Dryer sheets have become one of those mass marketed products that we have become convinced we need. We need them to make our laundry smell fresh or we need them to keep static cling at bay. We need them to make our clothes soft and wrinkle free. Or do we? I used to be a die hard dryer sheet user. I was absolutely convinced once upon a time that any good housekeeper and laundry aficionado MUST use dryer sheets.
Then of course I learned the hard truth. Dryer sheets are rather toxic with some really nasty chemicals that we ought not to have any contact. We certainly should not allow them to marinate with our clothing and bed sheets, which then sit in close contact with our biggest bodily organ (our skin), for hours upon hours each day. When we use dryer sheets in the high temperatures of our dryers we are dispersing all their chemical nastiness into the air (via the vent) and into our clothing. That fresh smell and any perceived benefit come at a steep cost.
Here are some common dryer sheet ingredients…
> Alpha-Terpineol – linked to depression, headaches, and disorders of the nervous system and brain
> Quaternary ammonium – linked to asthma
> Acetone – linked to nervous system issues like headaches or dizziness
> Chloroform - Neurotoxic and carcinogenic
> Ethyl Acetate – linked to headaches and is on EPA’s Hazardous Waste list
> Benzyl acetate – linked to cancer
> Ethanol- Another EPA Hazardous Waste list offender and linked to brain and nervous system disorders
> Pentane – linked to headaches, nausea, fatigue, and depression
> Fragrance – Many ingredients in fragrances are kept secret but many that we know of are linked to asthma and other serious health issues
When we read up on some of these ingredients we can only be left to wonder if it is really worth it. Of course the answer is NO. Our health is our wealth and once we know better it makes no sense to be spending good money on toxic products. This is especially true when there are cost effective and more natural ways to accomplish the same thing… fresh smelling, wrinkle free, and static free laundry.
Dryer sheets are also single use which makes them incredibly wasteful. So even though there are some more natural brands on the market I think it is still time to let them go for good.
Natural Alternatives to Dryer Sheets
Wool Balls – They roll around with your laundry and pound the stuffing out of them, making them soft and supple. Many like to add essential oils to them for scented laundry.
Dryer Sachets – Get some small cotton or muslin drawstring bags and fill them with dried herbs like Lavender. They can be reused many times before they lose their scent and effectiveness. Once they do lose their luster simply add new herbs and compost the old ones.
Vinegar – Wet a washcloth with vinegar and put in the dryer along with the wet clothing. This is cheap and REALLY effective.
Essential Oils – Put several drops of your favorite essential oils on a washcloth, clothing scrap, or orphaned sock and then add to dryer along with dry or nearly dry laundry. Use a no heat setting and let it run for 10 minutes for sweet smelling laundry.
DIY Fabric Softener Sheets – If like some of the more natural fabric softeners on the market (ie Mrs Meyer’s or Seventh Generation) you can use those to make homemade dryer sheets using fabric scraps like old t-shirts, cut into squares. Put the fabric scraps inside a glass refrigerator or food storage dish (or a plastic one if that is what you have) and saturate them with the fabric softener. Add one to the dryer along with the wet clothing with each load. You will likely find you can reuse them more than once.
Want to keep your laundry soft, fresh smelling, snuggle worthy, and static-free all without using conventional dryer sheets? Try these alternatives.
Wednesday, May 29th, 2013