Who doesn't love the scent of fresh laundry? Dryer sheets will keep your laundry fresh, but they can be loaded with toxic chemicals, and they create unnecessary waste. Luckily, there's a safer, more sustainable option. Here's why you should ditch dryer sheets.
Are dryer sheets bad for your health?
While dryer sheets add a nice scent and a plush softness to your laundry, that pleasant aroma comes with a laundry list (pun intended) of toxic ingredients. These ingredients (outlined below) can have a very negative impact on your overall health and wellness. Many of them aren't even regulated by the FDA and come with a nasty list of potential side effects. Something as simple as a dryer sheet should not wreak havoc on your health.
Over the years, I've shared quite a bit about the toxic chemicals hiding in household cleaners, personal care products, and even makeup. I've also created several DIY recipes to show how to make your own safer products. Today I am going to give you some tips and tricks to help you clean up your laundry routine.
Along with perfume, candles, and air fresheners, dryer sheets are some of the most chemical-laden scented products on the market. Even the non-scented varieties are loaded up with toxic ingredients. The chemicals in dryer sheets are infused into the fabric of our laundry, and then transfer to the skin as we wear clothing, dry off with towels, snuggle up in blankets etc. All of this contact greatly increases our exposure to toxic chemicals; many of which are then absorbed into the bloodstream.
The skin is the largest organ in the body and much of it is covered in clothing around the clock. Why put your health in harms way when there are safer, cleaner options?
Dangers of Dryer Sheets
While the ingredients in dryer sheets can change from brand to brand, here are some of the most common problematic ingredients:
- Benzyl Acetate -- a fabric softener linked to pancreatic cancer.
- Benzyl Alcohol -- another fabric softener, linked to respiratory issues.
- Chloroform -- yes, chloroform, a known neurotoxin and carcinogen, used as a fabric softener.
- Fragrance -- one of the most common ingredients in household cleaners, personal care products, and beauty products. While added fragrance provides a lovely aroma, it is highly problematic: on a scale of 1 to 10 of risk of exposure, 10 being the highest risk, the Environment Working Group rates fragrance at an 8. Fragrance is problematic because it can be made of any ingredients that give off a pleasant scent, and companies do not need to disclose what they use. Fragrance can cause respiratory issues, contact dermatitis, allergic reactions, and endocrine issues.
- Dipalmethyl Hydroxyethylammoinum Methosulfate -- a softening and antistatic agent. The most infuriating part about this ingredient is that there is literally no public data available on its impact or its usage. Companies are allowed to do this, because the regulations are so lenient. While the companies label Dipalmethyl Hydroxyethylammoinum Methosulfate "generally regarded as safe," they are free to do their own tests, and not beholden to any industry standards.
So what's the alternative?
Luckily, there are plenty of safer options for soft, fluffy laundry. Not only are these options better for your health, but they will save you a lot of money in the long run since they are reusable. The icing on the cake is that in ditching chemical laden dryer sheets, not only are you saving money, but you are also doing right by the environment. Here are some of my favorite safer alternatives to dryer sheets:
- Wool Dryer Balls - Wool dryer balls are a great option because they soften clothes without the chemicals, and they'll last for years and years. (get them here)
- Aluminum Foil Ball - Worried about static? Use one of the oldest tricks in the books: throw a ball of aluminum foil in with your laundry before drying. The aluminum neutralizes the static, and aluminum foil balls can be reused to decrease waste.
- Reusable Dryer Sheets - need a reusable, hypoallergenic, vegan option to replace your dryer sheets? Try a fabric option! Use the same way you'd use conventional dryer sheets, but they'll last for years to come. (get them here)
Safer fragrance options for that fresh laundry smell
If you are missing the fragrance from conventional dryer sheets, there's an easy fix for that as well. While you can make your own laundry detergent, there are also some chemical free, non-toxic versions you can buy. Thieves Laundry Soap is my favorite. You can add natural fragrance to wool dryer balls or reusable dryer sheets using essential oils. Here are some of my favorite scent combinations:
- Stress Away and Lemon Myrtle
- Lemon, Lavender, and Peppermint
- Citrus Fresh and Joy
- Lemon and Basil
- Purification and Orange
- Grapefruit and Valor
Simply add a couple drops of essential oil on each dryer ball, transfer your laundry to the dryer and add 2 or 3 wool balls to the mix. You can reuse the same scented wool dryer balls 2 to 3 times before adding more oil. I add fresh oil each time I do laundry because I really enjoy smelling them on my clothes. Not only do they smell wonderful, but I get the added therapeutic benefits of aromatherapy.
You can use this same method with the reusable dryer sheets, and throw a ball of aluminum foil in to eliminate static naturally.
Hopefully now you have a good idea of why you should ditch dryer sheets, but also how easy and inexpensive it is to make the switch.
Other sustainable living posts you might enjoy:
- DIY – How to Make Your Own Reed Diffuser
- Use This, Not That: Beautycounter Sunscreen – a safer option
- DIY Homemade Bar Soap
- 10 Ways to Cut Down on Single Use Plastic
- DIY – Toilet Cleaner Recipe with Essential oils
- 40 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
- DIY – Dishwasher Detergent with Essential Oils
- Why Bees Are Crucial to the Survival of the Human Race
- DIY – Carpet Powder with Essential Oils
- DIY Home – Foaming Hand Soap Recipe