Fresh-smelling laundry is amazing.
But those chemical-laden dryer sheets you've been using? Not so awesome. You're going to want to lose your lunch when you read this, but conventional dryer sheets are usually coated in beef fat.
Yep, those little sheets contain a dose of tallow (stearic acid derived from animal fat), aka the little secret ingredient manufacturers are determined to keep you from knowing about.
Beef fat is what they use to keep your clothes soft, but you won't find it on any ingredients list on a box of dryer sheets. That's because the conventional cleaning products industry has fought vigorously to keep their formulas government-protected trade secrets, covered by intellectual property laws that let them hide whatever they want. So unless you want your body coated in lard from the residue on your clothes, sheets and towels, just say no to dryer sheets.
Related: What Should I Buy? Bleach Alternatives
Do You Smell That?
To mask the smell of the lard and chemicals used to soften clothes, manufacturers smother them with synthetic fragrances, which have their own problems. Not just headache-inducing, they're also incredibly toxic and contain chemicals such as chloroform, toluene, phenol, xylene, styrene, trimethylbenzene and benzyl acetate.
Hung Out to Dry
These chemicals are absorbed through both inhalation and absorption through the skin. Exposure to them can cause headaches, skin and eye infections, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, hormone disruption, central nervous system disorders, fatigue, anxiety, respiratory tract irritation, difficulty concentrating, liver damage, asthma and other lung disorders. Oh yeah, and cancer - many of the chemicals are carcinogenic.
Those are some strong chemicals. If you've ever washed and dried something several times without using dryer sheets and still smelled their odor (or put clothes away for a season and unpacked them months later to find the same smell), you know what we're talking about. You can also smell the offensive aromas streaming out of your neighbors' vents, or wafting off of strangers as you pass by them. The synthetic fragrances are actually designed to permeate clothing and then release slowly throughout the day-prolonging your exposure to the toxins. This residue can also become gummy on your clothes and make colors dull.
Conventional dryer sheets aren't even recyclable or compostable, and they're usually not made of renewable materials. The most earth-friendly option is to simply skip using a dryer sheet (trust us, you really don't need one) or to use a reusable dryer ball. You can also make your own using a scrap of cloth and some essential oils. Or, pick a natural version. They're usually made of renewable materials and fragranced with essentials oils. Some are even biodegradable.
Want to know the deets on what other eco-friendly things to buy? Click here to browse through our "What Do I Buy" category on the website!
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