Pros: Stops static cling, leaves clothes soft and fresh smelling, doesn't aggravate my allergies
Cons: best for vented dryers as not much cop in the other sort
I admit it, I am an eco conscious person with a tumble dryer! Granted, it is an energy saving model, but it is an eater of electricity nonetheless. I refuse to bow my head in shame, as without it, I could not dry sheets and duvets with ease in winter, and I can't hang out bedding in warm weather either as I am highly allergic to pollen and fine particulates. My reasons for having a dryer aside, the fact I own a dryer has several implications for my laundry.
One is the dreaded static ling. Oh the woe of having hair stand on end and listening to the crackle of static charged fabric. The other is the hot wet cabbage smell that one can get occasionally from natural fibres that are washed in unscented (and therefore un perfumed to mask it) washing concoctions. One can use liquid fabric softener in the washer to help cover the smell, and I frequently do use some, but for items that should not get quite such a heavy dose of the fibre coating liquid, a dryer sheet is a much better option.
Having tried other brands, which seemed to either shred after a single use or else fail in static control or are too perfumy and set my nose twitching, I came back to Bounce and when I buy sheets, this is the one I reach for. Heavy duty fibrous sheets coated thickly and stiffly with fabric softener, I find I get 2-3 uses out of them before completely useless. The cooler the setting, the more uses out of it, as the heat from the dryer melts the coating and the tumbling action of the dryer very lightly coats the fibres without leaving a heavy deposit. The result is soft fabrics without any possible greasy residue that you can get from liquid in wash softeners after awhile, fluffy towels that still will absorb water as they should, clothes that crease less if removed from the dryer and put away promptly, and lightly scented clothes that don't set off my asthma or our allergies. At least it does if using a vented dryer. Having had both a condenser type dryer and a vented one, I can tell you with a certainty that the higher humidity of a condenser dryer seems to render these sheets useless. I am going to guess this is because the water is allowed to condense (duh!) and the heated fabric conditioner gets mixed in, and basically rinsed out of the clothes before it can do anything at all. In all the vented dryers I have experienced both as a child and as an adult, the results were as advertised.
Cost wise, they can be expensive. You can expect to pay $3 or more for a box of 40 sheets if you buy it from a discount store or supermarket. Admittedly that is a bit YIKES!, but never fear, you can get these even cheaper by simply looking at bulk dealers. A quick look online reveals that under $20 will get you 246 sheets delivered to your door (Ebay). Now, with two loads minimum each, that is 492 loads of drying, which I can tell you lasts a VERY long time! Is it worth it? Well, I have made my own dryer sheets before using old flannels and liquid fabric softener (simply place a bit on a dry flannel and pop it in), and it works ok, but you do not get quite the same results, and cost wise it has no advantage over buying bulk. The packaging on Bounce is also easier to recycle, being a box made of thin card, so it is merely a matter of tearing it up for the old compost bin. The sheets are cellulose, so when used up, can be composted, though you might want to add them to a wash to make sure all the stuff is out of it.
The sheets also have many other uses. Golfers in the US are often seen with a sheet in their back pocket, to keep bees away (also works against mosquitos). Used sheets also make great dusters and work well on the end of a Swiffer type mop. Dog owners like using the sheets to dry their dogs with, as the coating (even on a just used once in the dryer sheet), is enough to keep fleas off, and will not harm the dog if he licks his fur. An unused sheet placed in a burnt pan with water and left to soak overnight will see the crusted on crud lifted away. Used sheets are great to wipe off glasses, TVs and monitors and other surfaces as the anti static properties of the stuff on it will help repel dust from resettling upon them and doesn't cause smears. The unused sheets are also great for deodorising: use in drawers or place in a bag or box with clothes that are being packed away to keep them fresh smelling. Place in a nappy bucket or waste bin at the bottom to combat odours. The freshening qualities are also strong enough to dispel must, as I found when we bought my Singer 221 sewing machine. It had been left in its case in a damp loft and despite a most thorough cleaning, the case had a mouldy smell that was dreadful. My online sewing group for vintage machines told us to place a Bounce sheet in the case and leave it locked for a week. We did and the smell left, never to return. We were well impressed. So, it does a lot more than just makes clothes in the tumble drier smell nice and be static free.