The Unexpected Reason Why A Dryer Sheet Might Appear In Your Mailbox

In spring 2021, some people have been finding dryer sheets inside of their mailboxes. Others intentionally put these sheets in their mailbox. Why are they putting them there? Although it seems like an underground message or prank, the surprisingly simple reason was revealed on Reddit. Learn why people across the U.S. put dryer sheets in their mailboxes.

Who Is Placing Dryer Sheets In Mailboxes?

A dryer sheet is inside a black mailbox.
Jayne/Pinterest
Jayne/Pinterest

Throughout the country, people have reported seeing a dryer sheet in their mailbox. Some warily removed it, only to find that it was a regular dryer sheet. Others left it as is.

These dryer sheets have raised many questions. Who was putting it there? Was it some strange prank for the internet?

They Appear At The Same Time Every Year

Oddly, the dryer sheets would only appear during certain months. In most places, the dryer sheets popped up in mailboxes during May and June.

Whoever is putting dryer sheets in mailboxes only does it during spring, at least in the U.S. But what reason could they possibly have? Why didn’t they appear during winter?

The Answer Appeared On Reddit, Of All Places

The Reddit app is next to Whatsapp and Instagram on a person's iPhone.
Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images
Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images

To many peoples’ surprise, the answer appeared on Reddit in April 2021. There, user u/istrx13 posted on the “You Should Know” subreddit. The subreddit shares facts and tips that people “should know” to improve their lives.

Some of the advice includes “Sikh temples can provide a free meal” and “Yellowstone is not ‘overdue’ for an eruption.” But this post was a little different.

Apparently, Postal Workers Put Them There

A postal worker puts mail into a mailbox.
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Oli Scarff/Getty Images

The user’s post was titled, “YSK (You should know) if you randomly see a dryer sheet in the back of your mailbox, your mail carrier put it there for a reason.”

That’s right. Postmen are putting dryer sheets in mailboxes for some reason. As you might have guessed, this caught a lot of peoples’ attention.

Why They Put It There

Yellowjackets crawl out of a nest.
Tim Graham/Getty Images
Tim Graham/Getty Images

According to the user, mailmen put dryer sheets in mailboxes to deter yellowjackets and wasps. These insects usually become active in spring when the weather warms, and they build nests in mailboxes.

“So please, if you one day randomly see a dryer sheet at the back of your mailbox, just know that your carrier more than likely put it there to deter these Satanic creatures from building their home in it,” the user wrote.

Was The Post Fake?

A person types on his laptop at a cafe.
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Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The post quickly garnered attention, gaining over 59,000 upvotes and 1,400 comments. But the attention also attracted skepticism.

Although the poster introduced himself with “Letter Carrier here,” many questioned whether he was a real mailman. Other postal workers claimed that they did not do this and doubted that it would work.

He Revealed Himself On TODAY

A mail carrier walks with his bag of mail.
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A few weeks after the post went live, the user was contacted by TODAY. As it turns out, he was a real postman–Chris Strickley.

Strickley has worked in the postal service for six years. Five years ago, he moved from Oregon to Idaho. There, he discovered the dryer sheet hack.

At First, Strickley Was Also Confused

During his first year on the job, Strickley was also confused by the dryer sheet phenomenon. “I began to see dryer sheets in people’s mailboxes at the start of spring,” he recalled.

“At first, I was confused but just left them in there.” But later, he discovered something when he returned to the post office.

But All Of His Coworkers Were Using Dryer Sheets

A person takes a dryer sheet from a box.
Samantha Lawson/Pinterest
Samantha Lawson/Pinterest

Later in his shift, Strickley realized that “my supervisor had a box of them on their desk.” His coworkers were taking some sheets as they passed by the desk.

That was when Strickley asked his supervisor about the sheets. “[I] found out they are a good deterrent for wasps and yellowjackets,” he told TODAY. “Ever since then, they’re a normal part of my spring and summer.”

