Living healthy>healthy home
- from Dr. Josh Axe
Dryer sheets are part of the daily laundry routine for millions of people. Most of us don't think twice about throwing a sheet or two in the dryer—it's just part of washing clean clothes. And while you might feel warm and fluffy when you pull a warm, fresh load of scented laundry out of the dryer, there's probably something not-so-good going on inside your body.
What if I told you that dryer sheets are packed with ingredients you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy? And those "flowers and flowers" pictured on the dryer sheet box? Don't buy it. The dryer sheets are a really toxic rip off. That means you're paying more for a product that can make you sick.
I'm talking about things like known carcinogens, dangerous pollutants,endocrine disruptorand things that attack certain organs in the most unpleasant way. Let's explore what we know about dryer sheets and your health, then move on to simple alternatives for a safer laundry routine.
Dryer sheets: the facts
Have you ever looked at a box of dryer sheets? You'll likely see images of flowers or clothes drying on the line and make claims about freshness, fabric softness, static reduction and anti-wrinkles. what won't you see Extensive list of chemical cocktails prepared in these sheets. As crazy as it may seem, the current US Consumer Product Safety Commission is doing just thatNOrequire dryer sheet manufacturers to list actual ingredients, including chemicals used in fragrance blends.
To find out what's really in these products that many people use every day, researchers looked at bed sheets and dryer vents to get a better picture. The results aren't pretty. Here is a summary of some of the compounds found in the dryer sheets and dryer vent.
In one of the most interesting studies to date, pioneering olfactory researcher Dr. Anne Steinemann, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Chemicals leaking from dryer vents. Using new, pre-washed organic towels, Steinemann and her team examined emission samples from laundry after using scented fabric softeners and drying towels in clean washing machines and dryers.
What came out of those vents? (And for people's lungs?) Seven dangerous air pollutants and 25 volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some of them, including acetaldehyde and benzene, are not safe in any way. (These are also pollutants commonly found in vehicle exhaust pipes.) (1)
Acetaldehyde is a common ingredient in counterfeit fragrance blends. It is "possibly carcinogenic to humans" and affects the kidneys, nervous and respiratory systems. (2) Although emissions are regulated outdoors, it is completely free when used at home. And that comes with serious side effects.
In a 2016 study, Steinemann found that 12.5 percent of people blame scented laundry products that leak from dryer vents for health problems. These include complaints such as breathing difficulties, runny nose,Asthma cases, skin problems, migraines and even gastrointestinal disorders. (3) Knowing this, physicians should issue fragrance-free prescriptions to all their patients!
However, the truth is that most people have no idea that they are bringing such bad pollution into their neighborhood.
A Steinemann fragrance study found that acetaldehyde emissions from five of the leading brands of scented laundry detergents and dryers "represent about 6 percent of acetaldehyde emissions from automobiles." That is a lot. (4) She also comments:
These products can affect not only personal health, but also the health of the public and the environment. Chemicals can become airborne and enter drains and water reservoirs. We attach great importance to reducing the pollutant emissions of cars. And here there is a source of pollution that can be reduced. (5)
Other studies of dryer sheets and dryer sheet components revealed the following key findings:
- 44 percent of the tested scented laundry products eliminated at least one carcinogenic and dangerous air pollutant. Some of these include acetaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, and formaldehyde. (6)
- A little more directDangers of synthetic fragrancesin laundry products include migraines, asthma attacks, eye and throat irritation, and contact dermatitis.
