When it comes to fuzzy winter clothes, towels and sheets—the softer they are, the better it gets. People throw in gallons of liquid fabric softeners and hundreds of fabric softening dryer sheets into their washing machines and dryers to get rid of the crisp feeling in their clothes. However, this washing routine isn’t healthy for you, your clothes, or the environment.
Here are some reasons why fabric softeners shouldn’t be a part of your laundry routine.
Why Fabric Softener Sheets for Drying Isn’t a Good Idea
Dryer sheets or fabric softening sheets are made of a specific type of fiber that is coated with a layer of fatty acids, perfume, and loaded with several other chemicals. When you turn on the dryer’s heat, the fatty acids melt on your clothes, making them soft.
But this thin layer doesn’t just coat your clothes; it also sticks to the sides and filters of your dryer. Over time, sediment from the dryer sheets accumulates on the fluff filter, causing it to clog. Because there isn’t any vent space left for the filter to pull the fluff out from the dryer, you will notice your clothes are covered in fluff every time you put them into the dryer.
The coating of fatty acids may also make your socks, towels and rags less absorbent and reduce their effectiveness. Moreover, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) advice against the usage of dryer sheets while drying children’s clothes, as it can reduce their fire resistance. Acetone, a chemical used to coat the dryer sheets, may lead to lightheadedness, nausea, and dizziness.
Fabric Softeners for Washing are Equally Harmful
Liquid fabric softeners are better than dryer sheets, but they are still harmful. They have higher levels of harmful chemicals and fragrances that may lead to several skin issues, including minor rash and itching to more severe dermatitis and eczema.
Fabric softeners are heavily scented and may emit VOCs including Butane and acetaldehyde. These volatile organic compounds may cause respiratory disorders—especially if someone struggles with asthma and allergies. Quaternary ammonium compounds—chemicals commonly found in fabric softeners—have also been found to aggravate symptoms of asthma.
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