Wasps Are A Huge Issue For Postal Workers

A wasp hovers above the sand.
blw Naturstudio/ullstein bild via Getty Images
blw Naturstudio/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Wasps and yellowjackets are a dangerous issue for postal workers. Because of the dark mailbox and tiny nests, many do not see the insects.

“I can’t tell you how many times, especially during this part of the year, where I’ve opened up a box to see a little nest with 3-5 Yellowjackets just chillin’,” Strickley wrote on Reddit.

Strickley Had Been Stung Multiple Times

A person's hands are covered in bees.
ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images
ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images

On his original Reddit post, Strickley claimed that yellowjackets and wasps frequently injure postmen. “If I’m really unlucky, they will have made their nest at the very back of the box so I wind up sticking my hand in not knowing they are there,” he wrote.

“Last year alone, I was stung ten times on ten separate occasions.” These stings can remain swollen for a week.

Why Does This Trick Work?

A close-up photo shows a yellowjacket on a hive.
Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images
Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images

Strickley claimed that wasps and yellowjackets “hate scented dryer sheets.” Postal workers put these sheets in mailboxes to prevent insects from entering.

Many dryer sheets are scented with essential oils like lavender and Moroccan oils. Most contain various chemicals that can be unhealthy for people with asthma, but only if you use them for clothes.

How You Can Do It

An open mailbox contains one letter.
Mick Haupt/Unsplash
Mick Haupt/Unsplash

When asked what kind of dryer sheets he uses, Strickley explained that the brand doesn’t matter. “The scent seems to be what deters them. So any scented dryer sheet should suffice!” he wrote.

You should also replace the dryer sheet occasionally. When the sheet loses its scent, swap it out, said Strickley.

It Won’t Work If Insects Are Already In There

Strickley emphasized that the dryer sheet hack is a “preventative measure.” If a wasp nest is already in the mailbox, putting a dryer sheet in won’t work (and could also get you stung).

“I’ve never tried when there’s a huge nest so I have no idea if it would work,” Strickley wrote. Put the sheet in before insects invade your mailbox.

This Is Not An Official Postmen Rule

A mailbox is labeled
Theo Wargo/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Although Strickley’s supervisor provided dryer sheets, this is not an official rule. A spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service told TODAY that not everyone does this.

“The social media post you are referring to is not a specific instruction or directive from the Postal Service,” they explained. But they do have other insect-related guidelines.

Postal Workers Might Warn You About A Nest

A postal worker smiles while checking a person's mailbox.
Mick Haupt/Unsplash
Mick Haupt/Unsplash

According to the U.S. Postal Service spokesperson, postal workers are required to report insect nests inside of mailboxes. They also must report the nest to their supervisor, who will try to contact the homeowner to get the nest removed.

In his post, Strickley said that he will tape a note to the homeowner’s door to warn them. But not every employee will do that.

What To Do If Wasps Are In Your Mailbox

A white mailbox is labeled
Mikaela Wiedenhoff/Unsplash
Mikaela Wiedenhoff/Unsplash

If you find insects in your mailbox, attach a note on top of it. Postal workers are trained to check the inside before reaching in, but it might be too dark to see the nest.

Contact your landlord immediately, or if you are the owner, call pest control. Do not try to remove the nest yourself.

But The Postal Service Does Have Preventative Measures

A delivery driver opens a person's mailbox.
PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images
Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Although the Postal Service does not provide dryer sheets, they have guidelines to prevent insect stings. For instance, postal workers cannot wear perfume or shaving cream with scents that might attract insects.

Sweetened foods and drinks can attract bees, so the Postal Service warns against those. They also permit employees to use insecticide as needed.

Why Do Insects Enter The Mailbox?

A person removes mail from a U.S. mailbox.
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Wasps and yellowjackets will build their nests just about anywhere, as long as it has a sturdy base and some protection for their young. Many people find nests on their overhangs and porches.

Insects might choose the mailbox because it is shaded, sheltered, and unwavering. If you see a lot of insects swarming your mailbox, they might be making a nest.

