The smell of fabric softeners is on the minds of many Americans,
or so I assume from the volume of e-mail I receive on the subject.
Many are frantic to get the smell out of their driers, others out
of their clothes, and most want alternatives.
A recent study from Anderson Laboratories gives a clue as to why
this particular household product has become a bee in so many
Here are the details:
Anderson Laboratoriesí chemical analysis of the airborne
emissions of five different kinds of commonly available fabric
softeners was reported in the May, 2000 issue of The Journal of
Toxicology and Environmental Health. Their study revealed that
the fabric softeners emitted toluene, styrene, phenol, thymol,
xylene, and trimethylbenzene, among other chemicals, many of which
cause acute respiratory tract irritation and inflammation.
What You Can Do
Fabric softeners are static cling busters; that is their main
function. They reduce static cling by coating fabric with a waxy
film that fluffs up clothes and changes the negative electrical
charge from the detergent.
Interestingly, natural fabrics donít develop static the way
synthetics do, so step-by-step switching to all natural fabrics
such as organic cotton sheets will help. You can also shake out
the clothes to reduce the static. Fortunately, “green” fabric
softeners are now on the market from brands such as Seventh
Generation and Ecover, that are made of vegetable-based surfactants,
salt, and natural ingredients for scent.
To read the Anderson Laboratories study, click here.