Did you know that dryer sheets are toxic?
Despite their clean smelling scent, these sheets contain an assortment of chemicals that can disrupt the hormones. Such as phthalates.
It’s believed that some of these compounds are carcinogenic.
Considering all the environmental toxins we’re exposed to, it makes no sense (to me anyway) to add dryer sheets to the mix.
I know they soften the laundry. Some people like their “fresh” smell. But these conveniences come at a cost.
I’ve decided that softer clothes are not worth the health risk. So we either use no fabric softener or we use a more natural one.
There are a number of alternatives if you prefer softer clothes, without using potential cancer causing compounds.
(Many common industrial chemicals are known as endocrine disruptors, because they mimic the female hormone estrogen. This has not been proven. But the worry is that this could fuel a hormone-driven cancer.)
Once you learn more about dryer sheets you may decide you no longer like that nice “clean” scent.
Actually, I’ve come to dislike the smell of dryer sheets because I know what’s in them. I try to avoid them in my own house. Unfortunately, I still have to smell them on walks through my neighborhood.
Safe Natural Dryer Sheets Alternative
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So, what nasty stuff is lurking in your dryer sheets?
Apparently, a witches brew of chemicals. So many, in fact, that the Environmental Working Group published a post titled, Skip The Fabric Softeners. (See link below.)
The EWG points out that compounds known as “quats” (short for quaternary ammonium compounds) are what gives fabric a softer feel when you pull it from the dryer.
Unfortunately, though, quats may trigger asthma and possibly cause reproductive problems, according to the EWG.
Quats may have different names. Such as diethyl ester dimethyl ammonium chloride.
The EWG says, “Avoid them all.”
The EWG post also noted that fragrances are potentially problematic. The label may be vague. So you might not know exactly what chemicals are added to the mix.
Are Dryer Sheets Toxic?
Then, there’s the matter of putting all of these compounds together and subjecting them to high heat.
Has anyone studied the chemical changes that happen during a high heat dryer cycle?
I don’t think so, because I was unable to find any studies that delved into this matter.
But I did find research on how scented products such as dryer sheets release a hornet’s nest of “volatile organic compounds.”
Don’t be fooled by the word “organic.” These chemicals may be toxic or even “hazardous,” according to the authors.
This particular study was published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal. It was titled, Indoor Air Quality: Scented Products Emit a Bouquet of VOCs.
The author cited an immunologist, who stated, “products intended to keep homes smelling fresh can set people up for a lifetime of chemically induced illness.”
It was also noted that repeated exposure can trigger sensitivity to these chemicals.
Are Dryer Sheets Bad for You?
Dr. Josh Axe, DC is a well-known natural health expert with a large online presence.
He’s also no fan of chemical dryer sheets, noting, “Dryer sheets are among the worst offenders for harboring chemicals linked to hormone disruption and asthma.”
Instead he recommends skipping them altogether or using a safe alternative, such as adding 1/4 cup of white vinegar to your laundry rinse cycle.
Safe Dryer Sheets Alternative
If you must have softer laundry, there is the vinegar in your washing machine technique.
Another option is to use all natural soap nuts in your laundry cycle. These little berries contain natural detergents, and, it appears, softening agents too.
If you want to read more about how to use soap nuts, here is an earlier post I published on this safe and very low cost method of doing laundry.
Also, some people use natural wool dryer balls. These soften laundry without any health risks. Your local health food store may carry them or you can order them online.
Pregnant women should not use essential oils unless under medical direction.