You don't have to use fabric softener. Don't believe me? Let me tell you a little story...
A few months back my clothes dryer died. It was actually quite dramatic (or so I'm told since I didn't witness the event.) There was smoke, some flames, and my husband and sons dragging it outside while it was still smoking.
Up until it's demise, we'd been using the Bounce Dryer Bar as our fabric softener of choice. It's actually pretty cool. Instead of using dryer sheets which end up in the trash, you stick this solid bar onto the interior of your dryer drum. As the clothes come into contact with the bar it spreads its softening and anti-static properties to them as it slowly wears down to a nub. (Envision a stick of deodorant glued to the inside of your dryer.)
Since the bar was attached to our now-dead dryer and we didn't have a spare lying around, our new dryer was without a dryer bar. In a way, I didn't really want to put one in my brand-spanking-new dryer. It was so new and shiny and ... pure. As a result, the new dryer didn't have a bar and we didn't have any dryer sheets on hand. So, we dried our clothes without those things. And, do you know what happened? Nothing!
That's right, our clothes still dried. They didn't feel like sandpaper and there was only a minimal bit of static. After a while I wanted to try and conquer the small amount of static that we did have so I tried a product called Woollies. They're three balls of tightly felted wool that you toss in your drier to soften your clothes and avoid some static. I like the Woollies but they haven't been life-changing or laundry-changing for me. They may soften the clothes a bit but I think the white vinegar I put in the washing machine does most of that.
Finally I came upon the best way to address the static issue. 1) Don't over dry the clothes. It's ok if there's some moisture left when you pull the laundry out of the dryer. 2) If you do over dry them, spritz the whole load lightly with some water in a spray bottle and toss the clothes like a salad. That usually takes care of the static without costing you money or using chemicals.
So here's my take-away--fabric softener isn't necessary. Proctor & Gamble may want you to think it is but it AIN'T. Save your money and get a dollar store spray bottle and a jug of white vinegar and you'll be set.
Feel free to thank me later.