How To Make Your Own Dryel Cleaning Cloths

homemade dryelI recently had someone email me asking whether it was possible to make your own Dryel. For those of you who are clueless about this stuff, like I was, Dryel is a home dry cleaning product. Clothing is placed in a bag along with a dryer-activated cloth and then put in the dryer. Vapors, activated from dryer heat penetrate the clothes and “lift” the odors and dirt.

Since I had never tried this product before….I was at a loss. But the more I thought about it and researched it…the more intrigued I was. First of all…..NO ONE seems to know how they work or what is in them! So we were talking NEW TERRITORY…and I love a challenge! :-)

Even better? I think I lived up to the challenge!

But let me explain a little more about Dryel first. I think a lot of people are under the impression that this is the equivalent of taking your clothing to the dry cleaner. That is just not the case. Your clothes are tumbling in a bag with a pad filled with freshening agents. This is not dry-cleaning. It’s freshening. It says on their website:  “Dryel is designed to be used as a complement, not a replacement, to commercial dry cleaning.”

homemade dryel

Dry cleaners use a highly volatile fluid and very high heat to accomplish that clean and pressed look. It’s really not something that can be duplicated at home. That being said….these dryer things do have a certain place.

If you are looking to spiff up and freshen clothing that you don’t want to send through the washing machine….like that nice pair of dark jeans that you don’t want fading in the washer…these are perfect!

Now I just had to figure out how to duplicate that!

Believe me, I don’t claim to have figured it out completely….but what I DID figure out…seemed to work quite well…so I decided it was worth sharing. :-)

On a side note: Let me just tell you…not everything I test or try works out! There are plenty of things that don’t ever make it to the website because they just didn’t perform like I would expect a homemade solution to. So if you see me post about it…you can be assured I am reasonably sure it’s going to be effective. (Or at least it was for me. As always, “your mileage may vary”.)

After LOTS of research…the ONLY clue I could come up with with regards to what’s IN the Dryel cloths was the Material Data Safety Sheet for the product that basically listed the ingredients as stain remover, emulsifier, water and fragrance. Not super helpful.

homemade dryel

So I decided to try a combination of borax, oxygen bleach, water and essential oil. For the “cleaning booster spray” component of the Dryel kit, I used plain hydrogen peroxide. (For more on the wonders of Hydrogen Peroxide click here.)


homemade dryel

I also decided that instead of using my OWN clothes as a “guinea pig” in this experiment, I would visit our local thrift store and find a suitable test subject. I found this suit jacket for $4.99 that had a few stains on it and in general could definitely use a little “freshening up”.


homemade dryel

I pre-treated the stains by spraying them directly with hydrogen peroxide (3%) and rubbing with a clean, white cloth.


homemade dryel

 Then I took that same white cloth and soaked it in a solution of 1 cup warm water, 1 teaspoon borax, 1 teaspoon oxygen bleach and 3 drops lavender essential oil. After I squeezed out the excess liquid, I tossed it into the Dryel “steam bag” with the suit coat and put it in the dryer for the recommended 30 minutes.

NOTE: I haven’t figured out a homemade version of the special steam bag that comes with the Dryel kit. Still ruminating on that one. If anyone has any suggestions…please share!

When I took it out of the bag it was still just SLIGHTLY damp from the steaming action (which is normal) so I hung it up to dry completely.


homemade dryel


I noticed 3 things immediately:

It was NOTICEABLY less wrinkled, the stains were GONE, and it smelled FRESH!

Did it look like I had just spent $15 to send it to a dry cleaner? Not quite. But I’d say it was a marked improvement, and that with only a slight bit of ironing it could easily be worn with confidence. :-)

So concludes this latest installment of “laundry experiments with Jillee”. :-)

What do you think?  As always…I appreciate your input!



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  1. Nena says

    Looks like you’ve hit on a winning combination! I like to use Dryel to freshen my Christmas sweaters after the season is over. They don’t get dirty but they have been worn so I don’t like to put them away without a little cleaning. This looks like a great inexpensive alternative! Thanks for being so inquisitive!! :O)

      • Heather says

        That would be why she chose to go to the thrift store I would assume! I would have thought also tho that it would have left a lighter spot where it was applied. Great to know that it didn’t…. but I wonder on different kinds of fabric? exp: 100% cotton Either way, I think it is awesome. I keep most of those ingredients to make my laundry soap anyway. Cheap and easy!

