Dangerous Fabric Softeners & Safe, Cheap Alternatives

27 Jul

ImageNo parent in their right mind would say, “ I don’t mind that my kid suffers  from allergies and the side effects of that medication because he smells snugly fresh, and that’s what’s really important!” But we are creatures of habit, so it’s all about making a few little changes that add up to a big difference.

“Non-toxic” fabric softener or dryer sheets likely include some of the following not-so-snugly ingredients: alpha-terpineol, benzyl acetate, camphor, benzyl alcohol, limonene, ethyl acetate, pentane, and chloroform. Fabric softener chemicals appear on the Environmental Protection Agency’s hazardous waste list and can cause:

  • central nervous system disorders, headaches, and loss of muscle coordination
  • irritation of mucous membranes and impaired respiratory function
  • nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or drowsiness
  • liver or kidney damage
  • skin disorders and allergic reactions
  • cancer

People are exposed to the chemicals by breathing those great smelling molecules in the air near the clothes or by absorbing them through the skin via direct contact with the snugly soft clothes. Ahhh,  fresh…and deadly! (Remember “I love the smell of Napalm in the morning”?)

Then there’s the damage to your septic tank and gunky buildup in your washer and dryer which is a breeding ground for all sorts of microscopic critters. Eww! Not to mention all the money you spend on whiteners and brighteners to try to undo the effect of the waxy film softeners are designed to leave on your laundry to make them soft and fragranced. You may a well pour scented candle wax in your wash water, its essentially the same thing.

So, what do you do about it?

  • Hang dry. To minimize static, don’t dry clothes completely in the dryer. When they are still at least somewhat damp, hang them to dry or use a drying rack.
  • Dry synthetics separately. Synthetic are really the static culprits, they are the main ones that should be hang dried. If you do use a dryer, keep them separate from natural fabrics like cotton.
  • White vinegar. Its a natural fabric softener and will also help clean the gunk out of your machine. Use 1/2 cup in the wash cycle. Don’t use bleach since it may cause toxic fumes.
  • Baking Soda. Add a 1/2 cup of baking soda to the water in your washing machine and let it dissolve prior to adding your clothes. It acts as a water softener and helps makes clothes super soft.
  • Natural detergents & softeners. There are natural laundry soap containing soy-based fabric softener and liquid fabric softener, such as Ecos Earth Friendly.
  • Aluminum foil. Adding a foil ball to your dryer will dissipate static, and the ball bouncing around will help fluff up the fibers too.
  • Dryer balls. They fluff up the clothes but don’t stop static, so follow the first 2 suggestions when using this method. They also double as massage balls (but not all massage balls can be used as dryer balls). Don’t use tennis balls because their materials release unwanted gasses and can stain clothing.

So lets review: little changes that safeguard your health, washer, clothes, septic tank, which translates to additional savings in medical costs, repair costs, replacement costs, and laundry additive costs. Good for you, good for your budget, good for the environment!

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