I hate static electricity: it stings like a shock and makes your hair look crazy, not to mention the embarrassment of finding a pair of underwear up your sleeve. I also hate that potentially corn-based chemicals and artificial fragrances have to be in everything.
The main beneficial substance in dryer sheets is quaternary ammonium salt. While it has antimicrobial properties, the only reason I can see for adding it is to keep bacteria, yeast, fungi and mold from growing in your clothes, if that happens to be a recurring problem.
Modern front-loading washers and dryers are notorious mold factories. However, fabric softener can get expensive and even supposed “scent free” products may still have a strong odor. So why not eliminate the excess moisture from the start, which would save money, electricity and time?
Someone once advised me to add coarse pink Himalayan sea salt (fine is too messy) to my wet laundry. Who knew??! (I haven’t tried this with non-pink varieties but they might work just as well.) I especially love that a little cotton pouch- full (about the size of my fist) lasts for several months, as opposed to the box of dryer sheets I used to buy; each sheet was only good for a single drying cycle.
Later it occurred to me that the salt residue in my clothes, towels and bedding has health benefits beyond convenience and peace of mind. I was once invited to a salt spa. We came freshly showered without applied products (e.g. lotion) and sat in a room full of mounds of salt. It actually looked like an enclosed sandbox with lawn chairs. They dimmed the lights as a gentle motor whirred. I could feel a slight breeze from a fan but didn’t realize it was circulating the salt until I licked my lips.
After our session we were instructed not to change our clothes right away so our skin could absorb the particulates, which were good for detoxification. Now I get a continuous dosage of trace minerals wherever I am!
Regardless of the science behind it, all I know is a clean dryer plus dry clothes minus the static equals a happy me.