Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What is in My Fabric Softener??

(Disclaimer: I am not an expert on any topic other than my children, and most days that questionable. These green living/healthy living posts are based on my own research because of my own concern about the health of my family. I’m passing it on to you, the people I love, just as an FYI. I’m in no way trying to be an alarmist or convert you to my way of thinking)

A few months ago I did some research on the safety of fabric softeners and dryer sheets. Lots of people use them to make their clothes smell nice and feel soft. I always used name brand dryer sheets on our towels, but had recently started wondering what in the heck is in them, especially after one ‘incident’ with them.
I’d put a towel in the bathtub to lay Beck on while giving him a bath to keep him from slipping all over the tub. As water was filling the tub, I noticed the water was getting cloudy and I could smell the dryer sheet scent. Um, GROSS. I knew fabric softeners left chemicals in clothes, but I seriously had no idea that they left that much.
Which led me to start my investigation. And here’s what I found...
This is a list of commonly used chemicals in fabric softeners and dryer sheets that can pose health risks:
  • Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant
  • Ethanol: On the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders
  • Limonene: Known carcinogen
  • A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage
  • Ethyl Acetate: A narcotic on the EPA's Hazardous Waste list
  • Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders
  • Chloroform: Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic
  • Linalool: A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders
  • Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled
  • Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer

Yuck and kinda scary if you ask me.  I mean these chemicals are really needed to make our clothes smell good? No thanks.
Here’s more information, and this is stuff I already knew:
Fabric softeners and dryer sheets coat your clothes and towels with a wax that no amount of washing will get out. I’ve noticed one name brand in particular where you can really feel the wax on your clothes. It’s always grossed me out. Once these chemicals are on your clothes, you absorb them through your skin and inhale the chemicals throughout the day.
There are alternatives to reducing the level of toxins you ingest…
  • Stop using these types of fabric softeners and dryer sheets; especially the ones that DON’T tell you what’s in them.
  • If you’re so inclined, hang your clothes outside to dry. (I know some of my family members are totally rolling their eyes right now!)
  • If you really need a fabric softener, use an all natural one (I know of a great one!) or use a non-toxic dryer ball that can last up to 2 years of use!