Chemical dryer sheets are as popular as laundry detergent when it comes to washing clothes. They work well – they soften your clothes and eliminate static electricity. However, have you ever stopped to think about what’s in dryer sheets? After all, whatever is in them is getting melted all over your clothes every time you use them.
Chemical dryer sheets are not as safe as you think they are. Most people have never considered the vagueness of these sheets. The truth is that they could be harmful to you as well as the environment. Here are five reasons you should toss them out (plus alternatives you can use instead).
5 Reasons to Toss Out Dryer Sheets
Do you use these products when you do your laundry chores? Here are several reasons why you should stop!
1. There is no government regulation of dryer sheets.
Agencies like the FDA or the USDA often regulate many products on the market to ensure their safety. However, dryer sheets aren’t regulated by any government agency in the United States. Manufacturers have total freedom to make their dryer sheets however they want to.
The reason for this is that dryer sheets aren’t meant for human consumption or for topical use (meaning on the skin). Since they’re technically meant for clothing, this means they don’t need to be regulated for human safety as far as the body is concerned.
This means that manufacturers can put anything in their dryer sheets that do not make them flammable. That’s a scary thought when there are so many dangerous substances on the market.
It would be nice to be able to trust the honor system. However, with the history of recalled products in this country, that doesn’t seem logical. Many manufacturers will use anything in their products that are cheap and helps them save money.
2. They contain unknown chemicals.
If you’ve ever taken the time to read the ingredients listed on a box of chemical dryer sheets? If you have, you probably found one of two things. Either the ingredients listed were some vague description that doesn’t really tell you what’s in them (like the synthetic fragrance or woven sheets) or the ingredients weren’t listed at all.
Since dryer sheets aren’t regulated, they aren’t required to list the ingredients that they use. However, a quick internet search can reveal the most common ingredients used in chemical dryer sheets. You may be shocked by what you find.
Believe it or not, the contents of the ingredients list are not the biggest problem. The problem with not listing ingredients is that some people may be allergic to them. How can they make the determination that a brand of dryer sheets is good for them if the ingredients aren’t listed on the box? They can’t.
3. They are harmful to the environment.
The benefits of recycling and biodegradable materials have been well established and taught. However, most chemical dryer sheets are not biodegradable. They are made of synthetic materials that will continue to pile up in landfills as more and more people use them.
There are a few biodegradable brands out there. However, they’re only slightly better than regular brands. They still don’t list their ingredients and they still aren’t regulated.
They can also still be bad for allergies. Synthetic fragrances are a big allergy trigger. They also emit volatile organic compounds that are harmful to people and the environment. Who knows what other triggers are in the sheets?
4. They can cause your dryer to malfunction.
These clothing softener products contain a meltable coating that gets all over your clothes as the dryer tumbles. The problem with this is that this coating also gets all over your dryer as well. It may take a while, but with every dryer sheet you use, you’re closer to making your dryer malfunction and even create a fire hazard.
For one, this coating will clog your lint trap. Even if you remove the lint after each dry, the coating is so thin that it will clog the fine mesh. You’ll need to perform extra cleaning, likely with a toothbrush or something similar, to ensure that the lint trap doesn’t clog.
There is a part inside your dryer called the electronic monitoring sensor. This part is what senses that your clothes are dry and turns your dryer off (if you have this feature). The coating from the dryer sheet can coat this sensor causing it to malfunction. This means your clothes could over-dry and your electric bill could increase for no reason.
Not only are these unregulated sheets made with unknown chemicals, but no one’s done much research into how these chemicals are affecting people or the environment. There aren’t any relevant clinical trials to review and there is no data to compare. The scientific community has just accepted dryer sheets as they are.
It could be because researching dryer sheets isn’t high on the list of research priorities. It’s true that there are plenty of other topics that need to be researched more – cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, GMO foods – but someone needs to shine a light on this unregulated industry. Dryer sheets could be doing serious harm and we wouldn’t know it until thousands or even millions have died.
There is a solution to this problem, but it involves you–the consumer. You could choose substitutes for dryer sheets. There are plenty of safe, natural substitutes that will give you the same or better results than those chemical-laced sheets. Keep reading to learn about some of them.
What You Can Use Instead
Here are several products to try instead of commercial products.
Wool Dryer Balls
Wool dryer balls are an excellent alternative. It’s an all-natural fabric (more about that below). They do everything that dryer sheets do, but they do it better. Plus, they’re long-lasting and inexpensive.
Wool dryer balls help your dryer dry your clothes up to 20% faster. Your energy costs will begin to decrease with the use of them. Unlike sheets, you’ll have to add several wool balls to the dryer, but you also get a lot more of them in the box.
Vinegar seems to always be a solution to everything. It just happens to be a great solution to finding a substitute for dryer sheets. White vinegar is best because it won’t leave any type of color stain on the clothes.
Vinegar will soften the fabric very well. You’ll also have the added benefit of it disinfecting your dryer. If you’re worried about your clothes having a vinegar smell after drying, you can tuck that worry away. Just air them out for a while and the vinegar scent will disappear.
Note: don’t go crazy with the white vinegar. A quarter of a cup will do the job. Simply soak a washcloth with it and toss it in with the rest of the laundry.
Baking soda works like vinegar, but it’s better if you put it in the washing machine instead of the dryer. It has so many benefits for both your clothes and the washing machine. Not only will it soften your fabrics, but it will knock out odors, brighten colors, and clean the washing machine.
Note: if you decide to combine methods, do not combine vinegar and baking soda! You will have a volcanic-like eruption flowing out of your washing machine.
Aluminum foil will get static electricity out of your clothes better than anything else you could use. It also helps to dry the clothes faster. Simple make some aluminum foil balls and toss them in with the laundry. Make sure you save them – they are reusable.
You could cut out the need for dryer sheets, dryer balls, or dryer anything by wearing natural fabrics. These types of fabrics don’t collect static electricity, so you’ll have no need for a dryer aid. They’re also great for people who may have allergies since they don’t irritate the skin. Examples are cotton, bamboo, silk, and wool.
Reusable Dryer Sheets
While these are still dryer sheets, they are made from natural fabrics and contain no chemicals or synthetic fragrances. That means you these products aren’t harmful to the environment, they aren’t a fire hazard, and they’re safe for people with sensitive skin. Plus, you’ll cut back on waste since you won’t be constantly throwing them away. It’s a win-win situation.
There are worse things in the world than chemical dryer sheets, but that still doesn’t mean you should keep buying them. Every little thing you can do to keep yourself and your family healthy, plus help the environment, is important. Getting rid of chemical dryer sheets is a simple way to do your part.
It’s easy to make the change because the alternatives that were presented are easy to implement. In fact, you probably have some of the supplies in your home already so what do you have to lose by giving them a try? You’ll likely be pleasantly surprised at the results of ditching those chemical-laced sheets.