Spring Cleaning: Make Your Own Carpet Powder & Dryer Sheets

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As a family, we’ve been doing our best to cut back on clutter. That doesn’t always work out as well as I’d like. So spring is here, and it’s time for us to get in gear and get our home in order. For the most part, that means getting rid of things we no longer want or need, but it also means a thorough deep cleaning of the house. In the process, we’ve started using two DIY items that I thought I’d share with you.

Carpet Freshener

Years ago, my husband and I would stock up on boxes of Arm & Hammer carpet powder. We loved sprinkling it throughout the house about an hour before we vacuumed, because the fragrance would last all day. It really made the house feel clean, but we have no idea what ingredients are used to create those fragrances. Recently, my husband decided to try making his own.

The formula is simple: Baking soda mixed with a few drops of essential oil in the fragrance(s) of your choice.

My husband chose to mix a little orange and peppermint oil. He used an old seasoning container to sprinkle it throughout the house. I couldn’t believe how great it smelled — though we’ve made bath salts before, so I’m not sure why I was so surprised. Like the store-bought powder, the aroma lasted all day. But unlike store-bought powder, we knew exactly what was in it. If you’re looking for essential oils, you can pick them up at Whole Foods, health food stores, or online at Amazon. (aff)

Reusable Dryer Sheets

I absolutely hate taking clothes out of the dryer. Not because I’m lazy, but because I hate being shocked repeatedly. But I’m also not a fan of traditional dryer sheets that contain potential toxins. So we usually leave out the dryer sheets altogether and just bear the shocks. Dryer balls help a little, but not enough to ward off all the static.

A little while back, I found a simple tutorial for homemade dryer sheets from Northern Cheapskate. She also has a recipe for a fabric softening spray if you don’t want to make the sheets.

Again, the process is simple:

1. Cut absorbent scrap fabric into squares in the size(s) of your choosing. I used some organic cotton I had leftover, but you could use old towels or t-shirts. Pinking shears are ideal to make the edges less susceptible to fraying. But if you’re like me, you can just cut them with regular scissors.

2. Place your fabric squares in a container with a lid. I used an old baby wipes container that I’ve had since my daughter was an infant.

3. Mix 2 parts water to one part liquid fabric softener. For example, if you use 1 cup of softener, you’d use 2 cups of water. Pour a generous amount of your mixture over the fabric squares and close the container. Allow the fabric to absorb it for at least an hour before you use them.

4. Put one fabric sheet in the dryer per load of wet clothes (though I used 2 for my towels). When your load is dry, just put it aside for your next batch of dryer sheets. And if the remaining sheets in the container dry out, you can simply add a little water.

Not only did this work well for me — it worked BETTER than traditional dryer sheets or even dryer balls. My towels (normally the biggest sources of static) were soft and fluffy, and I didn’t get shocked once! I also noticed that my daughter’s blankets came out much softer than usual.  Given the fact that I had very little fabric softener on hand, this method allowed me to stretch the bottle a lot further than it would have gone had I poured it directly into the washing machine.

I’d say that makes for a win-win.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Walmart Moms program. Walmart has provided me with compensation to share a DIY spring cleaning tip with you. I purchased the baking soda used in the recipe at Walmart. Participation is voluntary and as usual, all opinions are my own.

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26 comments… add one
  • Monique March 14, 2011, 5:15 pm

    Great ideas. I have a dog so for carpet cleaner I’ve used a combo of 1/2 cup borax, 1/2 cup baking soda, and lavender essential oil. I look forward to trying the dryer sheet recipe. Thanks!

    • jennae March 15, 2011, 11:42 am

      Thanks Monique! I never would’ve thought to include borax, but that’s a great idea!

      • ann flores April 4, 2011, 3:15 pm

        Not only does that smell good, but the additional value is that 24 Mule Team Borax kills fleas in your carpet and also their eggs. It dehydrates them….really works and no poisons in the carpet to hurt your pets!!

    • Linda April 4, 2011, 2:59 pm

      I also have a dog. I’ve alway’s heard baking
      soda is good for alot of thing’s also. The oil
      is what I don’t understand. Mixing oil in with
      the powder’s doesn’t that make it lumpy if
      you will, and does it vacuum up well?

      Thank You

      • jennae April 4, 2011, 4:19 pm

        Linda, with essential oils, you only have to add a few drops to create a strong fragrance. As long as you mix well, it won’t be lumpy. And it vaccuums up with no problem 🙂

  • Sheena March 15, 2011, 6:28 pm

    You are like all up in my head! I was just thinking about making my own carpet freshener. I love the Arm & Hammer and Glade powders, but I’d prefer something more natural since Jay likes to roll all on the floor. I’m scared it may result in an itch fest. We use dryer sheets and every time I throw one in, I wonder what’s in them. I feel an ounce of guilt. Thank you for sharing these wonderful tips!

    • jennae March 15, 2011, 8:10 pm

      Sheena, I know what you mean. My daughter is forever rolling around on the carpet, and we try to be very careful about what we put on it.

