Businesses thrive on that same message – encouraging consumers to buy the next perfume, hair oil, deodorant, laundry detergent, etc. who smells the best. But at what cost ? Some bloggers and household experts have argued that the negatives outweigh the positives when it comes to fabric softeners and dryer sheets.
What are fabric softeners and how do they work?
Fabric softeners are a household product that is added to laundry loads to help reduce wrinkles, prevent static and make your clothes softer. They come in liquid, powder, or dryer sheet form and often leave your clothes smelling fresh and clean after washing.
Research has shown that fabric softeners and dryer sheets work because they contain a coating of chemical compounds, often quaternary ammonium salt or oil-based silicone. The coating contains electrical charges which, combined with the heat of the dryer, cause the threads of the clothes to soften and the wrinkles to fade. It also equalizes clothing ions, reducing static electricity. Fabric softeners often contain fragrances and chemicals like phthalates or synthetic musks like galaxolide that make your clothes feel nicer, but with serious downsides.
Fabric softener faults
There are several reasons why fabric softeners are the ultimate household rip-off. This seemingly harmless product can in fact cause considerable damage to your clothes, your machines, your health and the environment.
Fabric softeners and dryer sheets contain chemicals that soften threads in clothes and make wrinkles disappear.
Studies have shown that after repeated exposure to the chemical coating of fabric softeners, the fibers of clothing become tangled. In fact, laundry blogs suggest avoiding using fabric softeners on sportswear, moisture-wicking clothes, or towels because the wax in the product leaves a film on laundry and makes it less resistant to the water. The irony is that when clothes are less water resistant, they retain moisture more easily and become susceptible to foul odors. This makes fabric softener and dryer sheets the ultimate rip-off – while one of their main purposes is to freshen up your laundry load, this bogus product instead makes your clothes feel worse over time.
Other than that, the oil-based quality of most fabric softeners proves problematic for many reasons. First, if your machine is too full and the clothes don’t have room to move freely, the oil-based coating can build up on the laundry, which can both cause new stains and trap those. that already exist. It has also been shown to make certain fabrics, such as baby clothes, more flammable. For safety reasons, baby clothes should be treated with flame retardant chemicals. However, when the wax coating of fabric softeners coats your laundry, it can significantly reduce its flame resistance, making it more difficult for it to self-extinguish. Studies have shown that cotton, nylon, and polyester fabrics are most susceptible to this problem. If you frequently use fabric softeners, don’t worry, all hope is not lost. It’s possible that washing your clothes with detergent alone can restore flame resistance and repair damage caused by fabric softeners.
Similar to how the waxy oil-based coating of fabric softeners can damage laundry, it can also have negative implications on your laundry appliances. The buildup of chemicals these products leave behind can impair your machine’s ability to drain properly and increase its susceptibility to clogging. It can also increase the possibility of mold forming in your machine. If you use fabric softener frequently, be sure to clean your washer and dryer more regularly, especially the motor, pumps, and lint filter.
Fabric softeners contain chemicals like benzyl acetate, benzyl alcohol, ethanol, etc., which are classified by law as carcinogenic, toxic and hazardous to health. These chemicals have been scientifically proven to cause problems such as dermatitis (rashes), asthma, or other allergy-like symptoms. As stated earlier, fabric softener leaves a chemical residue on laundry, so the health hazard doesn’t stop when you’re done removing your laundry from the machine. The chemicals linger on clothing and may have health consequences other than those listed here. Beware of this when using fabric softeners, especially if you are susceptible to upper respiratory irritation.
Fabric softeners contain chemicals classified by law as carcinogenic and toxic.
Not only are the chemicals in fabric softeners harmful to human health, they are also detrimental to the health of the environment. The products we use impact the environment we live in on a large and small scale, from the air we breathe to the water we drink. It is important that we are aware of the types of materials we use, as they will always end up in our soil, air, or resources in one way or another. Many chemicals in fabric softeners have been proven to harm not only plant life, but animal life as well. With fabric softeners and dryer sheets being problematic on so many fronts, it’s time to look to more eco-friendly, healthier and less damaging alternatives.
Dryer balls are a common alternative to dryer sheets and fabric softeners that work just as well without all the hassle. A dryer ball can be made of wool, plastic, or rubber instead of chemicals, waxes, or oils. They dry, lint and soften laundry while reducing wrinkles and static by preventing items from sticking together. The dryer balls are eco-friendly and hypoallergenic. Unlike fabric softeners, they retain their flame resistance and leave no residue on your clothes. They are also normally unscented which is actually better for the longevity and health of your clothes/linens as many perfumes and perfumes can cause allergic reactions.
If you want an easy and quick do-it-yourself dryer ball idea, Speed Queen suggests balling up foil, using tightly woven wool, or even tossing a few tennis balls in. your laundry load. Other alternatives for liquid fabric softener include a mixture of baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils or even a mixture of hair conditioner. These options will produce the same effect without the negative side effects that come with store-bought fabric softeners.
Fabric softeners and dryer sheets aren’t all they’re advertised to be – in fact, they turned out to be a pretty big rip off. Even though they smell great and seem to leave your clothes feeling better, it’s important to be aware of the downsides the products can also offer. No company advertises the dark and harmful side of their product, so I encourage you to do your own research on the products you use, from fabric softeners to makeup and everything in between. You will probably be surprised at what you find.
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