Dryer sheets are fairly simple products that many of us have been accustomed to using as a regular part of washing and drying our clothes to get that “fresh scent,” that’s often promoted by all of those marketing ads. We’ve bought into the hype that they’re necessary, but in truth, all they are is just another source of exposure to toxic chemicals.
If you pick up a box of dryer sheets off the store shelves, don’t expect to see a list of ingredients like you would on a food item. Because it isn’t meant to be consumed, the manufacturers don’t have to list them all.
You’ll likely see something like, “biodegradable cationic softeners,” which are created to help make clothes static-free, but are actually toxic chemicals that build up in the body, wreaking havoc on our nervous system over time.
The amount of fragrance chemicals used is also rather extensive, generally making up around 10 percent of the contents of the product. These rub off of the dryer sheet, coating your clothing in a slimy layer to make your clothes feel softer.
Here is a look at five of the potentially harmful chemicals found in dryer sheets – providing as many reasons not to use them.
Alpha-Terpineol has been linked to central nervous system disorders as well as headaches, respiratory depression and loss of muscular coordination. The Material Safety Data Sheet lists this compound as being highly irritating to mucous membranes and state that inhaling it into the lungs can result in pneumonitis or even fatal edema.
Chloroform is on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste List and is carcinogenic as well as neurotoxic. It has been linked with kidney, liver, heart and skin disorders. The inhalation of its vapors may cause headache, dizziness, sleepiness, nausea or vomiting, irritation of the respiratory tract and even loss of consciousness. Inhalation can also be fatal. Over time, extensive liver and/or kidney damage can develop.
Pentane can be harmful if inhaled, causing headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness and even loss of consciousness. The repeated inhalation of the vapors can cause nervous system depression while prolonged exposure to the skin can result in dermatitis.
Ethyl Acetate is a narcotic on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list that can cause eye irritation and irritate the respiratory tract. It may also cause headache, narcosis and anemia with leukocytosis, liver and kidney damage.
Benzyl Acetate has been linked to pancreatic cancer. Its vapors can cause irritation to eyes and respiratory passages. It can also be absorbed through the skin and cause systemic effects.
A safe alternative
If those 5 reasons are enough to convince you to stop buying dryer sheets, and they should be, there is a safe alternative. Wool balls don’t contain any toxic chemicals and last for thousands of loads, so you’ll save money too.
They get rid of annoying static cling and wrinkles as well as help to soften clothes. They can even help cut down drying time which will save on energy usage. Wool dryer balls work by bouncing around in the dryer to separate clothes, which allows more hot air to circulate throughout.
To make, you’ll need one skein of 100% wool yarn, which typically makes 4 balls. For one ball, wrap the yarn around your fingers about 20 times and then slip it off and wrap the yarn around the middle of the circle you just made another 20 more times.
Next, pinch the start of your yarn ball together and continue to wrap nice and tight. When finished, just tuck the end of the yarn under some of the other strands of yarn to secure. Repeat for each ball you wish to make.
Now you’ll have a fun little project to make that will help benefit your health and save money on all of those dryer sheets you’ve probably been buying!
If you don’t have time, an alternative is to use an old wool sweater in with your laundry to decrease drying time and reduce static.
– The Alternative Daily