Although they may make your clothes seem soft and smell "sweet", 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.
Here is a list of just some of the chemicals found in fabric softeners and dryer sheets:
Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer
Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant
Ethanol: On the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders
Limonene: Known carcinogen
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
Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders
Chloroform: Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic
Linalool: A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders
Pentane: A 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 dangerous?
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 either when heated in a dryer or heated by our bodies ... hence the need for even more hefty fragrances.
Fabric softeners leave an oil coating on clothes, which doesn’t really leave them softer or fluffy. This oil builds up on the fibers and takes the absorbency out (oil repels water). In the dryer, fabric softener leaves a sticky residue on all the components like the moisture sensors and drum of the dryer. This residue is very flammable, which is why on the back of some fabric softeners it tells you not to use on towels, terrycloth or fleece. The number one cause of house fires is the dryer. Fabric softeners even take the fire retardant out of baby’s clothes.There are alternatives:
Anti-Static Ball (slightly different than dryer balls)
Here are some home-made DIY ideas
The Static Eliminator Dryer Sheet System
Do yourself and your family and your neighbors a big favor and skip the dryer sheets and fabric softener. Thanks, in advance, for your consideration.