- In a mouse study, fabric softeners led to restricted air circulation and lung irritation in test animals. (7,8)
- In 2009, nearly 10 percent of the entire US population reported irritation from odors coming from dryer vents. By 2016, that number rose to over 12 percent. (9)
- In a study looking at endocrine disruptors and asthma triggers in everyday products, researchers at the Silent Spring Institute found that dryer sheets contain some of the highest concentrations of harmful fragrance chemicals. Compounds such as acetylhexamethyltetralin, isobornyl acetate, and phenethyl alcohol have also appeared. (10)
- AccordinglyEcoWatchDryer sheets often contain quaternary ammonium compounds, which can trigger asthma attacks. In addition, up to 10 percent of dryer sheet weight can be made up of fragrances. (11,12)
- The "qualities" of dryer sheets vary widely in the Environment Working Group's Healthy Cleaning Guide. Some "F" products contained quaternary ammonium compounds due to their known asthma-inducing properties. Other fabric softeners commonly used in dryer sheets are considered toxic to wildlife. (13)
Better alternatives to store bought dryer sheets
Tumble Dryer Instructions
Tumble Dryer Instructions
The good news is that you can do without dryer sheets. (That's right!) In fact, people have existed and successfully washed their clothes without these modern day scented laundry products for hundreds of years. In fact, the dryer sheet patent didn't exist until 1969. Inventor Conrad J. Gaiser sold the patent to Procter & Gamble, who made bounce dryer sheets. (14)
You can avoid the chemicals in your dryer sheets by using some of these laundry room tactics:
- Add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle of your washing machine.
- Look for plant-based, fragrance-free detergents. (Or make your own fragrance-free perfumeCastilian soap.)
- Hang the garment outside to dry. (You'll love the lower energy costs, too!)
- Add wool dryer balls to your dryer. It also shortens the drying time. You can add a few drops of organic, therapeutic gradepeppermint essential oilForm into balls for a light, natural scent.
- Always use herbal, fragrance-free detergents. Or create your ownhomemade laundry soap.
- Be careful with "green" detergents. In some studies, even some of them released toxic compounds.
- Advocate at your workplace, in your apartment complex and/or with your neighbors to adopt these fragrance-free laundry practices to protect the health of everyone in your community and workplace.
Final thoughts on dryer sheets
- Dryer sheets are among the worst offenders when it comes to hiding chemicals linked to hormonal imbalances and asthma.
- More than 12 percent of the US population reported negative health symptoms related to dryer emissions.
- Many dryer sheets contain chemicals that react with air to form formaldehyde, a possible human carcinogen.
- Other common dryer sheet contaminants include acetaldehyde and benzene, substances that are also found in car exhaust and are by no means considered safe.
- To reduce exposure to dryer chemicals, you can naturally reduce static by adding a quarter cup of white vinegar to your washing machine's rinse cycle. You can also use wool drying balls or hang clothes to dry.
Looking for green options?
Truly Free Home Laundry Sets! –It is based on essential oils, completely natural and environmentally friendly. I love these products. They work so well and Truly Free supports many positive initiatives.I highly recommend giving them a try!
A quick note from our founder
I often don't stick to products, but I just had to share this one!
Some of you may already know that I was diagnosed years agoMultiple Sclerosis.
I still remember how it was when my life changed overnight...
From a nonprofit executive who runs marathons, rock climbs, canyoning and kayaking to being utterly bedridden staring at a wall 15 hours a day.
Of course, I visited many doctors, but unfortunately I did not find the help I needed. So I had to embark on my own journey to find my true path to healing.
I've turned almost every stone to find relief from pain, insomnia, and myriad other symptoms...
18 years later.
I was determined to climb one of nature's true wonders: Machu Picchu, the mystical home of the Incas in Peru.
There my feet, knees, legs and lower back hurt so much after a hard day that I thought I had to give up hope of our next climb, which is Rainbow Mountain! That evening I pulled out a small bottle of Aceite de Magnesio spray that a friend had given me before I left.
What the hell, I thought. I was desperate. I applied it all over my body before bed.
Due to a busy day I woke up expecting to be immobilized but instead we set out to climb Rainbow Mountain and…I was completely pain free!
I know it sounds incredible, but it's 1000% true.
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Dr. Josh Axe
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Can You Dry Clothes Without A Dryer Sheet? In a nutshell, yes! You absolutely don't need to use dryer sheets when you dry your clothes. Fortunately, if you decide to forgo dryer sheets, that doesn't mean you have to live with static cling and stiff clothes.Why does my shirt say not to use dryer sheets? ›
You might have noticed on some tags, especially with athletic and performance clothing, they specifically say NOT to use fabric softeners. This is because the waxy coating can interfere with moisture-wicking and absorption properties.How do you get rid of static without dryer sheets? ›
Just lightly dampen a wash cloth with apple cider vinegar and throw it in the dryer with your clothes. The vinegar prevents static cling and make your clothes softer. You can also use apple cider vinegar instead of liquid fabric softener in the wash cycle.Why are dryer balls better than dryer sheets? ›
Dryer balls are a chemical-free, economical alternative to fabric softener and dryer sheets. They are made from either plastic or wool and are used to reduce drying time, decrease static cling, and soften clothes. Unlike other alternatives, dryer balls do not contain any compounds or ions.Is fabric softener better than dryer sheets? ›
Fabric softener's better but still has problems
Fabric softener doesn't have all the problems that dryer sheets have. As long as you use the right amount, clothes should come out soft and static-free. Also, most brands don't affect absorbency or wicking, according to Consumer Reports.
