For most people adding a dryer sheet along with their laundry to the dryer is routine and a seemingly harmless way to bring a fresh, clean smell to their laundry. Most associate the fresh smell of laundry just dried with a dryer sheet as a sign of cleanliness and health. Unfortunately this is not reality. Not according to scientific research published in the May 2000 edition of “The Journal Of Toxicology and Environmental Health”. According to this research conducted on mice who inhaled the substances emitted from laundry dried with dryer sheets, these seemingly fresh odors are very detrimental to our respiratory and overall health.
The abstract of the study concludes, “The results provide a toxicological basis to explain some of the human complaints of adverse reactions to fabric softener emissions”. Another scary point made by the authors of this study was that the mere presence of laundry formerly dried with dryer sheets, emitted a detectable amount of toxic chemicals in a room.
Wool Dryer Balls – Pack of 6 – Natural Fabric Softener, Reusable, Reduce Wrinkles, Saves Drying Time. Anti Static Large Felted Wool Clothes Dryer Balls is a Better Alternative to Plastic Balls.So what specific toxins are in dryer sheets and why are they so bad? Well this is a tough question to answer as the US government does not require manufacturers to list the ingredients used to produce the artificial fragrances. When researchers like Anne Steinemann PhD study the chemicals emitted from dryer vents, 7 hazardous air pollutants and 25 volital organic compounds (VOC’s) were detected.
Some of the toxins like acetaldehyde and benzene are not safe at even the lowest levels. Exposure to these hazardous compounds has been associated with respiratory disorders, increased frequency and severity of asthma attacks, skin irritations, runny nose, headaches and others.
Unfortunately, the fresh fields of lavender that furry little teddy bears dance through are not representative of the product. There is no real lavender, only man-made imitations that produce toxic results. Instead consider natural alternatives. The best way to ensure that you and your family are breathing natural odors is to use essential oils such as lavender or peppermint.
Here is a step by step guide to create your own reusable dryer sheets that only use the essential oils you add for fragrance:
- Wrap wool yarn around two of your fingers about 10-12 times, then wrap it 4-5- times around the middle, forming a loop.
- Continue wrapping wool yarn around this loop to form a ball of yarn about the size of a tennis ball. Make three to four of these wool balls.
- Cut a leg from a pair of old pantyhose and add one ball to the bottom of the foot and tie a knot right above it firmly in place. Add the second ball and tie a knot and so forth. At this point it should look similar to a sausage link.
- Wash the wool yarn balls inside the pantyhose with a load of laundry and dry completely in the dryer.
- When they are completely dry, remove the wool balls from the pantyhose and they are ready!
- Use these balls to replace dryer sheets. Add a few drops of lavender or peppermint essential oil to the wool ball before using (other essential oils and blends will work too). 2-3 drops on a ball should be good for 3-4 loads of laundry.
As you can see this will not only reduce you and your family’s exposure to toxic chemicals, but will also save money!
Here are a few other considerations for toxic free Laundry:
- To reduce static, add a ball of aluminum foil to the dryer.
- To add extra fragrance, add a wet towel with a few drops of essential oil (your favorite scent) to the dryer.
- To remove grease and oil from your laundry, add a few drops of lemon essential oil the wash load.
- For extra soft laundry, add a 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the load. Once it is dry, it will not smell like vinegar!