Did you know that fabric softener products (liquid/dryer sheets) are concentrated with chemicals and heavy fragrances? And that there are many dryer sheets alternatives that are non-toxic? I personally don’t use liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets, but if on the rare occasion I do, I always reach for non-toxic alternatives to conventional dryer sheets.
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, vapours 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
- Blood pressure reduction
- Irritation to the skin, mucous 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? It’s unfortunate that products with pretty names like Snuggle, Blue Touch and Cuddle Fluff be so dangerous? That cuddly little brown bear isn’t looking so sweet anymore.
7 alternatives to conventional dryer sheets
Here’s what to use in place of dryer sheets:
- Add between 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of vinegar to your wash.
- Add baking soda to the wash cycle.
- Air dry your clothing.
- Try adding a ball of aluminum foil in the dryer.
- Use wool dryer balls (you can totally add some essential oils for smell) to use in place of dryer sheets. You can add a safety pin to the wool ball to also help with the static.
- Make your own. Grab a cloth, spray vinegar with vinegar and essential oils such as lemon and lavender essential oils and toss in the dryer with your clothing. Additionally, you can add a safety pin as well.
- Lastly, if you feel that you still need to buy some dryer sheets, there are a number of green fabric softeners on the market that are made with natural scents or are scent-free.
I’m going to stick to my wool dryer balls. They’re a safe dryer sheet substitute, and seriously, wool dryer balls are the bomb!
So, will you join me and go all-natural by choosing one of these healthy alternatives to dryer sheets?