Quantcast

Are Dryer Sheets and Liquid Softeners Safe for the Environment?

Health + Wellness
iStock

By Bob Schildgen

Hey Mr. Green,

Do you recommend any dryer sheets or liquid fabric softeners for clothes?

— David in Brentwood, New Hampshire


Having never used such products myself, I turned to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which is a great source for information. The EWG's highest recommendations for dryer sheets are Grab Green Wet Dryer Sheets, Unscented; Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day (in various scents); and Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Dryer Sheets, Unscented. Grab Green got a B, while the other two only earned a C grade. All the 40-some others got a D—or worse, an F.

As for fabric softeners, EWG recommends Attitude Green Shield (in various scents, and Green Shield Lavender Mint). They both got an A grade, while 51 of the total of 180 kinds rated earned a whopping F. See here for more details.

EWG recommends that you skip fabric softeners altogether, because they may contain "quats," that is, "quaternary ammonium compounds known to trigger asthma and may be toxic to our reproductive systems," and other compounds such as "distearyldimonium chloride, diethyl ester dimethyl ammonium chloride, variants of hydroxyethyl methyl ammonium methyl sulfate" or stuff with vague names like "biodegradable fabric softening agents" and "cationic surfactant"—not to mention some 3,000 other chemicals.

If you still feel a desperate need for a softener, just go online and search for fabric softener + alternatives. You will easily find at least a half-dozen alternatives that are safer than the chemical choices.

Reposted with permission from our media associate SIERRA Magazine.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Asian elephants frolic in Kaudulla Wewa at Kaudulla National Park in central Sri Lanka. David Stanley / CC BY 2.0

When it comes to saving some of the planet's largest animals, a group of researchers says that old methods of conservation just won't cut it anymore.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

A low-fat diet that prioritizes eating healthier foods like fruits and vegetables each day could lower the risk a woman's risk of dying from breast cancer, according to a multi-decade study published this month.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
smcgee / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Several New York City Starbucks exposed customers to a potentially deadly pesticide, two lawsuits filed Tuesday allege.

Read More Show Less
Drinks with plastic straws on sale at London's Borough Market. Susie Adams / Getty Images

The UK government has set a date for a ban on the sale of single use plastics, The Guardian reported Wednesday. From April 2020, the sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds with plastic stems will be prohibited in England.

Read More Show Less
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) speaks during the North American Building Trades Unions Conference at the Washington Hilton April 10, 2019 in Washington, DC. Zach Gibson / Getty Images

Colorado senator and 2020 hopeful Michael Bennet introduced his plan to combat climate change Monday, in the first major policy rollout of his campaign. Bennet's plan calls for the establishment of a "Climate Bank," using $1 trillion in federal spending to "catalyze" $10 trillion in private spending for the U.S. to transition entirely to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Foto-Rabe / Pixabay

When Trump's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan in August 2018, its own estimates said the reduced regulations could lead to 1,400 early deaths a year from air pollution by 2030.

Now, the EPA wants to change the way it calculates the risks posed by particulate matter pollution, using a model that would lower the death toll from the new plan, The New York Times reported Monday. Five current or former EPA officials familiar with the plan told The Times that the new method would assume there is no significant health gain by lowering air pollution levels below the legal limit. However, many public health experts say that there is no safe level of particulate matter exposure, which has long been linked to heart and lung disease.

Read More Show Less
A crate carrying one of the 33 lions rescued from circuses in Peru and Columbia is lifted onto the back of a lorry before being transported to a private reserve on April 30, 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Animal welfare advocates are praising soon-to-be introduced legislation in the U.S. that would ban the use of wild animals in traveling circuses.

Read More Show Less
A tornado Monday in Union City, Oklahoma. TicToc by Bloomberg / YouTube screenshot

Extreme weather spawned 18 tornadoes across five states Monday, USA Today reported. Tornadoes were reported in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arizona, but were not as dangerous as forecasters had initially feared, the Associated Press reported.

Read More Show Less