A few years ago I quit buying dryer sheets. Why, you may ask? Because they simply aren’t necessary and they definitely aren’t healthy! In 2000, Anderson Laboratories conducted a study to determine if the chemicals used to make dryer sheets can cause health problems for some people. Researchers exposed mice to five commercial fabric softener dryer sheets for 90 minutes each. They found the emissions induced sensory irritation, lung irritation, airflow limitation and mild inflammation of the lungs. Small children are much more vulnerable to these chemical emissions than adults. Do you want these dangerous products in your home, on our body, and near your children? I think not!
Dryer sheets contain ingredients that seem to contribute to allergies, asthma, multiple chemical sensitivities, and other respiratory disorders. Scary chemicals like trimethylbenzene, styrene, thymol, isopropylbenzene, and phenol — all well known respiratory irritants — were found in all the dryer sheets tested. Eek!
While this time of the year can be very dry and therefore very static-y, I figured out how to avoid static cling without spending money or creating more waste for the landfill. The solution: I only put natural fibers into the dryer. Synthetic materials like rayon and polyester cause huge amounts of static, so I put these items (athletic shorts, Evelyn’s feet pajamas, etc) on the drying rack to air dry. Since cotton doesn’t conduct electricity, it won’t build up a static charge and it can go into the dryer with no threat of eventual static cling.
If you feel like you aren’t capable of sorting clothes as they leave the washing machine, just add 1 cup of plain white vinegar to the rinse cycle to soften all fabrics and avoid static cling. The best part of this trick? No scent!! While commercial fabric softeners usually leave behind a nauseating floral odor, the vinegar rinses clean. I sometimes use a cup of vinegar when washing Evelyn’s cloth diapers as it seems to help remove any lingering odors.
And, as always, every load of our laundry includes my homemade laundry detergent – so cheap! so easy! so much kinder to the environment!
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