Don’t Take The Sheets Out Of The Mailbox

In his Reddit post, Strickley advised people not to remove the dryer sheet if they find one in their mailbox. Know that postmen put them in as a precaution.

“I’ve had to put dryer sheets in a few different boxes on my route and the customers have been removing them,” he said in a comment. “So I just wanted to make a PSA.”

How Do Dryer Sheets Work If Other Scents Are Banned?

Boxes of dryer sheets are stacked at a supermarket.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Postal Service discourages “flowery” scents that attract bees and wasps. If these scents attract insects, why do dryer sheets repel them?

Dryer sheets have a variety of scents, many of which come from chemicals, which might make them different. However, this confusion has led some experts to doubt Strickley’s life hack.

Does The Dryer Sheet Hack Work?

Entomologist Sonja L. Swiger told TODAY that there have been no studies about dryer sheets and insects. Beyond anecdotes, there is no proof that scented dryer sheets repel insects.

Although Sonja said that the hack is possibly effective, she also stated, “The science does not add up and it would seem that if this was a viable option there would be more discussion on it.”

Some Scientists Say That It Could Backfire

A black and yellow mud dauber is pictured on a leaf.
Getty Images
Getty Images

Dr. Qing-He Zhang, the Director of Research at Sterling International, believes that the dryer sheet hack might not work. In fact, it could even attract insects.

Zhang claimed that insects might enjoy the “flower-like” smell. “[It is] highly unlikely that yellowjackets would be repelled by the perfume-y smell of the dryer sheets,” he wrote in a 2013 blog post.

But There Is Also Some Evidence For It

A container of Bounce dryer sheets is open.
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Despite Zhang’s claim, there is some evidence to support the dryer sheet hack. In 2013, a study in Pest Management Science discovered that a combination of essential oils deterred yellowjackets.

This particular combination was rosemary, geranium, lemongrass, and clove. A similar scent might keep yellowjackets away, as Strickley had claimed.

Despite What Strickley Said, The Brand Might Matter

A box of Gain dryer sheets hangs on the side of the dryer.
Rhiannon Moore/Pinterest
Rhiannon Moore/Pinterest

When WUSA9 News caught wind of the post, they reached out to David Mizejewski with the Naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation. He was skeptical of Strickley’s advice.

“There are many brands of dryer sheets and surely they’re not all made with the exact same ingredients,” Mizejewski said. “What ingredients in a dryer sheet would have a repellent effect? Why haven’t pest control companies capitalized on this ingredient?”

This Is Not The First Time People Used This Hack

Strickley is not the only person to bring up the dryer sheet hack on social media. In 2019, Facebook user Staci Hoppes posted a photo of a dryer sheet in her mailbox for a similar reason.

Instead of repelling wasps, she said that the sheets ward off ants. She told TODAY that is has worked for ants, but she hasn’t tested it on other insects.

No Need To Buy Air Fresheners Any More

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Photo Credit: Fake_Trades_XD / Reddit
Photo Credit: Fake_Trades_XD / Reddit

Dryer sheets smell fantastic, which is why we always stick our faces into our warm laundry when it comes fresh out of the dryer and take a big sniff. So why stop at freshening your clothes? Dryer sheets are the perfect replacement for air fresheners and all you need is a fan to do it.

Simply unfold and stick a few sheets to the back of a fan and you have an inexpensive air freshener that will last for weeks. This hack is especially good if you want to freshen up a basement or a room that gets little airflow.

Get Shiny Chrome Appliances

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Photo Credit: Elizabeth Reynolds / Pinterest
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Reynolds / Pinterest

The moisturizing part of dryer sheets can work on any stainless steel or chrome appliance. If you’re sick of looking at handprints or smudges covering the metal then you can rely on a dryer sheet to get it sparkling again.

All you have to do is rub your metal down with a sheet and it should get any smudges right out. It’s the perfect hack for anyone with a fridge and kids with hands that seem to leave prints everywhere.

