Have you ever walked through your neighborhood and smelled dryer sheets/fabric softener into the air from the dryer vents The smell is almost intoxicating at times – the most you try to avoid using those items at home, the harder it is to smell those scents on a long term basis.
Those fumes, although pretty common, can lead to a host of problems – respiratory distress, nervous system disorders, hormone imbalance, mood swings, headaches, and even skin issues like eczema and more.
Those reactions are from the toxic chemicals on those products – including formaldehyde, benzyl acetate, camphor, phthalates, triclosan and more.
Fabric Softeners work by coating the fabric with a layer of chemicals — over time, those chemicals can reduce the absorbency of the fabric (which is ironic considering you want your towels to be absorbent – right?)
Believe it or not, you don’t have to use fabric softener to dry your clothes and eliminate static – there are several other things you can do to reduce the chemicals you are introducing to your body. All it takes is a willingness to try new items and some discipline to stay the course:
Use Vinegar in the Rinse Cycle. Just 1/2 C. vinegar will help soften your clothing. You can add to the wash cycle in the softener compartment before the machine starts; or you can use a Downy Softener Ball and add the vinegar directly to the ball and toss in at the beginning.
Use an eco-friendly fabric softener. It’s much cheaper to use vinegar, but if you just can’t bring yourself to use vinegar, then there are some softeners on the market that you could use that would be better than the commercial chemical-laden options.
Use Wool Dryer balls. Toss a few (up to 6) in your load, and scent with a few drops of essential oil. (You can find these on Amazon HERE)
Make your own dryer sheets. Add a drop or two of essential oils to a damp rag and throw in your dryer to distribute the scent.
Use aluminum foil. For static, wad up a large piece of aluminum foil and throw in the dryer with your clothes. Aluminum foil doesn’t do much in the way of softening clothes but it will eliminate static.
One of the cheapest routes is by using just 1/2 C. vinegar it’s even less than softener!If you are leery of using vinegar, just remember that your clothes will not come out smelling like vinegar – it works well at softening without the harmful chemicals.
How do you Use Vinegar as a Softener
Using vinegar is relatively easy – just add 1/2 C. to your washing machine when you start a load. You will want to add it to the same compartment you would have added your fabric softener. Or, pick up a Downy Softener Ball and add to your cycle before it starts.
The vinegar is released during the rinse cycle and will remove the soapy residue from your clothing, while also giving your clothes a clean, fresh smell. Don’t worry though – your clothes won’t smell like vinegar.
Vinegar works amazing at removing residue from clothes, but it’s not too good about static – so to combat the static during the dryer time, throw in 1 or 2 aluminum dryer balls – the aluminum dryer balls will act as a semi-conductor for the static.
You can reuse those aluminum balls many times over (for several months in fact).
Do you use any alternatives to softener, and if you do, what do you find works best for your family?