I personally donít use liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets. I am too lazy to add another step to my laundry routine and I donít really like the idea of chemicals on my clothing! I like my jeans stiff and quite frankly enjoy the sandpaper feel of my towels.
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 EPAís 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 EPAís 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.
I canít even pronounce half of the ingredients listed above and the effect they have on humans are pretty scary.
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, vapors 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 skin, mucus 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? For me: The answer is, †”No.”
So how come products with pretty names like Snuggle, Blue Touch and Cuddle Fluff can be so dangerous? I am thinking the cuddly little brown bear isnít looking so sweet anymore.
If you decide that fabric softener is no longer for you, try some non-toxic options like adding vinegar to your wash, or spray vinegar on a cloth, add some essential oils and toss in the dryer with your clothing-which works great by the way. You can also add baking soda to the wash cycle, or air dry your clothing.
I have also heard of putting a ball of aluminum foil in the dryer while drying your clothing. Alternatively,† you can purchase wool balls to use in place of dryer sheets. I have never personally tried either- so I canít vouch for their effectiveness.
I think I am going to skip the bear and stick to my vinegar! Seriously, vinegar really is that versatile!
©†Herr Hans Gruber