De-Grease Your Pots And Pans

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Photo Credit: Elizabeth Reynolds / Pinterest
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Reynolds / Pinterest

Easily de-grease your kitchenware using only a little hot water and a dryer sheet. The sheet will pick up any errant grease that’s sticking around long after the food scum has left. So ditch the scrubby pad because dryer sheets have you covered and will leave your cookery looking brand spanking new.

Dryer sheets are truly a mysterious household superhero because even though they don’t disinfect anything, there’s something in their chemical makeup that helps them stand up to grease on pots and pans.

Keep Your Scissors Sharp

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Photo Credit: @randomlies / Unsplash
Photo Credit: @randomlies / Unsplash

If you ever feel like you’re living in a house filled with scissors that are just never sharp enough, don’t go to the store and pick up an expensive sharpener. For a quick fix, reach for your handy dandy dryer sheets.

Simply wipe your scissors with a dryer sheet a couple of times on both blades and those puppies will sharpen right up. Be sure to wear protective gloves while you do it.

Get Those Pesky Mosquitoes To Stay Away

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Photo Credit: @cwehrmeier / Unsplash
Photo Credit: @cwehrmeier / Unsplash

You or someone in your family may be one of those people who’s constantly getting bitten any time they go outdoors in the summer. If you’re tired of those itchy red lumps, those stinky citronella candles, and applying bug spray constantly, try out a dryer sheet.

All you have to do is stick a few in your pocket and mosquitoes will give you a wide berth. It’s the less chemical-ridden, less stinky, and generally more discreet way to keep bugs at bay so you can enjoy the great outdoors.

Don’t Let Deodorant Stains Demoralize You

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Photo Credit: Elizabeth Reynolds / Pinterest
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Reynolds / Pinterest

Imagine this: it’s morning, you’ve just started your morning routine and are getting dressed, you put on a black shirt and accidentally smeared a ton of white deodorant right around the hem and had to change. We’ve all been there and it’s rough.

With dryer sheets, you don’t have to change or work away at the deodorant stain for what feels like forever. Just rub a dryer sheet over it and the stain will be lifted almost instantly, so don’t sweat it anymore.

Say Goodbye To Your Lint Roller

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Photo Credit: @sarahdesignsco / Unsplash
Photo Credit: @sarahdesignsco / Unsplash

Most of us are already aware that dryer sheets are a clothing hero. They keep our threads smelling fresh and keep away static but they can also trick people into thinking that you don’t have pets.

Ditch your lint roller because dryer sheets are your new go-to for picking up lint off your clothing. All you have to do is wipe one over your body and voila, you can fool everyone into thinking you have an endless supply of lint rollers.

Stop Hat Hair At Its Root

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Photo Credit: ketobmugbbread / Pinterest
Photo Credit: ketobmugbbread / Pinterest

Winter is a great season filled with hot chocolate, beautiful snow, holiday decor, and staticky hair that just won’t stop standing on end no matter what you do to it. If you’re sick of removing your hat and being stuck with a head full of untamable hair all day then you need to invest in some dryer sheets.

Simply take a sheet and rub the inside of your hat to reduce static and that’s it. It’s the easy way to make sure that your hair looks as good as it did in the mirror that morning even after being outside.

Give Dusty Blinds The Boot

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Photo Credit: @mattalaniz / Unsplash
Photo Credit: @mattalaniz / Unsplash

There is something magical in dryer sheets that repels dust and all you have to do is simply wipe down your blinds a couple of times with a sheet and it’ll stop dust from accumulating.

Dryer sheets are probably one of the least repulsive things to us—they just smell so good and do so much good for our clothes that we’re inclined to love everything about them. Dust, however, dust avoids dryer sheets avoid like they have the plague.

They Soften Clothes…And Your Feet?

