Most store-bought fabric softeners contain many harmful carcinogens and chemicals that are bad for our bodies and the environment. They might smell nice, but it's not worth risking my child's health, so I don't use fabric softener. I also cannot afford most of the earth-friendly products out there on a regular basis. But this is Da Plains in the winter and there is a crap ton of STATIC. To the point where I must do something or risk zapping the dog's nose clean off of her face (again).
I'm sure many of you have read about making a homemade reusable dryer sheet by soaking it in fabric softener and letting it dry. That's a little more earth-friendly but it doesn't solve the issue of exposing our bodies to the chemicals in the fabric softener.
An even more earth-friendly and healthier plan is to use 1/2 C of white vinegar to the rinse cycle of your washing machine. (Vinegar will also boost your whites, too, by the way.)
Beyond static, many people use fabric softener for the smell. This isn't overly important to me personally, but I'm all about a new craft project. I'm going to make homemade dryer sachets. I'd like to use some old fabric and fill it with scraps of fabric or polyfil from a thrift pillow, and essential oils. If I throw the sachet in with each load in the dryer, the essential oils I drip on beforehand should filter through the entire load.
I'll let you know how this process goes.
To read more about the scary ingredients (and they really ARE scary!) in many cleaning, household and even beauty products, check out the Environmental Working Group.