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7 Non-Toxic Alternatives to Conventional Dryer Sheets

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7 Non-Toxic Alternatives to Conventional Dryer Sheets GoodGirlGoneGreenDid you know that fabric softener products (liquid/dryer sheets) are concentrated with chemicals and heavy fragrances? And that there are many non-toxic alternatives to conventional dryer sheets? I personally don’t use liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets, but if I do on the rare occasion I always reach for non-toxic alternatives to conventional dryer sheets. On the other hand,  I am too lazy to add another step to my laundry routine and I don’t really like the idea of chemicals on my clothing. I like my jeans stiff and quite frankly enjoy the sandpaper feel of my towels.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and industry-generated Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) from the 1990s, the following is a list of chemicals in fabric softener products, most in untested combinations. Liquid fabric softeners additionally may contain formaldehyde.

  • Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer.
  • Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant.
  • Ethanol: On the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders.
  • Limonene: Suspected Gastrointestinal or Liver Toxicant, Immunotoxicant, Kidney Toxicant, Neurotoxicant, Respiratory Toxicant, and Skin or Sense Organ Toxicant.
  • A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, 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: A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders.
  • Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled.

Fabric softeners were designed to reduce static in synthetic fabrics and serve no purpose with natural fabrics. They stay in your clothing for extended periods and leave a residue, which never really completely washes out. When fabric softeners are exposed to heat such as hot water or a dryer or an iron, vapors can be released into the environment. These chemicals can be inhaled and absorbed by your skin- further impacting human welfare along with the environment.

Dryer sheets when heated are noxious for the release of chemicals through dryer vents out into the environment. Some health effects from being exposed to the chemicals in fabric softeners include:

  • Central nervous system disorders
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Blood pressure reduction
  • Irritation to skin, mucus membranes and respiratory tract
  • Pancreatic cancer

Is it really necessary to add fabric softener to your wash or dryer sheets to your dryer? Is it worth the risk?  So how come products with pretty names like Snuggle, Blue Touch and Cuddle Fluff be so dangerous? I am thinking the cuddly little brown bear, isn’t looking so sweet anymore.

7 Non-toxic alternatives to conventional dryer sheets

  1. Add 1/4-1/2 cup of vinegar (where to buy) to your wash.
  2. Add baking soda to the wash-cycle.
  3. Air dry your clothing.
  4. Try adding a ball of aluminum foil in the dryer. (I have never personally tried this method, so I can’t vouch for their effectiveness.)
  5. Use wool balls (where to buy) to use in place of dryer sheets. You can add a safety pin to the wool ball to also help with the static.
  6. Make your own. Grab a cloth, spray vinegar with vinegar and/or essential oils (where to buy) such as lemon or lavender (where to buy therapeutic grade essential oils) and toss in the dryer with your clothing. Additionally, you can add a safety pin as well.
  7. Lastly, if you feel that you still need to buy some dryer sheets, there are a number of green fabric softer (where to buy) on the market that are made with natural scents or are scent-free.

I think I am going to skip the bear and stick to my vinegar! Seriously, vinegar really is that versatile!

Will you be going all-natural in the name of static-cling?

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7 Non-Toxic Alternatives to Conventional Dryer Sheets

Sources: EPA, Six Wise and Guide to Less Toxic Chemicals

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

MEDICAL DISCLOSURE: The information included on this website is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions expressed here are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for your own situation or if you have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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33 Responses to 7 Non-Toxic Alternatives to Conventional Dryer Sheets

  1. Lindsay November 22, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    Really great info, I’m thinking about getting dryer balls, which I’ve never tried.

    Let’s touch base offline to see if you want to cross post this on Safer Chemicals website.

  2. jill December 6, 2013 at 9:51 pm #

    I made my own dryer balls out of wool yarn. Wrapped the yarn into a ball and felted it in hotter water. Super easy and cheap! They work great.

  3. Angela Crimmins December 17, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

    I’ve tried the wool balls (it helps some, but I still get static), aluminum foil (helps, but still some static). I haven’t tried pinning a safety pin to a wool ball or the vinegar. How much vinegar do you use in your wash? A splash or is it more than that, and does it affect the way your clothing gets clean if you have hard water? Maybe if I try a few of these tricks together I can get rid of the static cling. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Donna Wilson December 18, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

    Vinegar and lavender essential oil, I just pour the vinegar into the softener container in my washer, until almost full then I add 5-10 drops of lavender oil (natural) and no static, smells great, clothes are cleaner and even better disinfected. LOVE IT!!! Cheaper too!

    • Gail December 19, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

      Is it white vinegar you use or apple cider vinegar? This sounds like a great idea!

    • Dona December 20, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

      How much vinegar do you add? The blogger says add to wash cycle. Does it work better in the rinse cycle?

    • Holistic Sage January 19, 2014 at 9:49 am #

      Another fantastic fabric softener alternative is Epsom salt and essential oil. 1 cup Epsom salt to 10 drops essential oil, mix, and use 1/8 cup per wash. If the scent isn’t strong enough for you, you can always add more! This mixture is great because it’s dual purpose… alternative fabric softener and purex crystals scent enhancer! :)

  5. Dona December 20, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

    How much vinegar to the wash cycle on a larger load washer?

  6. darlene January 11, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    is vinegar safe for energy efficient washing machines?

  7. Monique February 1, 2014 at 6:40 pm #

    Does it make your clothes smell like vinegar?

  8. Lisa March 26, 2014 at 10:26 am #

    How much baking soda do you add to the wash cycle? I use vinegar for our sheets and towels, but it doesn’t work as well for some of our other fabrics and was curious about the baking soda.

  9. Quirky Homemaker April 15, 2014 at 8:44 am #

    I’ve tried the aluminum foil. It didn’t work with just one ball with me. Most static was gone when I tried four balls. The aluminum foil balls last for several dries before they begin to fall apart. I think you just need to find the right number of aluminum foil balls that work for you clothes. :) Thanks for the other tips!

  10. Mary June 4, 2014 at 11:18 pm #

    Dryer sheets were made specifically for polyester fabrics. That’s where the static is produced. If you are still getting static with dryer balls and/or aluminum foil balls try underying your clothes a bit and hanging to dry. That should do the trick! p.s. Leaping sheep dryer balls are all that I use. I think I got them off Etsy. They are the BEST!

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