You use them weekly to get your clothes soft and smelling fresh, but did you know that the dryer sheets you’re using are loaded with toxic chemicals like Benzyl Acetate, Benzyl Alcohol, Linalool, and even Chloroform, all of which can be hazardous to your health (1). There are many dangers of dryer sheets.
Not only are these chemicals toxic when coming into contact with your skin, but the chemicals also become fumes and can easily be inhaled.
The effects of these toxins can result in neurological damage, and create permanent effects on its functioning (2).
8 Reasons to Ditch Dryer Sheets
Harsh chemicals is one of the dangers of dryer sheets. The majority of dryer sheets use harsh chemical perfumes that rub off onto clothing and come in direct contact with the skin, the most absorbent organ in your body. The chemicals found in these perfumes are dangerous carcinogens, and are known to cause liver damage and even cancer in mammals (3).
Dr. Anne Steinemann, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and public affairs at the University of Washington, conducted a study on the dryer sheets to measure just how toxic they are. “This is an interesting source of pollution because emissions from dryer vents are essentially unregulated”, said Dr.Steinemann. “If they’re coming out of a smokestack or tail pipe, they’re regulated, but if they’re coming out of a dryer vent, they’re not (4)”.
The results of Dr.Steinemanns study found over 25 VOCs emitted from dryer vents, with high concentrations of acetaldehyde, acetone, and ethanol. Just one of the carcinogenic VOC’s found in dryer vents equals 3% of total acetaldehyde emissions from automobiles in the same area (5). Making toxins from dryer sheets a highly dangerous source, despite how little it’s discussed.
In the 1990’s. the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and industry-generated Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) created the following list of chemicals found in common fabric softener (6):
- Alpha-Terpineol: Has been directly associated with brain disorders as well as loss of muscle control, headaches and depression.
- Benzyl Acetate- Directly linked to the development of pancreatic cancer.
- Benzyl alcohol- Causes irritation within the upper respiratory tract, as was as central nervous system disorders, including a headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and dramatic drops in blood pressure.
- Chloroform- Can be extremely damaging to the brain and even fatal. Inhaling chloroform can result in nausea, vomiting, dizziness and even loss of consciousness.
- Ethanol- Linked to CNS disorders and frequently found in fabric softeners
- Ethyl Acetate- a hazardous waste known to cause headaches.
- Linalool- Found in studies to cause loss of muscle coordination, depression, and neurological disorders.
- Pentane- Known to directly cause nausea, fatigue, and depression.
An all natural alternative to toxic dryer sheets are wool balls, which can easily be purchased online or made at home. The wool balls remove as much lint as dryer sheets, can get rid of static cling and soften clothes. You can also add scent to clothing by adding natural essential oils to the balls before adding them to the dryer.