If you want a short answer, then no. Dryer sheets have no place on a baby’s clothes. Regular dryer sheets contain chemicals that can potentially irritate a baby’s skin. Having said that, not all chemicals are harmful. All the chemicals found on the label of a pack of a dryer sheet are FDA approved. Moreover, there are a couple of skin-friendlier alternatives to traditional dryer sheets.
If you really have to use a dryer sheet for your baby’s clothing, I’d suggest going for free and clear dryer sheets.
I have seen a lot of parents using them to keep their toddler’s clothing soft and static-free, without any repercussions.
Hence, dryer sheets aren’t 100% unsafe as long as you stick to the dye-free, fragrance-free ones.
The side effects (or lack thereof) also depend on how old the baby is and how sensitive his skin is. Let me elaborate-
Dryer Sheets for Newborn’s Clothes
Irrespective of how organic and eco-friendly the dryer sheet manufacturer claims it to be, it’s a big no-no for a newborn. An infant’s skin is 20-30% thinner than that of an adult’s.
They are basically flesh and blood flower petals, ultra-delicate. Therefore, even a minuscule presence of chemicals can irritate their skin easily. All dryer sheets contain some chemicals.
It’s just that some brands use less questionable ingredients than others. Dryer sheets aren’t a necessity, at least not for a newborn’s clothes, blankets, or bed sheets.
Dryer Sheets for Toddler’s Clothes
If you are going to use dryer sheets specially made for sensitive skin, it should be okay to use them on your toddler’s clothes. However, if your kid has had a history of serious skin issues like eczema, you better lay off the dryer sheets.
However, if your kid has never any notable skin issues apart from mild diaper rashes from trash disposable diapers, you can give dryer sheets a try.
Make sure to only use free and clear sheets made of plant-based materials. Strictly avoid the ones with perfume, be it artificial or natural.
Dryer Sheets and Flame Retardant Children’s Pajamas – Fact-Checking
There has been a lot of talk about dryer sheets reducing the effectiveness of flame retardant chemicals on baby pajamas. In theory, that’s true. That’s why you should never use dryer sheets on flame retardant clothing.
Clothes for kids from age 9 to size 14 have to be flame-resistant by law. To meet the requirement, most manufacturers today use polyester as it is a naturally flame-resistant material.
The amendment made by Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2000 also allows the use of cotton and cotton blend material for tight-fitting baby pajamas.
Therefore, unless your toddler’s clothing is treated with chemicals, you can use dryer sheets without the added worry of degrading the flame resistance of the material.
How to Choose Safe Dryer Sheets for Baby Clothes
As discussed previously, free and clear dryer sheets are a relatively safer option for a baby’s clothing. Carefully check the label to make sure the sheets are hypoallergenic and free of perfume, dye, paraben, phthalates, phosphates, and VOCs.
You don’t want any substance on the dryer sheets that can potentially leave a residue on the clothes or in the dryer. I’d specifically suggest looking for dryer sheets made of
Safer Alternatives to Dryer Sheets
Dryer sheets are convenient. I will give you that. But it’s not worth the risk if your kid has asthma or is prone to skin irritation. There are a couple of safer alternatives for effectively reducing static cling and improving fabric softness:
Wool Dryer Balls
Wool dryer balls are free of chemicals and do a good job at reducing static cling. These balls speed up the drying by creating gaps between the clothes in the dryer.
They also absorb moisture from the cloth and release them back inside the dryer, keeping the environment humid. Humidity helps to reduce static.
Static Eliminating Clothes
Static eliminating clothes are usually made of a polyester-nylon blend. They don’t contain any chemicals, so no worries about triggering allergies or rashes. You can use them on baby’s onesies, bedding as well as on your nursing tank tops. Combing static eliminating clothes with wool dryer balls will give you better results if you live in a dry climate.
Some DIY alternatives to dryer sheets include:
- Vinegar: Adding ¼ cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle will get rid of the static electricity and roughness in cloth fabric.
- Baking Soda: Sprinkle ½ cup to ¼ cup of baking soda onto the clothes before starting the wash cycle. Like vinegar, baking soda also prevents electrical charges, thus preventing the clothes from clinging to each other.
- Aluminum Foil: Roll up a sheet of aluminum foil into a ball and toss it in the washer. It will minimize static and keep the baby’s clothes fuzzy and crisp.
There’s no doubt that dryer sheets are the easiest and most effective way to reduce static cling and keep the clothes soft and fluffy. However, most children’s clothes are naturally soft, so using dryer sheets would be redundant.
Not to mention the chemical residue it leaves in the dryer and on the clothes can trigger a host of skin issues. Long story short, don’t use dryer sheets on baby clothes unless you are 100% sure of the sheet’s quality.