Mom Says Cleaning-Hack-Gone-Wrong Left Family 'Lucky to Be Alive' in Video Viewed 1M Times

A woman warned people on TikTok of a seemingly-harmless and popular cleaning hack that endangered her family. The video went viral in the two days since it was posted, racking up 1.1 million views, 55,000 likes, and thousands of comments.

In the video, TikToker @cleanwithhailee, also known by her first name, Hailee, explained that she tried a laundry "hack" in order to replace her dryer sheets—but the situation resulted in a dangerous, overnight blaze.

This purported trick, involving fabric softeners and sponges, gained traction online in recent years, and many praised it as a more sustainable alternative to single-use dryer sheets.

The magazine Woman's Day covered the hack back in 2015, calling the trick "cheaper" and "better for the environment" than dryer sheets. The hack consists of cutting up several regular sponges and soaking them in a mixture of fabric softener and water. Then, after squeezing out the excess liquid, the sponges are popped in the dryer with a load of laundry.

Though many have praised the so-called "hack," Hailee, who is known for her videos on household chores and cleaning, had a far less positive outcome.

Her video begins by showing her preparing the sponges in the laundry detergent and water mixture. Meanwhile, the onscreen text reads: "Hindsight is a great thing! I know this is my fault so [I] don't need any negative comments! This is purely to help spread awareness."

The next shot shows the trick's shocking aftermath. The TikToker's dryer appears to have been destroyed in a fire, leaving all of the clothes blackened and burnt.

She explains that this was the first time she had tried the dryer-sheet-alternative and that she has "never had a problem with [her] dryer, in any way, shape, or form" prior to the incident.

"We were woken up this morning to the house filled with smoke," she said. "The dryer had been ... on fire from the inside through the night, burning slowly. I'm not really sure what happened, but it was absolutely terrifying."

She clarified in the comments section that "the dryer wasn't on through the night"—rather, the fire continued to slowly burn inside the dryer, even after it had been turned off.

"We're very lucky to be alive," she said, and warned viewers to "be careful" with which hacks they try in the future.

Commenters flocked to the video, thanking Hailee for sharing her scary experience.

"It's ... really brave to post a hack gone wrong," wrote @anapan0, noting that cleaning influencers "are known for silently stopping practices without explaining risks."

Others offered their own explanations of what may have triggered the fire in the first place. "Fabric softener is highly flammable," wrote @lucie8xxx.

Some people used the comments section to critique the popularity of purported "hacks" more generally.

"Not aimed personally at you, but I wish people would stop creating 'hacks' and sharing them over social media without knowing whether [they're] safe or not," commented @love._.family11.

Newsweek has reached out to Hailee for additional comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Dryer
Clean laundry left in the dryer of an apartment, 2009. A TikToker's attempt at a laundry "hack" left her family endangered after her washing machine caught on fire. Eli Meir Kaplan/Getty Images