Go beyond the dryer with these handy cleaning hacks.

Sometimes the cheapest, most forgettable household items can be the most useful. Many seemingly specific products have a wider range of unseen potential for home cleaning and other fixes.

Enter: Dryer sheets. While they're great for making newly laundered clothes smell fresh and stay lint-free, these thin static electricity guards have nearly endless home uses when it comes to tidying up and keeping things clean. Read on for a few easy ways dryer sheets can change your life:

Freshen up your trash area

"To keep your garbage cans smelling nice, you can line dryer sheets on the bottom of the bin to help absorb odors and leaks," says Leanne Stapf, Chief Operating Officer at The Cleaning Authority. This trick also works for other household items, like plants with large leaves. "And if you have a gym bag or pair of shoes with a foul odor, throw in a sheet to help keep a fresh scent."

Repel dust

Sick of dusting all the time? Dryer sheets can be your secret helper! "Try running one along your baseboards to remove dirt and repel dust," Stapf recommends.

Hand holding and put dryer sheet into a tumble clothes dryer.
Credit: hamikus / Getty Images

Clean your cookware

"As a chef, dryer sheets have been an unlikely best friend to me," says Heloise Blaure, who blogs at HomeKitchenLand.com. "Use dryer sheets to remove baked-on food from pots and pans. There's hardly anything worse than a pan with food baked on to its surface. Instead of exhausting yourself trying to scrub it off, place a dryer sheet in the pan and fill it with hot water. Let the pan soak for a few hours. The hot water draws out the silicon from the dryer sheet and wears away at the food. When you empty the water out of the pan, the food will be soft enough to wipe away with a sponge. This trick has saved me a lot of time and a lot of elbow grease!"

Prevent pet hair from sticking

Dryer sheets are excellent for removing pet hair from clothing, but probably not in the way you think. Using them after washing your clothes isn't very helpful against dog or cat hair. "Actually, the most effective way to use those sheets for getting rid of pet hair is to pop the clothes and dryer sheet into the dryer before washing," says Matt Clayton founder and editor at PetHairPatrol. "The purpose of dryer sheets is to reduce static, which is the reason pet hair is latching so tightly to your favorite jumper. By giving your pet hair-infested clothes and a dryer sheet a quick spin in the dryer before washing your clothes, you can remove pet hair and prevent it from being spread to other clothes in the wash."

Maintain freshness in storage

"When I pack things up for storage, I always include a few strongly scented dryer sheets in each box. I believe it helps ward off bugs and other critters from making their home in the boxes because the smell is so strong," says Danielle Pientka, lifestyle blogger at DIY Danielle. "They're low cost so at worse, I'm out a few cents. I have had pretty good luck with this method though so far."

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