We’re exposed to hundreds of toxins every day, and although we can’t remove every toxin, we can take steps to reduce our exposure. Sometimes it’s as easy as swapping out one item for another – and in this case, that’s dryer sheets.
Exposure to toxins, such as those found in dryer sheets, have been strongly linked with neurological diseases (neurotoxicity), hormone imbalances, respiratory problems and even cancer.
11 Toxic Reasons To Ditch Dryer Sheets
Unfortunately, there are no laws in place which require dryer sheet manufacturers to list chemicals used in their making. Sometimes you might see listed, “biodegradable cationic softeners”, which essentially means toxic chemicals that build up in our body and wreak havoc on our nervous system.
Studies have been done that looked at what chemicals were “released” by laundry products like dryer sheets. One study found that more than 25 volatile air pollutants (like carcinogens, acetaldehyde, and benzene) are released from dryer sheets when heated. “This is an interesting source of pollution because emissions from dryer vents are essentially unregulated,” said Dr. Steinemann, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and public affairs at the University of Washington. “If they’re coming out of a smokestack or tail pipe, they’re regulated, but if they’re coming out of a dryer vent, they’re not.”
It is rarely discussed, however, the impact that dryer sheets have on polluting the air is much more dangerous than one might think. Another study found the fumes to cause irritation of the throat, eyes, nose, and lungs.
In the 1990’s, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and industry-generated Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) created the following list of chemicals found in common fabric softener:
1. Alpha-Terpineol: can cause headaches, loss of muscular control, central nervous system damage and respiratory problems.
2. Benzyl Alcohol: respiratory tract irritant, central nervous system depressant, death.
3. Camphor: Causes central nervous disorders, confusion, and is easily absorbed through the skin.
4. Chloroform: a known carcinogenic neurotoxin.
5. Ethyl Acetate: a narcotic on the EPA’s “hazardous waste” list.
6. Linalool: causes central nervous system disorders, reduced spontaneous motor activity and depresses heart activity.
7. Pentane: harmful if inhaled, and cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, loss of consciousness and central nervous system depression.
8. Benzyl Acetate: has been linked to pancreatic cancer.
9. Limonene: a known carcinogen that irritates the eyes and skin.
10. Dichlorobenzene: extremely carcinogenic solvent used to make paint thinners.
11. Ethanol: on the EPA’s “hazardous waste” list – can cause central nervous system disorders.
The list above also doesn’t include fragrance chemicals, which are incredibly carcinogenic in themselves, and can cause headaches and dizziness.
6 Natural Alternatives To Dryer Sheets
There are so many alternatives to dryer sheets, most of which will save you money, and make sure your home and clothes aren’t infused with toxic fumes.
The below methods will ensure your clothes are static-free (and toxic-free!):
Method 1: Add 1/4 cup (or less) of vinegar to your laundry wash cycle, or add 1/4 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle.
Method 2: Switch to a green fabric softener, such as those made by Seventh Generation or Mrs. Meyer’s (best in my opinion). If you do not have those brands, look for brands made with vegetable-based surfactants, salt, and natural scents.
Method 3: Choose clothing made from natural fibers, which don’t get static cling as readily as synthetic fibers.
Method 4: Shake out your clothes after removing them from the dryer. Surprisingly, this will get rid of static.
Method 5: If your clothes are already clean, use a metal hanger to brush inside the garment when it is already being worn.
Method 6: Make your own wool dryer balls.