  2. Kim says

    Thank you so much for figuring this out! I’ve been looking for a recipe or years. I like that this isn’t as bad for the environment and or bodies as the Dryel, too.

    I dry clean my work clothes, but use Dryel in between those dry cleanings. Saves money, the earth and my family’s health!

    As for the bag…what about a boating dry bag? That would last forever, be useful in other ways, and would definitely keep the steam inside the bag. Of course, would drying a dry bag ruin its ability to repel water for boat use?

    Another idea might be to use an old rain coat to make a bag. I’ve read that the chemicals on water repellent gear never breaks down, therefore it seems like a perfect upcycle opportunity.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Mal says

      The ‘Bag’ or ‘Steam Bag’ that comes with these kits is primarily to protect the clothes from soiling from gunk that might be in the dryer drum that could be loosened during cleaning. Therefore, any suitable bag or pillow case (or no bag at all) will work for you.

  3. Stacy Smith says

    That Dryel bag looks like the pillow covers I use to keep my pillows protected….I use them for when I go to bed with wet hair but most others would use them as allergy protection……maybe one of those allergy pillowcases would do the trick??

  4. Stacy says

    This is awesome ! I use tons of this in the winter time for my sweaters, dress pants etc. Do you think making this up in a sealed container would work. This seems like a lot of solution for 1 load. I actually have 3 bags because their starter kits were less money than the refills. Way to go Jilliee !

  5. says

    Jillee, thank you so much for your ideas, they always seem to come right on time for me (like this post)! I look forward to your posts everyday and I just want you to know that I SO APPRECIATE the time and effort you take to try these things out and post them. There have been times when I’ve been in a financial bind and wished I could make something instead of spending money I really didn’t want to spend and I was able to go to your site and find a much cheaper solution, either with what I had on hand, or by spending a fraction of what I would have had to spend on a brand name product. (Especially when it comes to laundry!) Thank you so much for trying and sharing and helping to make other people’s lives easier! :-)

  6. Pam says

    This is a big one for me!! Thank you. I will try this for sure. I have allergies to artificial fragrance but am concerned about the chemicals the dry cleaners use. Therefore, I do use Dryel sheets BUT have to literally hold my nose and wear rubber gloves because the artificial scent Is dreadful to me. I then hang the garments outside for a few days on the porch then inside in another room with the door closed for about a week. Only then can I be around it, iron and actually wear it! Quite the process don’t ya’ think? I have always wondered if their was a natural alternative to Dryel.

  7. Molly says

    Thank you for this great idea! I use Dryel sheets a lot. This is a wonderful money saver. It’s so nice of you to take the time to understand and try all these super ideas. I love your posts. I just found your blog and am so greatful. Thank you again

  8. Cris says

    did i miss what TYPE of white cloth you used to ‘hold’ the liquid? was it 100% cotton? poly? a cotton poly?
    I am a constant user of the Dryel product so this would be a great and much less expensive alternative … wonder if i should start recycling the cloths (which are a poly/nylon mesh that is kinda fluffy) to use with this solution?

    side note: Woolite has a refresher product too and I find that smells gosh-awfully sweet and doesn’t clean as well, those are with a shorter dryer time & a higher temp/heat than Dryel.

  9. KJsLady says

    Since I am not familiar with this product, but thought the bag looked similar to something my mother used to own, it was a “pillowcase” with a zipper, maybe that would work?

    I don’t know if Dryel is plastic or what material it is, but even maybe a zipper sewn into a regular pillowcase would work??

    Just a suggestion to your wondering…LOL…Love your tips!!
    Have a great day!

  10. Kseeeee says

    Timely ‘recipe’ as I have stuff I was going to run through Dryel today myself. I don’t care for it because it’s a chemical but also the smell. I will be using this instead! I love your site and have used several of your recipes already – particularly a fan of the one to get stains out of the armpits of your shirts! AMAZED at how that one worked!
    Thanks for all of your tips!

