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Are Dryer Sheets Harmful to Your Family? What Alternatives Do You Have?

I know a lot of people who just can’t do laundry without throwing in a dryer sheet. I’ve never had that habit, and when I tried the ones we were given back when we were first married, really couldn’t see what the benefit was. But a lot of people do love them, and use them without considering the potential harm the simple dryer sheet may do to their family.

A big part of this is air quality issues. There’s an article on the National Institutes of Health website that gets into the risks of using scented products indoors, and dryer sheets are one of the topics covered. They give off a variety of VOCs, and there have been cases of children having a seizure after being exposed to dryer sheets. It’s not going to happen to every child, of course, but that’s still pretty serious.

Simply put, there are better ways to help your laundry smell fresh, ways that don’t involve the waste and harsh chemicals of dryer sheets, even the unscented ones.

Line Dry Your Laundry

Hanging your laundry out to dry is one of the best ways to handle the issue. You get that fresh air scent naturally, rather than the imitation some dryer sheets try to give. Not only does line drying mean you don’t need dryer sheets, it saves all the energy using your dryer would have taken.

You can still take down slightly damp laundry and give a few minutes in the dryer for those things that tend to come out crunchy when line dried, such as towels and jeans. The crunchiness may not last long once you start using them, so you may choose to skip even that much use of the dryer if you can stand it initially.

Vinegar in the Wash

You can add a half cup of white vinegar to your wash during the last rinse cycle as a natural softener. This can even help your laundry come out softer when you line dry it. Vinegar in the last rinse cycle helps to remove the last of the detergent from your laundry.

Essential Oils

If you truly love the scent given to your laundry by dryer sheets, why not make your own? Pick a favorite essential oil, place a couple drops of it onto a damp washcloth and include in the dryer with the rest of the load. It will scent your laundry nicely.

Aluminum Foil Ball

Another tip for those who use their dryer for their laundry is to add in a ball of aluminum foil. Roll some into a tight, 2-3 inch diameter ball and throw it in the dryer with every load. It will take care of any problems you have with static in your laundry, and should last a long time. A tennis ball may help as well, but they may contain toxic chemicals.

If you prefer the dryer balls you’ve seen advertised elsewhere, go for ones that are PVC free and aren’t packaged in a bunch of plastic. Just be aware that some people feel that some types create holes in their clothes over time.

Eco Friendly Dryer Sheets

If you just can’t give up the dryer sheet habit, at least go for some of the more environmentally friendly options. Mrs. Meyers is a good choice, but Method may be easier to find locally.

You can also buy reusable dryer sheets such as Static Eliminator. They should be good for hundreds of uses, which beats buying boxes of dryer sheets. On the other hand, I don’t know that they’re any better than any of the solutions you can do right at home.

As you can see, there are plenty of simple ways to quit using dryer sheets without having to deal with static cling or laundry that doesn’t smell right to you. Make this simple change and you’ve cut one source of VOCs from your home.

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