Ingenious Uses for Dryer Sheets that Make Travel Easier

Cindy Richards Avatar

A caucasian family is loading their suitcases into the car for a road trip. The father is tall and has a full beard and the mother has red hair in a pony tail. The children are in the back seat, looking out of the trunk at their parents and smiling.

Travel gadgets that take up little space, serve a number of travel needs and cost next to nothing? Sign us up, please. One of our favorite travel hacks is dryer sheets. It’s amazing how many uses for dryer sheets we’ve found when traveling with kids. From keeping suitcases smelling fresh to wiping crayon marks off the walls of a vacation rental, here are 15 ingenious reasons to pack dryer sheets for your next trip.

Uses for dryer sheets - keep your suitcases smelling fresh between trips.
Photo credit: Yvonne Jasinski

1. Keep Suitcases Smelling Fresh

It can be awhile between trips. If those suitcases are stored in the aging attic or the musty basement, they can absorb odors. Just slip a dyer sheet inside before you put them away to await your next trip.

If you’re a camper, put a new dryer sheet inside the sleeping bags before you store them to await the next camping trip.

2. Dryer Sheets Can Deodorize Shoes

Before you pack those shoes, tuck a dryer sheet inside each one. Then put the shoes in a bag — one you got from the grocery or an actual shoe bag if you have one of those — before packing them in the suitcase.

The dryer sheet will hold down that nasty shoe smell and the bag will keep the shoe dirt off of your clothes.

3. Uses for Dryer Sheets: Repel Bugs

For years, gardeners have had a secret use for dryer sheets: They would tuck a sheet in a pocket while working in the garden to repel gnats and insects.

But you don’t have to be a gardener to get the same benefits. Just wipe the dryer sheets on your clothes, then tuck one in a pocket in case you need more mosquito repellent later.

I especially love this hack since I truly dislike spraying myself and my kids with insect repellent.

Hotel room in Morocco
Photo credit: Cindy Richards

4. Freshen Hotel Rooms

Who knows what’s been in those hotel room dresser drawers? Before you start loading in your unmentionables, put a dryer sheet in the drawer. It will help keep your clothes smelling fresh.

You can also slip a dryer sheet between the linens on the bed to keep them smelling fresh. My step-mom adds a couple of dryer sheets to the sofa bed in her vacation home before she closes it up after a guest goes home.

Does the hotel room trash can smell a little funky? Drop a dryer sheet in there, too. If the TV screen is dusty, give that a swipe with a used fabric softener sheet to clean it. As an added benefit, the sheet will repel dust so you may not have to do it again!

5. Refresh the Car

Tuck a dryer sheet beneath the seats in the car. It is always nice to have a fresh scent in the car, but it’s particularly nice on those long road trips when you feel like you’re living in the car, eating half your meals in the car and generating lots of garbage in the car.

These air fresheners are especially helpful when you eat a banana in the car and leave the peel in the car. Overnight. In the South. In the summer. Ask me how I know that.

6. Dryer Sheets Can De-Cling You, Too!

Dryer sheets aren’t just for getting rid of static cling in dryers. Keep a dryer sheet in your purse or backpack and use it to rub over pants and skirts to reduce static cling.

Same for your hair. Rub a dryer sheet over your hair to calm fly-away static electricity during the winter. Rub it on your hairbrush and comb to de-static those as well.

And rub them inside hats before you put them on your head to help hold down the static after you get inside and take off the cap.

7. De-Bug Your Car Window

After that road trip, the car is likely to be covered in dead bugs. Dryer sheets are the answer! Use warm water to wet a dryer sheet, then apply a little elbow grease to wipe the grill and windshield until all of those nasty critters are gone.

8. Dryer Sheets Make Great Beach Cleaner Uppers

The only bad part about going to the beach is bringing home the sand. Dryer sheets to the rescue! Rub them over your legs and feet to remove the dry sand before anyone is allowed back in the car.

Read More: The Complete Beach Vacation Packing List.

Use a dryer sheet to start a campfire and you'll be roasting marshmallows in no time!
Use a dryer sheet to start a campfire and you’ll be roasting marshmallows in no time! Photo: Pixabay

9. Dryer Sheets Make Great Fire Starters

If you’re going camping, you’re gonna want a campfire! Put a couple of dryer sheets under the kindling and you’ll be roasting marshmallows in no time.

10. Clean a Sticky Iron

Who knows where that hotel room iron has been. Or when it was last cleaned. Or what it was used to iron.

Use one of those dryer sheets you packed to clean the iron before you use it to press your favorite blouse. Simply turn the iron on low heat then wipe it with the dryer sheet until the sheet glides smoothly. Any stickiness or dirt will be gone.

2 yellow lab puppies
Photo credit: Cindy Richards

11. Use Dryer Sheets to Remove Pet Hair

I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t seem to matter what I do, I always manage to pack some pet hair in my suitcase. Hubby says its endearing that I bring a little of Hank and Millie along with me. But I would rather carry their memory in my heart than on my black pants.

All it takes is one dryer sheet rubbed over the clothes to remove those errant hairs and lint.

12. Get Rid of Deodorant Stains

Those white marks on the underarms of your favorite black dress — the one you always pack for fancy dinners on vacation? Just swipe with a dryer sheet.

13. Use Them Throughout the Vacation Rental

Dryer sheets have a ton of kitchen uses. They are the best way to clean up dry spills, like flour, on the counter. Plus, they make it easy to clean dirty pots. Just fill the pot with water and add a dryer sheet. Let it soak while you go out to play — the longer it soaks, the easier it will be to clean the pot.

Dryer sheets also make great dusters and, unlike paper towels, you can reuse the dryer sheets over and over.

Plus, if the kids get a little antsy on a rainy day and decide to draw on the walls, dryer sheets are the best DIY hack for cleaning crayon marks, gunk and smudges.

Either bring a box of dryer sheets with you when you pack for the week at the beach, or add it to the Amazon order you’ll have delivered after you arrive.

14. Keep Some in the Diaper Bag

Dryer sheets are the quickest way to get rid of the diaper smells. Keep them handy at all times!

15. Clean Your Screens

As much as we like to believe we will get everyone to turn off their screens and tune into family on our vacation, that’s likely not going to be the reality. We’ll all be looking at screens at least some of the time, which means the screens are going to be full of fingerprints. Use the dryer sheets to wipe those fingerprints away.

Do you pack dryer sheets when you travel? Tell us how you use them.

Cindy Richards Avatar
Cindy Richards is a Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist who serves as the Editor-in-Chief of She also is the mom of two now grown kids who have traveled with her since that first, fateful plane ride when one preschooler discovered a barf bag in his seat pocket and his sister, finding none in hers, demanded, “I want a barf bag too!” She has been a reporter, editor and columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune, an editor at Chicago Parent and Catalyst Chicago and an instructor in the graduate school at Northwestern’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism.
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5 responses

  1. Fire starters…who knew! Thanks for these many practical uses for something so easy to carry with you on a trip. I will carry a few on my upcoming vacay at the end of the month!

  2. Thanks for this one, Thanks 😀

  3. Wow, I had no idea they repel bugs or can be used to get rid of bad smell! And I just use them to wipe my computer screen or my glasses… 😉 Thanks for sharing these precious tips, I’ll definitely take more or those next time I go on a trip!

  4. I love dryer sheets. I always put them in my suitcase before I put it away when we get home. Helps freshen up the bag for its next use.

    1. What a great idea Beth, one to add to the list. Suitcases can get “funky” smelling after all that travel, and a dryer sheet will keep them fresh!

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