Monday, April 13, 2015

DIY Dryer Sheets

Well for about 6 months now, I have been on the hunt for "how to make your cat stop peeing on fabric". Several hundred similarly worded google searches later, and I really didn't have concrete information to go on. Basically, it's a struggle, and we all don't know what to do about it, according to tons of pet chatboards. (Huck, one of our cats, likes to pee on clothing or bedding).

We found a "bad cat spray" at the store, which kinda works - only the scent and spray only seem to deter for moments - until the spray evaporates or absorbs. But we tried it. Then I checked the ingredients on the bottle: Lemongrass and water. Idea Strikes.

Now my google searches were along the lines of "what scents do cats hate". My searches revealed that they dislike, passionately, citrus-y scents, and essential oils especially, as the scent is quite potent. Lemongrass is among the top of their dislikes, along with all other citrus scents.

So then I began scratching my head - how to get this scent "out there" in the house? I already knew the spray I bought was only temporarily effective. Setting out a dish of it (liquid) so the scent lingers longer would just be problematic in a house full of kids and pets, and if they spilled it on the items I was trying to protect (fabrics) it could damage them, potentially.

So my quest remained and I didn't really have any brilliant ideas. Until I clicked on a pinterest link some one posted to facebook. How to make homemade "dryer sheets". I've seen similar before, but I checked out the link, and it was really about how to make homemade dryer balls out of a wool skein. It was quite detailed, and interesting, and as I was reading, it occurred to me that this would be perfect for my cat problem. At the end of the post the author included a ** saying - DO NOT try to make these at home. It was difficult, and the wool skeins are very pricey and only make about 2 balls, and at the end of the day, just not worth it. Buy already made ones on amazon.

SOLD! I sooooo appreciated the honesty of the woman, who's link I can no longer find. But really, how great to show people what you've done and then insist it was a waste of time and money, LOL. So I bought 6 wool balls on amazon for 11,99, and they arrived free shipping in two days. Yay.
Then I set out googling how to USE the dryer balls - not how to make them out of wool (tons of info out there!), but how to use them - online details were slim at best. I like specific lists for directions, and this wasn't giving me anything like that to go on. So I came up with my own system by trail and error.

It includes two glass jars - one for the "wet ones" and one for the dry ones. It was working great for me, except - the glass jars on the dryer were very jingly and noisy. The lids would vibrate and the two jars would clang together and it was just really annoying background noise!
Burlap is my "dry jar" regular glass is my "wet jar"
So I covered my "dry ones" jar with burlap I had on hand in my craft stuff. (Take THAT husband who always wonders why we have a 'closet full of "stuff" we never use' ;-)
I just cut and wrapped the burlap and hot glued it into place on the jar (there is a back seam), and then around the bottom edge, and top edge. I then tied a ribbon around the top to make it look prettier.
On to the nitty gritty of the "recipe" for the dryer sheet/ball. I use Lemongrass and Purification (a blend of oils known to neutralize mildew, cigarette smoke and more. It contains Cintronella, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Melaleuca, Lavandin & Myrtle - it smells amazing, and has that underlying citrus smell that cats will avoid)

I decided to give the cat-pee deterrent a two fold approach. If our clothes smell subtly like these oils, from the dryer ball, the cat will be less prone to want to go near them - and yet they smell great to us! And then I also use the balls out in the house, which I will show later.

I normally don't use anything by way of dryer sheets, only because they are an added expense that my budget doesn't need. But I do love the "idea" of dryer sheets, and these are a re-useable, and very cheap way to add a great scent, and reduce static, and soften clothing while it dries.

In a container (like my glass jars or similar), place dry wool balls.
(Make sure the container is large enough so that more than 1 or 2 balls are touching the bottom/liquids added, so they can all soak up evenly)

Put 1 drop of lemongrass and 1 drop of Purification on each ball (these oils are $11 and $18 respectively for 15ml, and using 1 drop at a time will last a reeeeeeally long time. I use them for other things, health wise, so I'll go through them a little faster*, but for me, they are something I am already buying, so they are of no additional cost to my budget.)

