Fabric softener sales have been declining steadily over the last few years, and there are a number of factors to blame. Some say it’s because younger generations don’t know what to use it for, while others say it’s because people are finally realizing just how toxic they can be. We’re going to dive a little deeper into the latter point, investigate what makes fabric softeners toxic and also show you some solutions to this laundry problem.
Is Fabric Softener Toxic?
While there’s a debate over what really lead to the decreasing fabric softener sales, there’s no debate over whether or not fabric softener should be considered a “clean” product.
According to research done by health and wellness experts, there are several types of harmful and toxic ingredients in fabric softeners and even in dryer sheets. Some of the most harmful ingredients include:
- 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
- Fragrances and dyes - can cause skin irritation as well as allergic reactions
- Glutaraldehyde - can cause respiratory issues and skin irritations
- Hexylene Glycol - associated with eye, skin, and respiratory irritation
- Hydrochloric Acid - can cause severe burns and skin damage and is toxic when inhaled.
- Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (Di-C14-18) - a chemical that can cause serious eye damage or skin irritation.
What makes them even more toxic is that they stay in your clothes for long periods of time, which is what allows fabrics to stay soft and static-free. Softeners soak into your clothes and then into your skin, causing irritation, while dryer sheets release chemicals into the air when they heat up.
What Are the Alternatives to Fabric Softener?
To avoid their exposure to chemicals and toxins, more and more people are searching for alternatives for these softening products. No one wants to sacrifice their comfort in their clothing or their health. Some of our favorite alternative options include:
- Use vinegar to soften clothes. Vinegar is a great alternative to chemical-based fabric softeners! Vinegar will help to brighten the colors, soften the fabrics and even eliminate odors. Just make sure that you’re using distilled white vinegar to avoid any odd stains.
- Use wool dryer balls. Wool is a natural way to reduce tactic from your clothing! These dryer balls will eliminate your need for dryer sheets in the future - and they’re reusable, so you’ll be helping the planet!
- Add a water softener to your home. Water softeners remove minerals from your home’s water supply, which makes it easier for detergents to absorb into your clothing and rinse out. Without soft water, your detergent will form a thin film on the clothing, causing premature fading, stiffer fabric, and less comfort for the wearer.
Hard water is a common issue throughout the state of California, and while it’s most known for its irritating water spots and limescale buildup, it also has major effects on the state of our skin and laundry. If you’ve grown tired of dealing with the effects of your hard, unfiltered water, then it’s time to inquire about installing a water softening system for your home.
Do Dryer Sheets Cause Cancer?
As mentioned earlier, dryer sheets contain chemicals that react with the air when heated up to create formaldehyde, which is a probable human carcinogen. Other common pollutants from dryer sheets are acetaldehyde and benzene, which are also commonly found in vehicle exhaust. Dryer sheets have been linked to respiratory illnesses including asthma, and in some cases cancer.
At HPS Plumbing Services, we offer water softeners and filtration systems for your home all throughout Bakersfield and San Diego. Visit our website today or give our team of water specialists a call today to learn more about our services can how a water softening system could benefit you and your family!