Although they make your clothes feel soft and smell “fresh”, fabric softeners and dryer sheets are some of the most toxic products. They add toxic chemicals to your laundry and, consequently, your body. Our skin is our largest organ and has a transdermal effect, so what we put on our body is just as important as what we put in it, which chemicals like these that stay on your clothes and have contact with your skin the majority of the day will have some effect on your health. Since fabric softeners are designed to stay on your clothes for extended periods of time, such chemicals can seep out gradually and be inhaled or absorbed directly through the skin.
According to Scientific American, some of the most harmful ingredients in dryer sheets and liquid fabric softeners include:
-benzyl acetate (linked to pancreatic cancer)
-benzyl alcohol (an upper respiratory tract irritant)
-ethanol (linked to central nervous system disorders)
-chloroform (a neurotoxin and carcinogen)
-surfactant nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE) (reproductive problems)
The benefits of using dryer balls:
-reusable, can last up to 1,000 loads (once they start to unravel its time to replace)
-helps separate the clothes while in the dryer allows additional air flow through to dry clothes faster
-helps reduce wrinkles and static of clothing
-save you money on fabric softener and dryer sheets
How to use:
-use 2-3 dryer balls depending on size of load (they will work more efficiently with small to medium loads allowing the balls to bounce around and do their job) You will need more for larger loads
Most dryer balls are made of wool or bamboo fibers (these are the ones that you want to look for to purchase)
If you are looking for an added scent to your laundry, after the load is completely dried, take out the dyer balls and apply a desired amount of essential oil to each ball. Toss the dryer balls back into the dryer and run the load on “Air Fluff” for 10 minutes (no heat), so that the delicate essential oil is not damaged.
I have created a list of recommendations of non-toxic laundry products with pictures of a few of my favorites here. Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent is my most used detergent as it is the most economic of the non-toxic brands and does a great job!