Are Dryer Sheets Toxic?

 

Dryer sheets are accepted as an important part of a laundry routine. Sometimes called fabric softener sheets, it’s often used for the pleasant smell, reducing static, and softening clothes. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting all that, do you want all the other potentially dangerous parts of dryer sheets? Are there hazards in using dryer sheets?

 

Why You Should Avoid Using Dryer Sheets?

 

This is a cause for debate. On one hand, studies have been known to show a large amount of VOCs emitted from dryer sheets but, on the other hand, some people say those studies were unreliable or mixed their tests with other products besides dryer sheets. You may have seen these conflicting results and wondered what the final conclusion is. Should you avoid using dryer sheets? What are the real dangers, if any?

 

are dryer sheets toxic

 

The good news is that most of the chemicals known to be used in them are not as hazardous as initially thought. But, there are a few catches to that. The manufacturers are not required to disclose all or any ingredients used in their products. Dryer sheets, and in fact any laundry product, are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This regulatory board is lax about what the manufacturer needs in order to put a product on the market. The laundry products are often not even tested before being released to the public. So, you do have to think twice before you trust your dryer sheet’s ingredient list. There may be some ugly surprises you don’t know about.

Even “green” or “natural” dryer sheet companies have been found to include many of the same high VOC emissions. It’s not always as good as it sounds. The one ingredient that we do know is toxic is fragrance. Synthetic fragrances are known to cause respiratory illnesses and worsen existing conditions. There are also compelling theories of connections between endocrine and hormonal disruption as a result of repeated exposure to fragranced products.

 

are dryer sheets toxic

 

Once you are exposed to those chemicals and absorb them through your skin, often into your bloodstream as well, you may be making a bad recipe once you are exposed to the next set of chemicals from another product. The dangers of mixing these chemicals in your body and on your skin are not yet fully understood. But, the potential is there.

Air quality was even shown to improve once dryer sheets were removed from an area. The effects of dryer sheets are in the air, not just on your skin once you come in contact with the clothing. The laundry room may be filled with synthetic fragrances and other chemicals during a laundry day. It’s not confirmed just how dangerous all these ingredients are, with the exception of the fragrances. It’s a situation of rather being safe than sorry until more studies can confirm what’s going on!

 

Read More: Best Non-Toxic Cleaning Products for Yout Home

 

What’s the Best Alternative to Dryer Sheets?

 

There are several alternatives for softening your laundry besides dryer sheets. These are some ideas you can try for yourself (but I’ll save the best for last):

  • Distilled white vinegar: This method of softening is done before your clothes make it to the dryer. It leaves no residue on the clothing and can even help to keep pet hair and lint from clinging to your clothes. You just add a ½ cup to your final rinse cycle in the washing machine. It’s as easy as that. It’s hypoallergenic and therefore baby safe. You can add an aroma of your choice by adding a couple of drops of your favorite aroma in the vinegar.
  • Vinegar and Baking Soda: This mixture will work well for reducing odors and brightening your whites, plus you get to watch the natural chemical reaction. After all, a volcano at a science fair is made up of the same ingredients! There’s also another “recipe” that includes essential oils too for the good smells.

 

are dryer sheets toxic

 

  • Hair conditioner and vinegar: Some people enjoy the extra soft and fluffy results of this mixture. However, if you aren’t careful, you may be putting just as many harmful chemicals in your laundry. You’ll need to choose the right, natural conditioner and then also weigh up the cost. It could easily end up being expensive.
  • Epsom salt and baking soda: This is a misconception. While many people will claim that this “miracle material”, Epsom salts, is a good choice for your laundry, it’s not. Regular salt, even just table salt, is ideal for soaking your laundry to soften it. But, Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate. Salt is sodium chloride, which softens the water. Epsom salts increase the magnesium in water, thus making it harder. Harder water will not soften your clothes. Quite the contrary. Regular salt is especially effective with softening natural fibers.

 

Why Wool Dryer Balls Are The Best Alternative to Dryer Sheets?

 

And now, as promised, I’ve saved the best for last. The best alternative to dryer sheets is none other than wool dryer balls. It’s as simple as it sounds. It’s 100% natural, unbleached wool that is often felted into a hard ball that you stick into the dryer with your load of laundry. If you want to add smells, you just need to put a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil on the balls.

Just remember to only use essential oils on a non-heated dryer setting. Otherwise, the oils can cause a fire under high temperatures. These wool dryer balls can last up 1000 washes, or 2-5 years. Here are some more reasons why you should consider using these instead of potentially toxic dryer sheets:

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  • Long-lasting: It will not require constant resupplying, so it’s a very sustainable and eco-friendly option. Once you make the initial purchase, you won’t need to buy more for another few years.

 

  • Cheaper: Just think of all the money you can save from having a reusable fabric softener instead of buying more products each month.

 

  • Easy to use: Unlike other alternatives, there is no pouring, spraying, or scooping needed to use wool dryer balls. You just pop them into the dryer with your clothes. No extra steps.

 

  • Reduces static electricity: They have been known to reduce a lot of the static. All without coating your clothes in a residue like dryer sheets would.

 

  • Improves drying time: Some wool dryer balls can reduce the drying time by up to 25%. It does this by separating everything as it tumbles, which improves air circulation. This also means a lower electricity bill and less energy usage. Win-win.

 

  • No fragrances. In fact, no toxins at all: This is the main reason to use wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets. It’s a guaranteed safe option for softening your laundry without any added perfumes or chemicals. If you buy certified, natural wool dryer balls, there is no question about whether or not it’s hazardous – unlike dryer sheets.

 

are dryer sheets toxic

 

Conclusion

 

Through these clever alternatives, you can get all the perks of dryer sheets – reduced static, softer clothes, good aromas – without the dangerous possibilities of toxins. Using a safe, natural alternative to dryer sheets, like wool dryer balls, will eliminate the possibility of exposure to chemicals, while preserving the luxuries of softer clothes. Check our website to find other solutions for a chemical-free home.

 

Read More: How to Wash Organic Cotton?

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