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Photo Credit: @8moments / Unsplash
Photo Credit: @8moments / Unsplash

The chemical in dryer sheets that make your clothing soft is stearic acid, which isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds. It’s found in cocoa butter and many other lotions and moisturizers and it’s what keeps your clothes soft. So it’s only natural that something found in lotions can be used as a foot cream.

Hear me out, if you suffer from dry feet especially during those cold winter months but don’t want to book a pedicure all you have to do is grab a dryer sheet. Simply wipe a sheet over the dry parts of your feet and they’ll feel moisturized and soft all day long.

Use Dryer Sheets For Washing Your Child’s Stuffed Animals

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Photo Credit: @kellysikkema / Unsplash
Photo Credit: @kellysikkema / Unsplash

Is your kid’s favorite stuffed animal looking a little sad and smelling a little tool-loved recently? But you don’t want to wash it because that always brings the waterworks? Well, reach for dryer sheets instead of the starting the wash cycle.

Dryer sheets don’t necessarily replace a good wash of your child’s toy because they don’t actually disinfect, but if all the stuffed animal needs is a little freshening up because it’s looking a little tired after spending 24/7 with your toddler, then dryer sheets should be your go-to.

Keep Sewing Threads From Getting Tangled

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Photo Credit: @krisatomic / Unsplash
Photo Credit: @krisatomic / Unsplash

Clothing is made of threads and dryer sheets are used to, in part, keep our clothes from sticking together. So it makes sense that a dryer sheet can keep your sewing threads from getting all tangled up. If you’re tired of digging through your sewing kit for a usable thread or spending a crazy amount of time digging your thumbs into a knot, then this is the hack for you.

All you have to do is put a dryer sheet into your sewing kit and your sewing threads will never get tangled again.

Keep Your Plant Soil In Hole-y Pots With A Dryer Sheet

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Photo Credit: Elizabeth Reynolds / Pinterest
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Reynolds / Pinterest

While we’ve been talking about all the wonderful hacks that dryer sheet’s chemical makeup can do around your home, we’re kind of forgetting that their shape as a sheet is super handy as well. In fact, they can really help you out around the garden.

If you’ve got a planter outside that’s having a hard time keeping the soil inside itself, don’t throw it out. Instead, put a dryer sheet at the bottom of the pot to keep the plant happy and intact.

Shoo Away Stinky Shoes

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Photo Credit: YouTube / HGTV
Photo Credit: YouTube / HGTV

We all know what it’s like to slip off a pair of our favorite shoes and be greeted by the mother of all the worst smells in the world. You may have decided to never wear that pair again or maybe you’re going to risk them falling apart by washing them. Save a pair of shoes the easy way by relying on dryer sheets.

All you have to do is stick a couple of sheets into your shoes and you’ll be rid of that annoying shoe odor. Dorothy wishes she knew this for those used red heels!

Save The Bees And Your Backyard Bashes

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Photo Credit: @vincent_keiman_ni / Unsplash
Photo Credit: @vincent_keiman_ni / Unsplash

We all love bees and want to save them, however, we also probably know someone who’s scared of them or allergic. To avoid ruining your outdoor BBQ bash while still respecting the most important organism on the planet, all you have to do is stash a couple of dryer sheets in the area.

You can place them under the patio cushions, under chairs, or really in any concealed place that guests and food will be. The smell repels bees so you can eat and bee merry.

Don’t Panic Over Crayon Doodles On Walls

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Photo Credit: Julie McNay / Pinterest
Photo Credit: Julie McNay / Pinterest

Crayons, walls, and children mix well together. A little too well. Kids just take to walls with their crayons like moths to a flame and they’re little Picassos when they do it. Unfortunately, you and your walls probably don’t appreciate the art as much as they do.

To keep the doodling on the page and off the walls, all you have to do is take a dryer sheet and rub away at the crayon marks. They’ll come right off with only a few wipes.

