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
Caroline Albert says
Etsy is a great online destination for green living. Green is definitely the new black, and when it is handcrafted and made with detail, attention and love, it’s perfect!
I read all these “fact-filled” green articles and wonder. Are the “authors” of these helpful tips doing any actual research, or are they pulling ideas out of the ether? Did you personally investigate any of the information supplied or are you re-packaging what you read elsewhere or heard from someone at the local co-op? I don’t dispute that the less anything you use, the better off we as humans, and the planet in general will be–but isn’t that just basic common sense?
Pam N says
Somewhat informative article but besides the “green” aspect, it fails to mention the fire hazard fabric softener sheets present. Many home fires have been caused by the build-up of the fabric softener chemicals on dryer lint traps. Dryer manufacturers now warn consumers to not only clean their lint traps with each load but to also wash the lint trap regularly to remove the dryer sheet residue when this type of product is used. For those who use dryer sheets, you can clean the lint out of the trap with every load, but if you’re not washing your lint trap regularly, there is still a great fire hazard.
That said, we have not used dryer sheets in our own home for years. Furthermore, I do not agree with the suggestion of using Method brand products. Just take a look at the ingredients on a bottle of their liquid hand soap…..if they will put those “non-toxic” ingredients in a product to be used on the body, I don’t even want to know what they consider to be “non-toxic” in a product that is meant for laundry and does not come in direct contact with the body.