Who doesn’t love the smell of clean laundry? When we take our clothing out of a hot dryer there’s an expectation that they’ll smell fresh and clean. That signature scent is usually from the detergent, dryer sheets and other laundry products we’re using.
For many of us, it’s almost second nature to throw a dryer sheet into the dryer with a load of wet laundry. We use them to prevent static cling, provide a fresh scent, and soften clothing. Dryer sheets have been around for a long time. They were originally created by a chemist way back in 1960 and were called “Tumble Puffs”. A few years later the patented formula was sold to Procter & Gamble who marketed the product as Bounce dryer sheets.
The use of conventional dryer sheets may come with a few perks but there’s a dark side: common ingredients in dryer sheets contain harmful chemicals.
What’s in your dryer sheets?
The Environmental Working Group gave Bounce dryer sheets a “D”, which suggests a high concern and a likely hazard to health or the environment.
Did you know that there’s no requirement in the United States for companies to disclose all ingredients in dryer sheets? One of the biggest loopholes is the use of “fragrance” which is generally a cocktail of hundreds of synthetic chemicals that legally don’t need to be disclosed and are protected as a company trade secret. Some of these hidden ingredients are known to trigger allergic reactions and other health issues.
There could be other harmful chemicals hiding in our dryer sheets that can cause a wide array of health issues ranging from skin irritations to cancer. The toxic chemicals leave a residue on our clothing which gives them a prime opportunity to enter our body through our skin.
A University of Washington study of top-selling laundry products, including dryer sheets, found the products emitted dozens of different chemicals. Each product tested gave off at least one chemical regulated as toxic or hazardous under federal laws, but none of those chemicals was listed on the product labels.
Alternatives to conventional dryer sheets
Ready to give up your addiction to dryer sheets? Don’t worry, you won’t have to give up all the perks. There are a few safer alternatives that do the job.
- Use dryer balls. I recently started using Molly’s Suds Wool Dryer Balls ($19 for 3). I received a sample at ShiftCon and finally gave them a try. They’re fantastic! No perfumes, no dyes, and each one can last up to 3 years. If you want to infuse your laundry with a safe scent add 2-5 drops of your favorite essential oil directly to the dryer balls.
Another option is Eco Nuts wool dryer balls. I’ve tried them and thought they worked well. They cost a few dollars more than Molly’s ($28 for 4).
- Vinegar. You can also try adding 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar to each load of laundry during the rinse cycle. If you don’t like the smell of vinegar this option isn’t for you.
- Hypoallergenic option. If you’re trying to stay away from wool there’s a hypoallergenic option: Life Miracle Dryer Balls ($11).
If you’re looking for a safer laundry detergent I have three favorites.
Do you have any safe alternatives to dryer sheets to share?