Dryer sheets are really a toxic ripoff. That means you’re paying more for a product that could actually be making you sick.
Dryer Sheets: The Facts:
What you won’t see? A comprehensive list of the chemical cocktail cooked into those sheets. As crazy as it seems, the current United States Consumer Product Safety Commission does not require dryer sheet manufacturers to list actual ingredients, including the chemicals used in fragrance blends.
- Benzyl acetate - linked to pancreatic cancer.
- Benzyl alcohol - linked to upper respiratory tract irritation.
- Ethanol - linked to central nervous system disorders.
- Limonene - a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance)
- Chloroform - a neurotoxin and carcinogen.
What was coming out of those vents? (And into people’s lungs?) Seven hazardous air pollutants and 25 volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some of these, including acetaldehyde and benzene, are not safe at any level. (These are also pollutants that commonly spew out of vehicle tailpipes.)
Acetaldehyde is a common ingredient used in fake fragrance blends. It’s “potentially carcinogenic to humans” and adversely impacts the kidneys, nervous and respiratory systems. While it’s regulated in outdoor emissions, it’s a total free-for-all when it comes to home use. And that’s coming with some serious side effects.
In one mice study, fabric softening products triggered limited airflow and pulmonary irritation in the animals studied.
Better Alternatives to Store-Bought Dryer Sheets
The good news is you can survive without dryer sheets. (It’s true!) In facts, humans existed and successfully washed their clothing for hundreds of years without this modern-day scented laundry products. In fact, a dryer sheet patent didn’t even exist until 1969. The creator, Conrad J. Gaiser, went on to sell the patent to Procter & Gamble, which created Bounce dryer sheets.
- Add a quarter cup of white vinegar to your washer’s rinse cycle.
- Look for plant-based, unscented laundry detergents.
- Hang your clothing outside to dry.
Final Thoughts on Dryer Sheets.
Dryer sheets are among the worst offenders for harboring chemicals linked to hormone disruption and asthma. More than 12 percent of the U.S. population reported negative health symptoms associated with dryer vent emissions. Many dryer sheets contain chemicals that react with the air to create formaldehyde, a probable human carcinogen. Other common dryer sheet pollutants include acetaldehyde and benzene, things also found in vehicle exhaust that are not considered safe at any level. To reduce your exposure to dryer sheet chemicals, you can reduce static cling naturally by adding a quarter cup of white vinegar to your washer’s rinse cycle. You can also use wool dryer balls or hang dry your clothing.