Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets, Toxic Dangers of
Many people will remember a
famous TV ad where a woman races to her washing machine, fabric softener in
hand, only to arrive just as the wash ends. This woman who "forgot to add
the fabric softener" was actually doing herself and her family a favor.
Although they may make your
clothes feel soft and smell fresh, fabric softener and dryer sheets are some of
the most toxic products around.
And chances are that the staggering 99.8 percent
of Americans who use common commercial detergents, fabric softeners, bleaches,
and stain removers would think twice if they knew they contained chemicals that
could cause cancer and brain damage.
Fabric softeners and dryer
sheets with scents like April Fresh and Summer Orchard add toxic chemicals to
your laundry and, consequently, your body.
Chemicals in Fabric Softeners & Dryer Sheets
Here is a list of just some
of the chemicals found in fabric softeners and dryer sheets:
Linked to pancreatic cancer
Upper respiratory tract irritant
Ethanol: On the
Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Hazardous Waste list and can cause
central nervous system disorders
A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal
edema, and central nervous system damage
Ethyl Acetate: A
narcotic on the EPA's Hazardous Waste list
central nervous system disorders
Chloroform: Neurotoxic, anesthetic and
narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders
chemical known to be harmful if inhaled
So how could products with
pretty names like Soft Ocean Mist, Summer Orchard and April Fresh be so
The chemicals in fabric
softeners are pungent and strong smelling -- so strong that they require the
use of these heavy fragrances (think 50 times as much fragrance) just to cover
up the smells.
Furthermore, synthetic fabrics, which are the reason fabric
softeners were created in the first place, do not smell good when heated in a
dryer or heated by our bodies ... hence the need for even more hefty
In other words, remove all
the added fragrance that endears people to fabric softeners and -- like the
cliché wolf in sheep's clothing -- the real smells of the chemical-laced fabric
softener and the synthetic fabrics they were designed around may prompt people
to shoot their laundry machines and be done with it.
Are "Soft" Clothes Worth It?
Fabric softeners are made to
stay in your clothing for long periods of time. As such, chemicals are slowly
released either into the air for you to inhale or onto your skin for you to
Dryer sheets are particularly noxious because they are heated in the
dryer and the chemicals are released through dryer vents and out into the
environment. Health effects from being exposed to the chemicals in fabric
Central nervous system
Blood pressure reduction
Irritation to skin, mucus
membranes and respiratory tract
Don't wrap your family in
chemical-coated fabric-softened towels! Simple baking soda will leave your
laundry soft and your health intact.
Soften Your Clothes Safely With These Tips
Even if you don't feel the
effects of these chemicals today, they can affect you gradually over time, and
children, whose systems are still developing, are particularly at risk.
really no reason to expose yourself to these risky chemicals when natural
alternatives exist. Not only are they safer for you, your family and the environment,
but they're much more economical too:
Add a quarter cup of baking soda to the wash cycle to
Add a quarter cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle to soften fabric and eliminate cling.
Check out your local health food store for a natural
fabric softener that uses a natural base instead of chemicals.
It's likely that fabric
softeners and dryer sheets aren't the only toxic products in your home. Many
household products that consumers regard as safe are also full of toxic
chemicals. So buyer beware!