  11. Jennie Fuller says

    Perhaps a bag made from PUL fabric would work to make a “steam bag”? It is a waterproof material and can withstand high temperatures. Many people use them to make their own cloth diapers or training pants for kiddos! Just a thought.

  12. Jess C says

    Love your site Jillee! This is a wonderful idea! My hubby’s suits could definitely use a freshening and I was loath to bring them to a dry cleaner yet. Thanks for this.

    Also, I have a question that’s a little off topic. I live in an area that gets pretty humid in the summer and I have a really hard time keeping all the dry ingredients for many of your laundry recipes dry (ex – My box of Borax is a clump of stone right now). I know you live in an arid climate, but do you have any suggestions for me to prevent this kind of thing from happening? Thanks Jillee!

      • Crystal says

        @ Jess C.
        Jamie is right. The products like borax or washing soda are fine if they are clumped up, it is just a hastle. I live in a humid climate too. When it comes to stuff like this, you have two choices…
        1. bust up the clumps every time you want to use it (annoying but not too big of a deal)
        2. put everything in airtight containers with a few grains of rice in a tea cloth pouch.
        I would recommend the second because it doesn’t take that long to make a little pouch and they are reuseable forever. As far as containers go, there are always sales for something if you keep you eyes open. Personally, a second hand store gets the job done for me. If you can find older containers they may not look as nice but they will be cheap and they will be just as effective!

      • victoriaco says

        I am now saving the little “packets” that come inside supplements and use them to keep my baking soda from clumping. I transfer my baking soda into a glass jar and throw in one or two of those packets. :)

  13. says

    Okay I just found your blog and I am so excited!
    Between this post, the armpit stain one, making washing soda, oxykleen one and carpet cleaner….I am going to busy this week mixing them up and cleaning stuff up!!!
    Thanks, I will be back.

  14. Ingrid says

    Dear All,
    Has anyone tried this with no bag? I always use the sheets that don’t need a bag…and, since I live in Switzerland, I cannot buy one until my next trip to the States, and I really want to make my own.
    Can one substitute for Borax? I have only found it in the pharmacy, in bags that hold 1 counce and cost almost $2:00!
    thanks for any answers,

      • Mike says

        Europe has different laws regarding supplements and minerals. I can’t send vitamins to my family in Europe. I think borax is on their list of controlled substances. California has become bad too. Politicians just don’t know what to do with their spare time after all the partying.

  15. Rich says

    I’ve used my laundry bag as my dryel bag since I wash it with my clothes at the laundromat. I’ll throw in a fabric softener sheet with an old tanktop that was also washed, and that’s where I get my vapor. I’ve never tried it, but I’m sure you can avoid the middle man and put the solution in a fine mist spray bottle. Spray your clothes before putting them in the bag.

  16. Ingid says

    Thanks, Judy, but do you realize what the postage would be on a box of Borax? I have finally found a source for boric acid, at a cost of about $2.00 a tablespoon, which still makes it viable. I have since tried it with no bag and it works a treat.
    thanks Jillie!

      • Mike says

        Yes, its a different molecule than borax but its not dangerous in small quantities, like most things. Its an antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal for foot fungus, insecticide, and is used as an eye wash among other things. Good stuff!

        I take food grade borax [not boric acid] as a mineral supplement for stronger bones, etc. Its great as a dentifrice [teeth cleaning agent].

        The life on an inventor. So many things to d, so little time to do them in. Presently proposing a laundry machine that reduces water usage 30 – 100% [Yes, 100%] Simple water purification process allows 100% water re-use.

        N-joy the Holy Days. [Yes, Holy days]

  17. Marlowe Scott says

    What do you do about oil and make-up on the collars? Is there a way to get that out without sending to a dry cleaners? We are talking about clothes that say, ‘Dry clean only’ on the label Also what do you do with fabric that retain the odor of prespiration even about washing or dry cleaning? Would so much like to have help on this!

