7 Easy Hacks for Using Dryer Sheets in Car


Dryer sheets have many uses around the home beyond just laundry. This post focuses on all the ways you can use dryer sheets in your car to spruce it up. Save your used (clean) dryer sheets—these hacks work with new or used sheets. And any generic dryer sheets should do the trick.

We’ve written previously about why we’re not fans of using dryer sheets for laundry. However, we’re big fans of reusing, repurposing, and DIY hacks

So let’s dive right in!

What you need to know about using dryer sheets in car

First, before you get started, you should be aware of a few things about dryer sheets.

  • Sensitivity to fragrances? If you have a family member with a sensitivity to fragrances, dryer sheets might not be the best thing to use inside your car as an air freshener. Try a natural solution instead, such as spritzing a cotton ball with a few drops of vanilla extract.
  • Tread gently: When using dryer sheets on the exterior surface of your car, go easy. Make sure the dryer sheet is thoroughly moistened to prevent any scratching.
  • Rinse well afterwards: To prevent any possible damage to your vehicle’s finish rinse well with water after using dryer sheets.

Tip: Before using dryer sheets on your car’s exterior, test a small inconspicuous area first. If you are scrubbing vigorously with a dryer sheet, you may need to reapply your car’s finish.

Credit: Brando / Flickr, T-bird interior

1: Easy air freshener

That brand-new car odor eventually fades and in its place, your nose smells something…not-so-fresh. Instead of buying car air fresheners, make use of extra dryer sheets you already have. 

You can either do this by placing a few sheets under your seats. Or as one Reddit user (j-mt) suggests, keep an entire open box of dryer sheets in your car (which of course makes it easy to grab more sheets as needed).  

Just make sure to pick a fragrance you like first!

2: Remove any lingering odors

I know this sounds similar to hack #1, but this trick is to remove lingering odors, like the smell of smoke, or maybe that forgotten-about rotten taco. This dryer sheet trick involves a wipe down of the interior of your car.

First, remove any garbage or items that are the source of the odor.

Start from the top and work your way down. Use a dryer sheet to wipe the ceiling, interior walls, and seats. This should help neutralize any lingering odors.

Does your car still smell funky even after a dryer sheet wipe down? Try leaving an open box of baking soda in your car.

3: Clean headlights

Car headlights bear the brunt of roadside dirt, grime, and debris. To keep your lights shining brightly through clean headlights, just grab a new or used dryer sheet. Moisten the dryer sheet with water and rub onto headlights to easily remove any unwanted gunk.

Wipe off any residue with a clean towel.

4: Remove stuck-on bugs and tree sap

Some things are harder to clean off your car’s surface than others—namely stuck-on bugs and tree sap. Whether you’ve just gone on a long road trip, or regularly park your car outside, your car is subject to nature’s elements.

Resist the urge to scrape off debris (which can damage paint). Here’s where dryer sheets come to the rescue. Dead bugs be-gone!

You’ll need:

  • A spray bottle with a bit of water
  • A few dryer sheets

Roll up a dryer sheet and place inside a spray bottle. Fill the bottle with a bit of water, replace the top and shake well. Allow the dryer sheet and water to mix. Next, spray this DIY solution onto stuck-on bugs or sticky tree sap. Use another dryer sheet to rub off debris. Repeat as necessary. 

Remember to rinse the scrubbed areas with water. For best results, dry your car with a chamois or 100 percent terry towel cloth. 

5: Remove pet hair

While Rufus might love car rides, your pet dog or cat probably leaves behind a trail of hair. Remove pet hair from car seats by simply rubbing a dryer sheet over troublesome areas.

6: Keep mice away when storing your car

Maybe you’re storing your car away for a few weeks or for the winter months and need to keep pesky rodents away. Apparently, dryer sheets do the trick. And according to this article by Hagerty, car enthusiasts swear by Bounce sheets for this hack.

There’s something about the smell of Bounce sheets that drives mice away. So place dryer sheets along the interior of your car, in the trunk, under the hood, and on top of tires. Come springtime, your car should be pest-free and smell like a spring meadow.

7: Eliminate static

One of the main benefits of dryer sheets is to reduce static on laundry. So it makes sense that it also helps to eliminate static in your ride. 

If you’re tired of getting small electrical shocks when you touch your car’s door handles, knobs, or steering wheel, try rubbing a dryer sheet over areas as needed.

The takeaway: using dryer sheets in car

There are plenty of ways to use dryer sheets in and around your car. Just be careful of how dryer sheets may affect your car’s finish. Some people report a cloudy finish on the surface of their car after using a dryer sheet, while most don’t have any problems.  Remember to rinse well with water after using dryer sheets on your vehicle’s finish.

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  1. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, (25 August 2020). “Using Dryer Sheets on Your Car“, ThoughtCo. Accessed November 2020.
  2. It Still Runs, How to Eliminate Car Odor with a Dryer Sheet, https://itstillruns.com/eliminate-car-odor-dryer-sheet-2068295.html. Accessed November 2020.
  3. 4 Season Car Wash (21 November 2016). “4 Easy Car Detailing Hacks“,  Bruster’s Car Wash, Accessed November 2020.
  4. Fast Lane Automotive (14 October 2015). Remove Dead Bugs From Your Car With Dryer Sheets, https://fastlaneautomotive.net/remove-dead-bugs-from-your-car-with-dryer-sheets/. Accessed November 2020.
  5. Hagerty (02 December 2009). Tips to Keep Mice out of Stored Cars, https://www.hagerty.com/media/maintenance-and-tech/tips-to-keep-mice-out-of-stored-cars/. Accessed November 2020.

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