But dryer sheets can be costly, and some even leave a “slimy” layer on clothing that can damage the fabric and the color. Instead, try aluminum foil. Roll up a sheet of aluminum foil into a ball and throw it in the dryer. This helps to reduce static electricity and keep clothes crisp.What is more eco friendly than dryer sheets? ›
Check out some of the safe alternatives to dryer sheets such as wool dryer balls, aluminum foil balls, reusable lavender dryer bags, soap nuts, vinegar, and baking soda.How do you dry sheets indoors without a dryer? ›
If you don't have a dryer and it's a cold and wet day, you can still get your bed sheets dry inside your home. Simply hang over a large clothes horse and perhaps use a freestanding fan to help with airflow. You can also hang smaller sheets over radiators, and these will dry quicker.Are dryer balls bad for your dryer? ›
Are dryer balls bad for your dryer? Luckily wool is not as dense as synthetic materials, so wool dryer balls won't damage your machine as they bounce around during a drying cycle. Be sure not to overload your dryer with clothes.How can I make my clothes smell good without fabric softener? ›
Use homemade citrus oils.
Mix one cup baking soda, one half cup Borax with one cup white vinegar and 20 drops of lemon or orange citrus oil. Add this mixture to your bottle of laundry detergent and use as normal.
The Kitchen Concoction: Baking Soda & Vinegar
With a few items found in your kitchen pantry, you can mix up your own natural fabric softener. All you need is water, baking soda and vinegar, plus a few drops of essential oils if you'd like it scented. Stir until mixed and add in one-part vinegar (ex: one-half cup).
Add Vinegar To The Rinse Cycle: Vinegar supposedly works as both a fabric softener and static reducer. I added ½ cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle of the washing machine. The vinegar works like a fabric softener to stop clothes from getting stiff.How do I stop my clothes from clinging with static? ›
Use fabric conditioner in the wash, as it helps reduce friction and static as well as giving fabrics a soft, fluffy feel. If you're trying to cut down on chemicals, white vinegar works as a natural fabric softener and will help reduce static.Does vinegar take static out of clothes? ›
Using white vinegar in the dryer is another great trick for eliminating static. Simply spray a clean washcloth, sock, pre-cut piece of cloth or any other garment with vinegar. This item is then tossed into the dryer with everything else.Can you use tennis balls as dryer balls? ›
The belief is that tennis balls can soften items in the dryer as well as speed up the amount of time it takes to fully dry. Luckily, the trick does seem to work, so rather than resorting to a chemical-based fabric softener, you can simply toss in a few tennis balls (as long as they're clean!).Do tennis balls help in the dryer? ›
Speed Up Drying Times
Besides reducing wrinkles and fluffing towels, a few tennis balls can help speed up drying time, so your laundry will be done faster.
Aside from leaving fabrics smelling fresh and feeling soft, dryer sheets provide an important safety service. They help eliminate static on clothing. Static can cause dryer fires if a spark ignites debris in the lint trap. (An important reason to keep the lint trap clean.)Why don't you use fabric softener? ›
“Not only can it irritate sensitive skin, but it can also leave a layer of residue on your clothes and reduce the absorption of your towels,” he told us. Fabric softeners work by depositing a layer of electrically charged chemical compounds on fabric.Should you use dryer sheets with towels? ›
Dryer sheets work well for most everyday items made of natural fibers, such as cotton shirts, pants and socks, but it's best to avoid using dryer sheets on athleticwear & microfiber, towels, flame-resistant clothing and water-repellent fabric.Do dryer sheets reduce wrinkles? ›
Here's some information you might find surprising: One of the ways to prevent all kinds of wrinkles in your clothes is to dry them with a dryer sheet, which contains softening agents. Bounce® dryer sheets works to relax wrinkles and soften creases in your clothes.