    • Laura says

      For perspiration odours on suits, make a paste with baking soda and water and use a cloth to rub it all over the inside of the underarms (turning the suit jacket inside out helps with this). Leave it hanging to dry, then wipe off the baking soda with a clean damp cloth, and allow to dry again. Repeat if you missed a spot and it’s still smelly :). Check to make sure there aren’t baking soda marks on the outside of the underarms before wearing! If there are, simply wipe off with a clean cloth. I do this to my own wool and silk suits regulary, so far so good!

  18. says

    I can’t wait to try this! I think a pillow cover would work good, also a muslin bag. I have used soap nuts to wash regular laundry with success. I think I’ll add that to this mix in summer as its great on delicates & repels the bugs.
    Love your site!!
    Cant wait to try & post on my FB page What Works ?!
    Thanks, love your experimental nature. I was going to create my own mix, but going to try this first. Thanks, again. You saved me one step of experiment, maybe all steps!!

  19. Maggie says

    My work requires lots of suits and jacket/dress pant combos, so I use Dryel all the time to freshen them between trips to the dry cleaner. I’m so happy to find this recipe instead.

    The Dryel bag mostly confines the steam to a small space so the steaming effect can last through the whole 30-minute cycle. I’ve done away with the bag by adding a clean, wet washcloth to the load, in addition to the Dryel cloth. The clothes wrinkle less this way (not squeezed into a bag), and the whole process works fine.

    I’m definitely going to switch to this recipe — thanks, Jillee! — but I’ll also buy the occasional package of Dryel because it contains a bottle of stain remover, which is great on neck stains, coffee stains, dirty cuffs, etc. One bottle lasts a long time.

    Thanks again, Jillee!

  20. Linda says

    Great idea. I have been looking for a less expensive way to clean those dry clean only clothes. I shop thrift stores and remake clothes or refurbish them. This will help keep the cost down. Thanks for all your good tips.

  21. Denise says

    I don’t even use a bag for these things. I just put it all in the dryer. Less wrinkles that way as there’s more room for the clothing to spread out during the 30 minutes. They feel, smell and look just like when I use the dryel bag.

  22. Sarita Maczko says

    Modern dry cleaning uses non-water-based solvents to remove soil and stains from clothes. The potential for using petroleum-based solvents such as gasoline and kerosene was discovered in the mid-19th century by French dye-works owner Jean Baptiste Jolly, who noticed that his tablecloth became cleaner after his maid spilled kerosene on it.*`

    Pay a visit to our own web site as well

  23. Jenn says

    Just got done doing something similar to this, but I reused my old Dryel bag and sprayed four used dryer sheets with a spray bottle of 1 part cheap fabric softener (scented, we don’t use it often!) and 4 parts water. After 20 minutes in the bag, my rather unsoiled black suit turned out soft, lightly steamy, and smelled very fresh.

    Funny part? I normally use the 1 part softener to 4 parts water on a cheap costume wig I wear to Funny Hat Board Game Night. Great detangler for fake-hair wigs!

  24. Msfun says

    If u are paying $15 at cleaners, find a new one. We have a $1.25 cleaners, they charge $3 or less for suit jackets.

    As for a bag. The type used to steam vegetables in the microwave works well. Hard to find the bigger ones :-(

  25. Bethany says

    Has anyone else actually tried this? I read all the posts and everyone said they “will” try it…? Just curious to have a few more opinions on how well it works before I through my delicate tops in. Thanks!

  26. Kathy says

    I wonder if some rinsed activated charcoal tied up in maybe a coffee filter and thrown in with the clothes would help absorb any odors. It works great in my frig for odors. I get it at the pet store in the fish area.

  27. Margarita says

    Love your ideas on “Do it Yourself” jobs…Iam going to bookmark your site to come back and check it out later and have it always handy…Thanks for your time and efforts in making our lives easier and economical.


  1. […] If your furniture has an X-tag on it – it means it only can be cleaned without the use of water or solvents. In a perfect world, you would hire a professional to dry clean these types of furniture but it is expensive so if you want to do it yourself try using Dryel dry cleaning cloths to wipe down your custom upholstery furniture or try making dry cleaning cloths on your own. […]

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