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My long affair with dryer sheets and why I have to fire them.

Updated on March 15, 2013

I have a confession to make, I have been having an affair with dryer sheets for years. When I was researching my hub about drying clothes outside it was then that I truly realized the depths of my obsession and the toxic aspect of this long standing relationship. In other words when this box of Kirkland dryer sheets are gone the affair is over.

Like I said in my hub as a child and as an adult I have always hung the majority of our clothes outside during nice weather. However, being the mother of two kids who play sports and get really dirty I use my dryer during the winter. With dryer sheets.

What I didn't realize that in addition to the cost of my habit I was really harming the environment and possibly hurting my family. In each one of those heavenly scented beauties you can find the some of the following chemicals, if not all of them and more:

Benzol Alcohol- an upper respiratory irritant

Ethanol- this is on the EPA's Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous disorders.

Ethyl Acetate- this is on the EPA's Hazardous Waste list as a Narcotic

Chloroform-is a Neurotoxic, anesthetic and is carcinogenic.

Yuck! I also found out these lovely dryer sheets are for the most part petroleum based and aren't biodegradable and hang out in the landfills for years and years. One would think that the landfills would smell sunshine fresh with as many as I have used and thrown away through the years.

Upon this discovery, I decided to go on a quest to find cheaper and better alternatives to Bounce and Kirkland brand dryer sheets and was pleasantly surprised at the options.

If softness is an issue using 1/2 cup of vinegar in your rinse cycle will work. Baking soda in your wash helps too. It also will boost the effectiveness of your laundry detergent so you have to use less.

If you are worried about static cling you can ball up a piece of aluminum foil and throw it in your dryer. This supposedly will get rid of static cling. Another tip that is supposed to help reduce static cling is to dry your synthetic items separately. Also by line drying your clothes you will also eliminate static cling.

For fluffiness a lot of places recommend the dryer balls. The idea behind these is that as they bounce around the little nubs on them will fluff the clothes. I don't really care about the fluffiness so much and I personally think the sound of them clanking about in my dryer would drive me insane.

Now out of this whole list, my issue is the scent. I, begrudgingly admit, that if I can't hang my clothes out I need them to smell. In a good way that is. I found several options that I really can't wait to try out the next time I use my dryer.

Several places recommended the use of essential oils for adding scent to your clothes. If you use this method take an old cloth or rag and put a few drops of oil on the rag and toss in the dryer. The websites that recommends this option does advise you to only use a few drops as the heat from the dryer will diffuse the scent more. In this case less is more.

Another, really cool option is to use herbs or scented geraniums. This option serves several purposes. First of all, you will be adding to your plant collection and most herbs can be grown inside all year long. Secondly, the herbs that you use for your laundry a large portion of them you can use for cooking. As well a lot of herbs provide many natural ways of controlling pest such as fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and rodents.

Lavender and mint for centuries have been used for healing tonics, rodent control, and flea and tick repellent. Not to mention the scent. Scented geraniums, in spite of the name is really and herb, comes in a whole variety of scents such as rose, chocolate, apple, peppermint and the list goes on. Since I have always been interested in herb lore, I am going to start pots of lemon verbena, mint, lavender and get a rose and apple scented geranium to use in my dryer. In order to use the herbs in the dryer you must pick the leaves (in the case of the geraniums), or blooms. Crush them and put them in a small sachet bag toss them in the dryer and let them go.

But the best benefit of using the alternatives is that we will lowering our carbon footprint. Making our homes healthier and more beautiful with the use of plants. So, as soon as I can start my plants and get them going I will be firing my dryer sheets.

Lindy

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    • ChezFun profile image

      ChezFun 6 years ago

      One thing that people don't realize is that there are millions of people out there who have a TERRIBLE reaction to dryer sheets and any other product that has the same or similar poisons in them. I will call them poisons because that's what they are! We cannot be around any of these petroleum based toxins or highly scented products. I cannot go shopping, to church, to the movies or out to dinner, I cannot visit other's homes, and I cannot even go to work which is my own company!! All products that have these chemicals in them are pure poison, the plug-in product, lotions, perfume, candles, etc, all killers! Young mothers need to research the products they are using around their growing families. The CDC has banned these poisonous products from their own buildings to keep themselves safe, but we the public are not warned!

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 6 years ago

      If I used dryer sheets they would be unscented, I don't like my clean clothes smelling artificial, to me clean doesn't have a smell. Bad smells have odors but clean clothes shouldn't smell like anything. I didn't know all the cruel chemicals in dryer sheets though. Thanks for sharing. Great hub.

    • MarloByDesign profile image

      MarloByDesign 6 years ago from United States

      Lindy's World, okay, thank you. I will use up my unscented sheets, I will need to reread your Hub to know what natural products to use.

    • Lindy's World profile image
      Author

      Lindy's World 6 years ago

      Marlo,

      I am soooooo sorry. I have had the research here and just got behind. Please accept my apologies. The fact is that unscented ones are a better choice. As they use less chemicals. But, there is still the problem of them laying around the land fill forever. I have found that since I have stopped using them and commercial laundry detergents and use more natural ingredients the nicer my clothes feel and smell fresher. In fact, I can always smell the kids clothes when they come into my class room and it can be overpowering.

    • MarloByDesign profile image

      MarloByDesign 7 years ago from United States

      I agree with the pink umbrella, I will *try* to not use dryer sheets for a bit, but about the unscented ones, are they okay?

    • Lindy's World profile image
      Author

      Lindy's World 8 years ago

      Sorry Pink! I used to love my dryer sheets but much like kicking a bad habit I don't really miss them. If you are (like I used to be) addicted to the smell try using some nice dried herbs like Lavender.

      Lindy

    • the pink umbrella profile image

      the pink umbrella 8 years ago from the darkened forest deep within me.

      but i love my dryer sheets! ugh what r you doin to me lyndy!

    • Lindy's World profile image
      Author

      Lindy's World 8 years ago

      mkott, thank you for your comment and great tip. I am going to soak my screen. That is the last thing I need is for my dryer to blow with winter coming and my clothes line outside goes on vacation. Lindy

    • Lindy's World profile image
      Author

      Lindy's World 8 years ago

      vanderhaven thank you for your comment. It is amazing how many things that we as a society use because of slick marketing that are really bad for us and our environment.

      lindy

    • mkott profile image

      Michele 8 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      Another thing about dryer sheets. Because of their ingredients it puts a coating on the screen of your lint trap. Clean your trap of lint them soak the screen in warm/hot vinegar water. I was told by a washer/dryer repairman that not cleaning it leads to early motor burnout. I never thought of this.

    • vanderhaven profile image

      vanderhaven 8 years ago

      Well, I had heard of hazards of dryer sheets before but never paid much attention to it. Your short but precise information was clear and easily understandable. I appreciate you taking the time to write the hub because it really focused my attention about the downside of dryer sheets and I am going to take a long, hard ,closer look next time I think about buying them. :)

    • profile image

      Nancy's Niche 9 years ago

      Very good article Ms Lindy...Your facts and suggestions show you spent time and thought on the importance of the research. Thanks for all the eco information!

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