The Toxic Truth About Fabric Softeners

Ever thought of what chemicals you're putting into your body when you add fabric softener to the laundry? 

Ever thought of what chemicals you're putting into your body when you add fabric softener to the laundry? 

Who doesn't love the smell of fresh laundry? I did until I learned that I'm likely inhaling a cocktail of several toxic chemicals. Suddenly, rather than feeling all warm and comforted at the thought of fresh, warm laundry, I'm worried about what chemicals I might be inhaling and putting on my body, to be absorbed through my skin. To make matters worse, it's not just the fabric softener that's at fault, but dryer sheets contain a startling number of toxins as well.

Conveniently, fabric softeners and dryer sheets are not required by law to list all their ingredients on the label like food products do. Here is the list of what chemicals are found in fabric softeners and dryer sheets: 

  • Cholorform
  • A-Terpineol
  • Benzyl Alcohol
  • Benzyl Acetate
  • Ethanol
  • Pentane
  • Ethyl Acetate
  • Camphor
  • Linalool
  • Phthalates
  • Limonene

Together, these chemicals can cause a host of health problems for people including: respiratory problems, central nervous system disorders, and cancer, to name the more significant ones. These chemicals can also cause other symptoms such as eye irritation, dizziness, headaches and nausea. Several of these ingredients are also on the EPA's hazardous waste list.  

If you're anything like me, then you're probably starting to feel a little stressed out by this information and wondering: "Okay, well I don't want to be putting toxins into my body, but what option do I have? I like soft clothes that don't have static cling." Luckily for you, I did a little research on alternatives that you can start to put into practice today. Not only are these methods super simple, but they're also more cost effective and better for the environment.

Fabric Softener Alternative: 

  • To replace your fabric softener, you can make your own with distilled white vinegar and 100% essential oil. The scent you pick is up to you - eucalyptus is a nice option.
  • Once you have your oil and vinegar - you can put 30 drops of the essential oil in the vinegar, mix it together and put it in a storage container.  
  • Before using in the laundry, dillute the mixture with water. The proportion is: 1/4 Cup Vinegar Mixture with 3/4 Cup Water

Dryer Sheet Alternative

  • The best option seems to be making your own wool dryer balls
  • Here are two options that I found, and the best part is, they can last up to 5 years, so you're saving yourself many trips to the store, money spent on constantly buying dryer sheets and you're helping yourself and the environment stay healthy
    1. Crunchy Betty's Wool DIY Dryer Balls
    2. Healthy Living's Wool DIY Dryer Balls

Article by: Rajmani Sinclair, April 7, 2016