Let Your Inner Artist Out With Clean Paint Brushes

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Photo Credit: @jovanaliovac / Unsplash
Photo Credit: @jovanaliovac / Unsplash

Anyone who’s painted for any length of time knows that the biggest hassle to deal with are those paintbrushes that you have to clean when you’re done. It sometimes can hours of you scrubbing with your hands under the tap before you can really get them clean. Save yourself some work and trust in dryer sheets instead.

All you have to do is soak your dirty brushes in a container of warm water with a dryer sheet and the paint will magically come right off and you can get painting again.

Say Goodbye To Gum Stuck In The Dryer

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Photo Credit: @sanasaidi / Unsplash
Photo Credit: @sanasaidi / Unsplash

If someone in your family is guilty of forgetting to take things out of their pockets before putting their clothes in the dryer then this is the hack for you. Sure, picking up little things like bobby pins or coins is annoying, but the real hair-puller is melted gum stuck to the inside of your dryer.

To get rid of that gross and sticky clingy gum, all you have to do is wet a dryer sheet and get to work on that gum. It’ll come right off and hopefully won’t happen again.

Don’t Let The Diaper Trash Stink Up The Place

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Photo Credit: @jilburr / Unsplash
Photo Credit: @jilburr / Unsplash

If you’ve ever had kids you know exactly how bonkers that diaper trashcan can start to smell. It’ll start to stink to high heaven with all the diapers in it and there’s not much you can do except hold your breath when you get within a few feet of it. Unless you grab a dryer sheet of course.

All you have to do is place a dryer sheet on the bottom of the trashcan and it’ll help eliminate the odor that diapers cause. So save your coin and don’t buy a deodorizer trashcan and, instead, just rely on dryer sheets.

Keep The Deer Away, Dear

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Photo Credit: @ditakesphotos / Unsplash
Photo Credit: @ditakesphotos / Unsplash

If you live out in a rural area, you know how magical it can be to look out into your backyard and see a deer walking through it. They’re really amazing creatures and we’re fortunate to have them, but sometimes you don’t want them walking through your property if you have dogs, small children, or are constantly using vehicles.

Deter deer by cutting up small strips of dryer sheets and hanging them around your property. They’re not hazardous, but the smell will repel any deer that come near.

No More Soap Scum!

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Pinterest/pcrocker2908
Pinterest/pcrocker2908

Over time, soap scum building up on your shower walls is practically inevitable. Not only is it unattractive, but most people want their showers to be as clean as possible or else it defeats the purpose of taking a shower! So take a dryer sheet to it.

Just rub it against the afflicted area and it will come out looking as good as ever. However, if you really want to get rid of the build-up clean first with bathroom cleaner, then polish with the dryer sheet.

Make Sure Your Clothing Iron Is Sparkling Clean

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Bob Chamberlin/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Bob Chamberlin/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The more you use your clothing iron, the more it will get dirty from picking up starches, laundry detergent, and other substances. To get your iron back to its former glory, heat up the iron and carefully go over it with a dryer sheet until it’s as clean as it should be.

By doing this, it helps prevent getting any of the grime from the iron from getting on your nice clean clothes.

Do An Even Better Job Vacuuming

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Pinterest/T Barr Jr
Pinterest/T Barr Jr

If you’ve ever vacuumed, you know that lugging around a piece of machinery full of dust and dirt can sometimes create more problems than it solves. Not only is there the possibility of dust escaping from the vacuum, but it can leave a room smelling unpleasant.

To put an end to this, throw a dryer sheet into the vacuum cleaner bag or dust container. Not only will it help to contain the dust, but it will leave the room smelling fresh as well.

Clean Up Powdery Messes

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Pinterest/Kim Jackson Bailey
Pinterest/Kim Jackson Bailey

Let’s say you’re baking something and spill flour on the floor or accidentally spill some of the dust from the vacuum bag. Have no fear! instead of reaching for the broom and dustpan (which usually doesn’t get everything), grab a dryer sheet!

The sheet will help to cling onto the powdery substance better than a dry towel. Also, this way, you won’t have to clean a damp rag afterward! It also helps to use them to get the last bits into a dustpan for a larger mess.