Did you realize that while you’re trying to make your family’s clothes snuggly-soft and static-free you may be doing more harm than good?
It’s true: many commercial dryer sheets are loaded with chemicals and fragrances that can be absorbed into the skin and have nasty side effects.
You won’t find a list of ‘ingredients’ on the package of most dryer sheets; but, according to SixWise.com, here are some chemicals that have been found in dryer sheets and mainstream fabric softeners:
- Benzyl Acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer
- Benzly Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant
- Ethanol: Can cause central nervous system damage
- A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems and central nervous system damage
- Ethyl Acetate: A narcotic on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list
- Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders
- Chloroform: Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic
- Linalool: Narcotic that casues central nervous system disorders
- Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled
Are there safe alternatives? Yes! Here are a few for you to consider:
Don’t add fabric softener to loads of towels as it causes them to less absorbent.
If your laundry load consists of natural fibers (like cotton), then you may want to skip the softener all together. Cotton rarely has any static issues; it’s the polyester (man-made fiber) items that create the static as they are heated in the dryer.
You might try adding a quarter-cup of baking soda to the wash cycle to soften fabrics. Or..add a quarter-cup of white vinegar to the rinse mode to soften fabric and eliminate static cling.
Allow your clothes to only partially dry in the clothes dryer; then hang them on hangers to dry all the way. This saves on energy too! A win-win!
Use an old-fashioned wooden clothes rack like this one.
Check out green-alternatives during your next trip to the health food store or co-op. Several local grocery stores in my area carry eco-sensitive products. Just READ the labels before making a purchase.
Use a more eco-friendly fabric softening sheet like the ones from Method. Or the “Static Eliminator” which claims that each box of sheets is effective on 500 loads of laundry.
Another great GREEN choice is to try one of the fabric sachets offered by creative people like the gal from Texas over at ReFabulous where 100% wool sweaters are re-purposed into static-fighting balls slightly smaller than a tennis ball. Her dryer sachets are made from reclaimed fabric filled with lavender buds. You can get all of them at her Etsy shop.
Next time you do the laundry, think twice about fabric softeners. Make the GREEN choice and help keep nasty chemicals out of your house.
IMAGE: anna banana at flickr.com through the Common Creative License