How To Make Your Own Dryel Cleaning Cloths

homemade dryel

I 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.


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!


Print Friendly
Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on Twitter6Pin on Pinterest8,990Google+0

Enjoy This Post? Never Miss Another!

Subscribe to Jillee's FREE email newsletter and receive more great tips and ideas!



  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)

  2. danielle says

    Just wondering- you aren’t worried that the hydrogen peroxide will bleach the clothes where you spray it on?

    • says

      That was my first thought too. I know that hydrogen peroxide is used to brighten and lighten things (people use it to highlight their hair) so wouldn’t it fade the spot it’s applied to?

      • 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!

  3. Laura says

    Would a wetbag for diapers work as the dryel bag? I know the one I have is made of a nylon material that does let some air in and out.

  4. 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.

  5. 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??

  6. 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 !

    • says

      That’s an excellent idea Stacy. I agree, it seems silly to waste the rest of the liquid. Maybe soak 3 or 4 rags and put them in plastic zipper baggies for use later.

  7. 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! :-)

  8. says

    I am never ceased to be amazed at your skills and abilities! I really want to try this concoction.. WOW! I’m just so impressed. Keep it up. I love love love your site!

  9. 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.

  10. 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


  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. […]