Doing the laundry is just one of the many chores it must be handled day in and day out, week after week, as part of being a functional adult and member of society. And responsible adults take care of routine maintenance, and that means cleaning out the lint trap on your dryer.
Most of us have that little trash can in the laundry room that is there with the explicit purpose of holding a little bits of trash that come out of our pants pockets prior to tossing them in the washing machine and also to hold the ever-increasing mountain of dryer lint that is removed from the lint trap of our dryers.
If you have been a prepper for any length of time, chances are you are already looking for a reliable source of useful materials, or a low-cost way to replace the items that you normally buy.
Dryer lint, Believe it or not, is one such resource that you can use for all kinds of things and not just as tinder. Keep reading, and we will share with you 13 clever uses for dryer lint you might not have thought of.
What is Dryer Lint, Exactly?
Dryer lint is an accumulation of fibers from your clothes – after you’ve dried them in the clothes dryer.
You pull the dryer lint from the lint trap in your electric or gas dryer. It typically comes off in strips or layers. Most people throw it away. But because these tiny fibers are collected in the dryer, right after your clothes have been washed, they are for the most part clean.
This makes dryer lint perfect for many different uses. If you are going to begin reusing your dryer lint, you’ll want to check the labels of your clothing, towels, and sheets to see what fibers they are made of. It’s best to use dryer lint that comes from organic fibers such wool or cotton.
Another way to acquire lint is to actually remove it from your clothes, should any of them have it in excess:
1. As a Fire Starter / Tinder
I’ll start with this one since it’s the most relevant for survival. Dryer lint is flammable so, if you can generate a few sparks and you have kindling ready. Of course, I should mention that not all dryer lint is the same as a high concentration of cotton will burn better than wool or synthetic fibers.
If you’re using dryer lint as your fire-starting material, make sure you carry the lint from loads of cotton-based clothing rather than synthetic for best results.
Starting a fire with dryer lint is fairly straightforward but let’s see a video demonstration:
Plus, if you stuff it inside toilet paper rolls, you can even make some nice fire starting logs.
Caveat: since it’s highly flammable, you should store it in Ziploc bags until you’re ready to use it. Official stats show that over 2,900 dryer firers occur each year in the United States.
Are there better options out there? Of course. There’re a lot more options there for tinder, such as:
- steel wool
- cotton balls and wax as demonstrated in this video:
2. As Compost
Careful, here. You don’t want too many synthetic fibers. If you wear a lot of polyester clothes or use blended synthetic fiber towels, you need to understand that those fibers don’t break down as easily as organic cotton or wool fibers.
Surprisingly, dryer lint helps the plants grow because it retains moisture in the soil and can help prevent soil from eroding or washing away. .
3. To Make Dryer Lint Paper
Although I can’t imagine an SHTF situation where you have electricity to use your dryer but no way to get some paper, it’s nice to know you can turn one into the other.
Perhaps you can store some up now, so you have it to turn into paper later. I’ll leave you with the instructions right here.
4. To help retain moisture for your plants
Spread it on top of the earth inside the bottom of your flower or garden pot. Water your plants as usual. The dryer lint in the bottom helps hold moisture longer for your plants to access.
Dryer lint has not been found to negatively impact water drainage but be careful not to overwater your plants.
5. As Packing Material for Your Boxes
Since certain natural disasters can cause your boxes full of preps to fall from the shelves, you can use dryer lint as cushion for your most fragile items.
6. Worm Food
Because dryer lint, if it’s primarily come from cotton and wool clothing is organic in nature, you can add it to your soil, your compost bin, or your worm farm as food for the worms.
The worms will eat the dryer lint and convert it into nice healthy soil, which you can the use to grow food.
7. Pet Bedding
In a pinch, you can use accumulated dryer lint as bedding for small pets including hamsters, mice, or other small animals who like to burrow. Again, you’ll want to make sure your dryer lint is primarily cotton and wool fibers just in case your pet ingests some of the lint.
Dryer lint is absorbent so it works well to soak up urine or spilled water in small animal cages.
8. As Insulating Material
Although it’s not the ideal material, you can use dryer lint to help insulate an old drafty house in cold weather months. Use it to stuff into cracks around windows, door frame, or along baseboards to stop drafts from getting into your home or shelter.
It’s not recommended that you use dryer lint near any electrical wires or other devices or objects that could get hot or produce sparks.
9. For stuffing for pillows and other crafts
If you’ve got an old pillow that has lost its fluff or if you need to create a makeshift pillow for an unexpected guest, you can use dryer lint in place of batting or stuffing. It’s clean, smells great, and if you’ve been collecting it, and saving it, you should have plenty to stuff a pillow or stuffed toy for a child, all at no cost to you.
10. To turn into yarn for mending or making clothes
Dryer lint is nothing more than bits of fiber that has come off your clothes. This means that if you know how to spin fibers to yarn, you can technically use dryer lint for this purpose.
I suggest making sure that your dryer lint is comprised of mostly cotton or wool if you intend to use if for spinning.
11. To prevent weeds in the garden
Some people have reported success using dryer lint for weed prevention in the garden too. Simply spread the dryer lint around the base of your plants.
It will retain moisture as we said above, but it will also help to keep plants warmer and work a bit like mulch to prevent weeds from growing up near your plants.
Keep in mind that dryer lint is flammable so keep this in mind when you are adding other things to your garden, such as hot mulch.
12. To entertain the kids
Believe it or not, you can take that dryer lint you’ve been collecting and turn it into a way to entertain the kids during a power outage or other SHTF situation.
For the recipes in the recipes below swap dryer lint for the paper. Dryer lint may take a little more effort to get it to break apart easily if you desire a smooth paste or clay.
- Make Paper Mache Crafts
- Make dryer clay by adding a tablespoon dishwashing liquid to 1/3 cup of white glue and about 1/3 cup of lukewarm water.
13. As absorbent media
Dryer lint, as mentioned above on the entry for pet bedding, is surprisingly absorbent. This makes it a good and safe choice for lining the bottom of a small rodent cage, but you could also put it to use as a material that can help you clean up the nastiest and oiliest of spills.
Dryer lint, when it absorbs such liquids, will reliably clump up and hang on to those liquids, making disposal easy.
In this way, I can work similar to cat litter or other specialized, commercial absorbent media for taking care of spills that are difficult to clean up in any other way.
For instance, if you should spill some cooking oil in your kitchen or motor oil in your garage or on your driveway, you don’t need to panic and waste an entire case of paper towels or ruin a bunch of rags. Simply grab your jar of dryer lint and dump it out on the spill before pressing it down lightly.
You should notice the spill wicking up into the dryer lint as if my magic. Then all you need to do is throw it away and clean up any lingering residue, which will be much easier.
Do use caution, however, when disposing of dryer lint used in this way as oil soaked fabrics always represent a secondary fire hazard, so take whatever precautions you need to when throwing it away.
We couldn’t have ended this article without talking about good practices and prevention. We already said a huge number of fires are caused by driers and drier lints so let’s see how we can prevent them.
Clean out your dryer’s vent, screen and trap before or after each use. Some people recommend using a vacuum hose attachment, but others say it’s useless. An alternative would be to use clear plastic tubing which you can tape to your vacuum.
My dad was military. My grandfather was a cop. They served their country well. But I don’t like taking orders. I’m taking matters into my own hands so I’m not just preparing, I’m going to a friggin’ war to provide you the best of the best survival and preparedness content out there.