People often wrap tin foil around your door knobs when home alone to make it more difficult for burglars to enter the home. This is an especially effective measure if you have a glass door, as wrapping tin foil around the doorknob will make it much harder for a burglar to break the glass in order to gain entry.Can vinegar replace dryer sheets? ›
Unsurprisingly, vinegar is a great replacement for dryer sheets! Either add 1/4 cup of vinegar to the wash cycle for softer clothes or dampen a washcloth with vinegar and throw that into the dryer. White or apple cider vinegar works.How to make clothes smell good in dryer without dryer sheets? ›
Instead, use dryer balls. Wool balls are a popular option, but the old-fashioned tennis ball trick works, too. Simply add a few tennis balls to the dryer when drying towels and linens, and they will fluff up the clothes and circulate the air inside the dryer, without adding chemicals.What bugs hate dryer sheets? ›
Most dryer sheets contain the ingredient linalool, which can be found in plants like lavender, basil, and coriander, all of which naturally repel common garden pests. Similar studies found that this ingredient is also useful for repelling bugs like mites, weevils, beetles, and German cockroaches.Do dryer balls reduce static? ›
They reduce static because they absorb humidity at the start of the drying cycle, then release it at the end. Over-drying clothes and bedding breeds static electricity, and humidity is the key to eliminating it. According to Amy, the biggest benefits of Wool Dryer Balls include: Reduce drying time.What's the fastest way to dry clothes without a dryer? ›
- Make the most of a sunny winter day. ...
- Try out the drying rack hack. ...
- Keep windows open a tiny bit. ...
- Hang clothes on the curtain rail. ...
- Bite the bullet with a heated clothes airer. ...
- Invest in a dehumidifier. ...
- Create a dedicated drying space. ...
- Don't overload the washing machine.
- Get rid of excess water. ...
- Consider where you hang your clothes. ...
- Place fan in front of laundry. ...
- Dry clothes in well ventilated room. ...
- Heated airers could make a world of difference. ...
- Use coat hangers. ...
- Rotate the clothes. ...
- Dehumidifier to remove moisture.
Since they wouldn't agitate against other clothes, they would just be rinsed. The same thing happens in the dryer. If you throw a set of sheets with clothes, then the drying time would be a lot longer. Because clothes would get trapped between the sheets, they wouldn't get enough heat to dry correctly.What are the downsides of dryer balls? ›
Cons Of Dryer Balls:
Make a loud noise when drying clothes. Wool can fall off with extended use and move into the lint drawer. Not as effective with large loads of laundry.
According to Parachute Home, wool dryer balls are often better when it comes to overall performance. This is because of their absorbent material that draws water away from the clothes allowing them to dry faster.
If you only use the wool dryer balls once or twice a week, then it's best to clean them once every two to three months. On the other hand, if you use them more than once a week, I recommend cleaning them once a month because of the build-up that can occur over time.What's the best smelling laundry detergent? ›
- Persil Laundry Detergent Liquid, Intense Fresh Scent.
- Seventh Generation EasyDose Laundry Detergent Fresh Lavender Scent.
- Tide with Downy Laundry Detergent Liquid Soap, High Efficiency (HE), April Fresh Scent.
- Dropps Stain & Odor Laundry Detergent - Orange Blossom.
You obviously don't want to put a paper towel through the wash, but you can throw your scented paper towel in the dryer just like a dryer sheet to impart a lovely scent on all your freshly laundered clothes.How do people get their clothes to smell so good? ›
Absorb any nasty odors by placing a small bowl of baking soda at the bottom of your wardrobe. Freshen clothes between washes by chucking them in the dryer with a Gain Dryer Sheet for a few minutes or spritzing some Original Febreze with Gain Scent Fabric Refresher on them.Can I use Epsom salt as a fabric softener? ›
Recipe 2: Epsom Salt Option
Make your own fabric softener crystals by adding 40 drops of essential oils of your choosing to two cups of epsom salts (or coarse salt), and a half cup of baking soda. Add ingredients to a mason jar and shake well to coat all granules.
