Lack of Transparency Can Lead to Toxic Exposure

Posted by Mikaela Molnar on

We are exposed to a variety of toxins daily that have a detrimental impact on our health. Many of these chemicals we are exposed to come from our laundry room.

You can click here to read about the hazards found in laundry detergents, or click here to read a synopsis of the toxicity in conventional laundry routines and how to avoid it. In this article, we are going to focus on dryer sheets, and the perilous chemicals fabric softeners and dryer sheets are enriched with. Some chemicals found in these laundry products pose a significant threat to our health, fortunately there are natural alternatives to get the same exact benefits without toxic compounds.

Back to the beginning

Fabric softener was created to reduce the static on our clothes created during the drying process. While clothes rub back and forth against each other, they release electrons which cause the static electricity. Once fabric softener was invented, it became the ideal solution to reducing that static, but with an inconvenience cost. The fabric softener had to be added after the rinse cycle since its chemicals were not compatible with detergents, so it required an additional trip to the laundry room. Subsequently, the more convenient solution was created, the dryer sheet. A creative product invented simply by adding liquid to a piece of cotton fabric, that can be added to the dryer load to warm up and disperse the fabric softener without interrupting the wash cycle. The dryer sheet worked to reduce the static by neutralizing the electrons with positively charged ions in the dryer.

It all makes sense on the outside but what neglects to be publicized is the ingredients within these dryer sheets that make it work.

A lack of transparency

Consumer Product Safety Commission does not require most companies to disclose all or any of the ingredients which is a huge concern. Most dryer sheets and fabric softeners do not list any ingredients on the packaging, but some do list them on their websites. Fortunately, we have some great resources we can rely on for this information. Environmental Working Group (EWG) specializes in research and advocating in the areas of agricultural subsidies, toxic chemicals, drinking water pollutants, and corporate accountability. EWG has identified these top common ingredients found in dryer sheets and fabric softeners potentially posing a threat to our health.

One of the most common toxic ingredients found in many household products. The problem with fragrance is that it is a cocktail of distinct chemicals. One scent can range from 50 to 300 different artificial ingredients. In fact, there are over 3,000 ingredients hidden behind the term “fragrance”, and some have known links to cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies and sensitivities.
This chemical has evidence of reproductive affects and is linked to high acute toxicity to aquatic life. Another main concern with this ingredient is that it derived from the Palm Oil plant. It might sound great since it is plant-derived, however Palm Oil production and extraction has a drastic negative impact on the environment when not sourced sustainably. The extraction of palm oil has led to massive deforestation, habitat degradation and loss of animal habitat (most broadcasted is the Orangutan habitat loss). This is a serious environmental matter, which in this case, can be easily concealed with the 400 additional names for irresponsibly sourced palm oil ingredients. If you are interested in seeing a list of palm oil derivatives, click here. But be sure to look out for sustainable certifications since not all palm oil is unsustainable!
Benzyl Acetate
A colorless fragrant found in many fabric softeners which has been linked to pancreatic cancer, according to a study conducted by the University of Berkeley. Its vapors irritate the eyes and respiratory passages, adding to poor indoor air quality. 
Another colorless liquid with a strong citrus smell. It is used in fabric softeners, shaving creams, bar soaps, disinfectant sprays and colognes. Limonene has proven to cause irritation of the eyes, skin, throat and nose. Laboratory studies on rats even concluded that this fragrance ingredient is a suspected carcinogen, giving rise to bladder and renal tumors. 
Ethanol and Ethyl Acetate
These two chemicals are used as a solvent and aromatic agent. They are listed on the Environmental Protection Agency's “hazardous waste”.

Ingredients aren't the only concern

We aren't only putting our health at risk with these controversial ingredients, we are doing a lot of damage to our surroundings as well. 

A 2011 study from the University of Washington found twenty-four VOCs emitted from dryer vents that use dryer sheets. Of those VOCs, seven were classified as hazardous air pollutants by the Environmental Protection Agency. The study concluded, “two of these identified compounds (acetaldehyde and benzene) are classified as carcinogenic with no safe exposure level”. Poor indoor air quality is the cause for many adverse health affects, and this could be from those toxic laundry products.

So what's the safe alternative?


Wool Dryer balls are the safe, natural and cost-effective alternative to dryer sheets. They work to reduce the static, soften your clothes and eliminate wrinkles in the dryer load. With 3 or 4 bouncing around in the dryer, they break up the wet laundry and reduce the drying time, which in turn saves about 25-40% of energy.

Unlike the plastic dryer balls, the wool ones are made with natural and organic material instead of synthetic materials. Wool will naturally biodegrade or compost after its (many years) of use. Plastic will sit in the landfill and break down into microplastics adding to the pollution problem.

But what about the scent?


We have a safe alternative for that too. Our handmade laundry spray is a mild aromatic addition to scent your clothes naturally. With just three ingredients, you can add a subtle scent to your clothes that's not over powerful, and you'll have your conscious at ease knowing your health is safe and free from toxins.

Wool dryer balls are a great way to reduce your carbon footprint in the laundry room. Click here to shop our organic wool dryer balls and use code WOOL20 at checkout to get four balls for $20.

You can also shop here for the all-natural Laundry set for the bundle and save option!

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