I pour about 1/2 C white vinegar and 1/2 C water over the balls, and let them sit and absorb. I use white vinegar in each load of laundry as my water softener, so again, it's already in my laundry room, right there, and is really adding minimal/no expense to my normal routine.

When you are putting a load in the dryer, grab a dryer ball from the "wet" jar, (or two for extra large loads), and throw them in the dryer with the wet clothing.

When a load is finished, I throw the "dry" ones in my burlap covered container, and there they wait to be re-doused in the future, or used as cat deterrents. When I get down to about 1 left, I "make a new batch" of wet ones but this would depend on how much you do laundry in a week. They take probably at least 30 mins to soak up the vinegar & water, so I just make sure there are always some to grab in there.
Here they sit, soaking up their vinegar and water mixture.

To keep the lids from rattling I hot glued ribbon to the outer edge of the jars inner rim, if that makes sense. Now we have zero opportunity for glass to clang against glass, and a quiet clothes drying experience

And they kinda look pretty on the dryer, too, right?! I'm loving this!
Our clothes smell great! They are static free, and so I'm reaaaally glad I came across this idea online and morphed it into my own!

To use the oils as a cat-pee deterrent, I just take a dry ball, and put a drop of essential oil on it, and place it where I want the cat to avoid. It smells forever (I've had some out for over a week, and they still smell strongly to the human nose), and it's safe for kids etc etc. Nothing to get damaged or spill etc. This would work well as a cat scratching deterrent too, if they are going for something they shouldn't, place a ball there, and they'll not go near!
The oils are a little yellow in colour, so they "dye" the white wool - it' doesn't affect functionality at all

So now, when "leaving clothing out" to fold later, I just place a ball on top, to keep the cat away! Works like a charm! I've left stuff out for days, just as an attempt to bait him and test the system, and he won't go near it! (When grabbing a "dry" ball, I give it a good smell, sometimes the smell - leftover from it's dryer experience - is still pretty strong, and doesn't need another drop of oil added)
And just because I had the craft supplies out - Our flosser "container" was a re purposed kitchen counter container that says "Tea" on it (you can see the metal sign from the inside of the container still). These flossers seem to be essential to not only the kids dental health, but mine. I've had lots of cavities, so I need to be careful with my teeth ongoing, and flossing is just one of those "things" I just always don't do. Until I starting using these things, now it's easy and convenient and I floss alllll the time! 

So I covered it in burlap, and now it matches the bathroom a little better, don't you think?

*I use lemongrass, applied neat, to a cluster of veins on my legs that is "burst" giving a bruise appearance. Dr says ablation procedure is the only way to get rid of the vein cluster, but many people have seen visible vein reduction (spider veins etc) by applying lemongrass, so I am trying it - It can't hurt and will only help, so why not?:-) We use Purification for seasonal allergies and stuffy noses. Brian and Kenna swear by it (along with their Lemon, Lavender, Peppermint mixture - they are our worst allergy sufferers).

So, even if you don't have a cat problem to solve, these dryer "sheet" alternatives can be used effectively and affordably, and aren't adding any extra chemicals into your life!

NOTE: You can use only water if you choose, vinegar adds an added 'softening' agent, but using only water will still reduce static and give a great smell to clothing if using with oils. Or another option would be to just use vinegar and water, with no oils - this would give soft and static free clothing, but it wouldn't have any smell to it, for people that are sensitive to smells. The odor from the oils left on clothing is, in my opinion, light and fresh - not as potent as a normal dryer sheet - and better smelling. The oils are absorbed into the wool balls and will not get "oil spots" on your clothing. I suggest using Young Living Therapeutic grade oils.

Wool dryer ball aficionados out there also insist that using them cuts down drying time by up to 25%, thereby saving money on your energy bill. I think I've noticed this to be true too, although I'll need to pay closer attention to the clock!

Let me know if you have any questions about this! Happy Laundry Day(s) :-)

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