When paired with your laundry detergent, ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda uses the power of pure sodium bicarbonate — a natural occurring substance — to: Neutralize odors by balancing pH levels, and. Soften wash water, so you can use less detergent or bleach — and make it more effective.How do I get rid of static without anything? ›
- Use a humidifier. Dry air is among the leading causes of static electricity. ...
- Wear low-static shoes and fabrics. ...
- Add baking soda to laundry. ...
- Treat clothing with unique products. ...
- Tackle carpets and rugs. ...
- Rub upholstery with dryer sheets. ...
- Employ metal objects.
Static electricity happens more often during the colder seasons because the air is drier, and it's easier to build up electrons on the skin's surface. In warmer weather, the moisture in the air helps electrons move off of you more quickly so you don't get such a big static charge.How do I get rid of static cling ASAP? ›
Rub the clinging areas with a damp cloth or paper towel. Increasing humidity will offer temporary relief of electrostatic forces. Run a wire clothes hanger or piece of aluminum foil between the clinging areas. The metal helps discharge the electricity, thereby removing the static.Why are my clothes suddenly full of static? ›
This is due to the fact that dry air is an electrical insulator and this shocking or clinging static buildup often happens in the winter months when the air has a lower humidity rate. And the dry, hot air in a tumble dryer can cause even more static electricity in clothes, hence why your clothes may be staticky.
Hang Clothes to Dry: You can eliminate static cling by skipping the dryer altogether and hanging your clothes up to dry either outside or inside on a drying rack. Either way, you'll not only stop static, but you'll reduce your energy bill and be doing something good for the health of the planet.Is it safe to put aluminum foil in the dryer? ›
Instead, try aluminum foil. Roll up a sheet of aluminum foil into a ball and throw it in the dryer. This helps to reduce static electricity and keep clothes crisp. Plus, it will not leave any grime on your clothing, and it can be reused for 1-2 months, which can save a lot of money on your laundry!Why are my clothes static after drying with dryer sheets? ›
The repeated friction, much like rubbing socks on a carpet, results in the transfer of electrons between material, charging them with either positive or negative values. Like a magnet, these opposites attract, creating static electricity. This effect is enhanced with synthetic clothing material, or cold, dry air.Is it necessary to use fabric softener? ›
Do I Need Fabric Softener? The simple answer to this question is: no. You don't need to use fabric softener in your wash. Fabric softeners don't contribute to the washing and cleaning of your clothes, so you don't need to worry about stain removal or lingering odors if you leave it out.Does aluminum foil work as a dryer sheet? ›
Aluminum Dryer Sheets
But dryer sheets can be costly, and some even leave a “slimy” layer on clothing that can damage the fabric and the color. Instead, try aluminum foil. Roll up a sheet of aluminum foil into a ball and throw it in the dryer. This helps to reduce static electricity and keep clothes crisp.
Dryer sheets can also damage or diminish the functionality of some fabrics. Dryer sheets are made to disperse a thin coat of waxy chemicals to your clothing. That waxy chemical layer is what makes the fabrics feel softer and keeps the fabric from clinging to itself.When should you avoid fabric softener? ›
Avoid Using Fabric Softeners on Certain Fabrics
You'll also want to skip the fabric softener on specialty fabrics like wicking sportswear, flameproof children's clothes or pajamas, or water-resistant items, and synthetic fabrics like polyester or anything containing elastane and nylon (think skinny jeans or leggings).
- Here are five green alternatives for fabric softener:
- Baking Soda. Yes, baking soda can actually soften your fabric! ...
- Dry Towel. ...
- Crumpled Aluminum Foil. ...
- Air Dry. ...
- Tennis Ball.
Mildew and mold buildup are some of the most common culprits of foul-smelling laundry. According to the CDC, mold, and mildew develop in the presence of excessive moisture. You may have excess moisture build-up if you wait too long to transfer your clothes from the washing machine to the dryer.Why do you put tennis balls in dryers? ›
Besides reducing wrinkles and fluffing towels, a few tennis balls can help speed up drying time, so your laundry will be done faster.
Recharging your dryer balls helps remove any lint and fiber build-up and helps rehydrate over-dried wool fibers. It's recommended to recharge them after every 100 loads by washing them. (Same as above: gentle wash, dry on high heat.) What if my pet gets ahold of them?