The greenest way to dry your laundry is with air–on drying racks or clotheslines. It’s also the cheapest way to dry your laundry. But some folks, because of climate or allergies, simply MUST use a clothes dryer.
Enviro Girl appreciates people using clothes dryers, but she despises the strong chemical smell from fabric softeners and dryer sheets. These odors are SO powerful that they remain on fabric after several washings. Case in point: last weekend one of her son’s friends joined her family at a football game and borrowed a sweatshirt. After returning it, Enviro Girl washed it and line dried it and could STILL smell the child’s fabric softener “fresh scent” that had rubbed off on the sweatshirt for the few hours he wore it. Another case in point: Enviro Girl’s sons received t-shirts from their Grandma this summer–lovingly washed and dried with dryer sheets before presented to the boys. It took FOUR washings and line dryings to finally eliminate the perfumey odor of Grandma’s dryer sheets.
The harsh chemical smell of dryer sheets sticks out stronger than the smell of wet dog or cigarette smoke and it lingers even longer. It’s known that the more our noses are exposed to a smell, the less we sense it. Because Enviro Girl uses unscented detergent to wash her family’s laundry and fresh air to dry it, ANY scent pervades her senses. She bets the fans of stinky strong-smelling dryer sheets don’t detect any aroma coming from her family. She imagines their plain smells might even confuse and confound the most chemically-addicted dryer-sheet inhaling, Glade Plug-in-breathing folks out there.
Perhaps these obnoxious faux nature smells soothe some people. But dryer sheets and fabric softeners are NOT NECESSARY when drying laundry. A few of the ingredients listed in them include formaldehyde, benzyl acetate, limonene and choloroform. These substances are toxic and recognized carcinogens. Don’t believe me? Read this report. Dryer sheets are full of nasty chemicals–not exactly the sort of thing Enviro Girl wants to inhale OR put next to her skin!
Dryer sheets and fabric softeners claim to reduce static cling and make fabrics feel softer. Most natural fibers don’t create static electricity when tumbling on low heat–and if they do, a half cup of white vinegar in the wash cycle will fully eliminate any static cling. Enviro Girl only notices static cling with synthetic fibers and that’s never been anything a little spritz of water or a quick rub with lightly lotioned hands couldn’t resolve. As for softening clothes, fabric softeners actually coat fabrics with a chemical lubricant–that same lubricant coats the inside of a dryer and dryer vents, increasing the build-up of lint and the risk of a dryer fire. The same coating reduces the absorbance of fabrics–Enviro Girl can always tell when she’s using towels washed with fabric softener. They don’t soak up ANY moisture! It’s like drying oneself off with plastic wrap! Her own line-dried towels suck up water like sponges while giving her body the exfoliating benefits of being as rough as loofah.
So, chemical coating on fabric? Bad idea. Static cling? Not really a problem. Really more of an invented problem used to market a “solution” in the same way the Summer’s Eve folks try to sell women feminine spray.
Enviro Girl highly recommends wool dryer balls. They’re cheaper than dryer sheets (wool dryer balls cost $7.00 apiece, last for years; dryer sheets cost .10 each, last for a couple of loads before getting tossed to the landfill). They’re organic and natural. They increase your dryer’s efficiency by banging around and getting the air circulation moving better in your dryer and reduce drying time. They eliminate static cling. They’re odor free and environmentally friendlier than a big blue bottle of chemical fragrance. You can buy wool dryer balls here at Etsy OR if you are clever and crafty, you can learn how to make them here!
Save money, save your health, save the planet. Toss the fabric softener and dryer sheets and pick up a few wool dryer balls and start breathing easier!