sheets. This gives you the chance to control the level of fragrance and the ingredients used. A simple way to do this is to add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to a damp wash cloth, then place the cloth in the dryer with your laundry. It's that simple!

Beth Mahoney
Staff Writer

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a Staff Writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.