      And although we haven’t used regular dryer sheets in a while, these are still better than the Ecover or Seventh Gen ones that you still have to throw away. Glad these were timely for you 🙂

  • Linsey Knerl March 16, 2011, 10:31 am

    Wow! These ideas are both new to me! I love the idea of using essential oils for the carpet powder, and it seems like the baking soda would be less gritty than the commercial stuff. I have just the oil I want to use for my carpet (a nice sea breeze blend that I bought for adding to my disposable dryer sheets.) Now, I think I can use your tips to get rid of the disposable sheets altogether.

    Do you think I could add essential oil (just a drop or two) to the homemade dryer sheet liquid? I’ve got a bunch of free scent-free softener I need to use up, but miss the smells…

    • jennae March 16, 2011, 11:12 am

      Glad I could help, Linsey! I think you could definitely add some essential oil to your dryer sheet mixture. As long as you add it to the liquid, I don’t see why it would be an issue. Just make sure it’s something that doesn’t cause skin sensitivity for you or your family and you should be OK 🙂

  • Jamie Jones March 30, 2011, 7:38 am

    The other carpet/air freshening trick you can try is to take a cotton ball and put a few drops of your favorite essential oil on it and then drop the cotton ball in your vacuum bag or canister. As you vacuum it fills the air with the scent of the essential oil. Yum!

    For fabric softener, you can use plain white distilled vinegar in the rinse dispenser of your washing machine. (Your clothes won’t smell.) Then I take an old sock, fill it with golden flaxseed, pour a few drops of essential oil in there and then close it with a hair tie and toss it in the dryer. Your clothes will come out soft & static-free from the vinegar and lightly scented from the seed sock.

    And one more tip… (Sorry, I love to clean and get excited to share tips!) I keep a small spray bottle with plain water in my laundry room. If clothes ever come out with a bit of static, you just lightly mist the inside of the dryer or the offending piece of clothing and the static will disappear! Much safer & greener than coating your clothes with waxy fabric softener. Helps your clothes to last longer, too.

    That’s all for now! Love your blog. Just subscribed this morning. 🙂

  • Stephanie Jacobs April 4, 2011, 2:40 pm

    I love the dryer sheet idea, that is so great!! And it is great for the environment too, because that puts less paper products in the trash. I will absolutely be trying this out. Thanks

  • jackie April 4, 2011, 3:16 pm

    where can i find the oils.

    • jennae April 4, 2011, 4:21 pm

      Jackie, I tend to buy my essential oils at Whole Foods, but you can find them in just about any health food store, or online at Amazon or elsewhere. Here’s a link to some essential oils on Amazon: http://amzn.to/fz1URc

  • sunni April 4, 2011, 8:46 pm

    wonderful ideas. I have made my own dryer sheets but dont usually have any old material around. So I bought cheap washcloths and they work great.

  • candi April 4, 2011, 9:52 pm

    can u buy them at walmart (the oils)??? and love the dryer sheet idea bc my son has senstivities to dyes n detergent

    • jennae April 5, 2011, 8:56 am

      Candi, to my knowledge, Walmart doesn’t carry essential oils. They do have scented oils, but I have no idea what they use to make the fragrances. Pure essential oils are definitely safer.

  • Shey April 5, 2011, 12:19 am

    The carpet powder sounds like an excellent idea! But you really shouldn’t use any sort of fabric softener on your towels, it will actually coat your towels in a film and make them less absorbent! And you can just spray the mixture of water and softener in 2:1 on top of your wet clothes in the dryer. No sheet necessary! : )

    • jennae April 5, 2011, 8:57 am

      Shey, you’re the second person to say that, so it’s something I’ll definitely take into consideration 🙂 We used to use dryer balls, but the static was still unbearable.

  • fran April 5, 2011, 4:59 am

    GNC hs essential oils

  • kathymarie April 5, 2011, 7:28 am

    I have a black lab that is hard to wash in the Winter as I usually let her outside to dry off. Do you have any ideas on a waterless cleaner for her? Thanks.

    • jennae April 5, 2011, 9:02 am

      Kathy, I’ve never specifically used a waterless cleaner. I used to bathe my 4-pound dog with diluted Dr. Bronner’s castile soap when we still had him, but he was tiny. However, these 2 options seem to get really good reviews:

      – Miracle Coat Spray on Waterless Dog Shampoo: http://amzn.to/guuDHI
      – BioGroom Waterless Bath: http://amzn.to/fL1L7a

      I hope that helps!

  • bonnie cleckler April 5, 2011, 1:07 pm

    Thanks for sharing these recipes I will be using this. I love making my own!

  • Volisha April 5, 2011, 9:59 pm

    cotton balls with vanilla poured on them remove odors from your fridge.

  • Martha April 6, 2011, 11:08 am

    For many years I have used home-made dryer sheets. I cut old washcloths into quarters (to distinguish them from good washcloths). I spread them with full-strength liquid fabric softener, and let them dry. Toss one in with each dryer load. These can be used for at least a dozen loads before being re-coated. Use the dryer balls for towels, so they stay absorbent. I think there’s still enough fabric softener residue in the dryer, since I never have a problem with towel static.

  • Autumn December 21, 2012, 1:10 pm

    Love the idea for the dryer sheets!!! I just made my own fabric softener so this will help add to the money savings a lot. Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

  • Walden Harbour February 24, 2015, 8:27 am

    This article really helped me. My wife loved it and we’re both grateful for the helpful tips you provided. Thank you!

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