Quantcast

Why You Need to Ditch Dryer Sheets

Wait a minute—how do dryer sheets do that?Mmm, the fresh scent of laundry that's been dried with dryer sheets.

Unfortunately, dryer sheets can contain some harmful chemicals—including hidden fragrance chemicals that lots of people are sensitive to—that vent off into the air we breath and rub off on our clothes and then onto our skin. Yikes! And the kicker is that dryer sheets aren't even necessary to our laundry—so they're just an extra source of exposure to toxic chemicals.

Dryer sheets are relatively simple products, generally made of a polyester sheet that's been covered in a fabric softener chemical and, usually, fragrance chemicals. The amount of fragrance used in dryer sheets can be significant, representing up to 10 percent of the contents of the product. These chemicals rub off the dryer sheet and coat your clothing in a slimy layer that has the effect of making your clothes feel softer.

Recent tests of chemicals emitted from dryer sheets indicate the following chemicals are commonly emitted from popular dryer sheets. Many of these chemicals can also be found in the air emissions from dryer vents. Some of these chemicals are linked to serious health problems.

Fragrances can include tens to hundreds of different chemicals, some of which are toxic, and many of which are known allergens, like limonene and linalool. All fragrance chemicals are usually kept secret from consumers. Dryer sheets can contain volatile organic compounds like acetaldehyde and butane, which can cause respiratory irritation. Quats, a fabric softener chemical, is often part of a family of chemicals called quaternary ammonium compounds, many of which are linked to asthma. Acetone, used in dryer sheets, can cause nervous system effects like headaches or dizziness.

Not surprisingly, when asked, survey respondents frequently report adverse health effects from exposure to dryer vents. One study found nearly 11 percent of the respondents reported irritation from exposure to emissions from dryer vents vented outside. Nearly 40 percent of respondents who indicated that they were “chemically sensitive" reported irritation from dryer vent emissions.

Dryer sheets are single-use—which means that we're throwing them away after each round of laundry. Chemicals from dryer sheets can build up and clog your dryer's lint screen, making your dryer a lot less efficient. And, dryer sheets are totally unnecessary for actually making our clothes cleaner—we don't really need them, and so they're an easily-preventable source of exposure to toxic chemicals.

Women have tons of consumer power when it comes to demanding safe products. We make almost 85 percent of consumer decisions in the average home. This means that companies pay a lot of attention to what we buy—and what we don't buy. When we band together to stop buying a toxic product, we can have a huge impact on making the marketplace that much safer.

What's the alternative to toxic dryer sheets? You guessed it: wool balls. (Okay, maybe you didn't guess that). Dryer balls don't contain toxic chemicals, they last for thousands of loads, get rid of static cling and wrinkles, soften clothes, and they actually save time and energy by cutting down on drying time. Another alternative is throwing an old sweater in with your laundry to decrease drying time and reduce static.

Exercise your consumer power. Join women all over the country in taking the Ditch the Dryer Sheets pledge. This is one unnecessary, toxic product that you can feel good about not spending your money on.

Sponsored
Teenager Alex Weber and friends collected nearly 40,000 golf balls hit into the ocean from a handful of California golf courses. Alex Weber / CC BY-ND

By Matthew Savoca

Plastic pollution in the world's oceans has become a global environmental crisis. Many people have seen images that seem to capture it, such as beaches carpeted with plastic trash or a seahorse gripping a cotton swab with its tail.

As a scientist researching marine plastic pollution, I thought I had seen a lot. Then, early in 2017, I heard from Alex Weber, a junior at Carmel High School in California.

Read More Show Less
Southwest Greenland had the most consistent ice loss from 2003 to 2012. Eqalugaarsuit, Ostgronland, Greenland on Aug. 1, 2018. Rob Oo / CC BY 2.0

Greenland is melting about four times faster than it was in 2003, a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found, a discovery with frightening implications for the pace and extent of future sea level rise.

"We're going to see faster and faster sea level rise for the foreseeable future," study lead author and Ohio State University geodynamics professor Dr. Michael Bevis said in a press release. "Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?"

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Seismic tests are a precursor to offshore drilling for oil and gas. BSEE

Finally, some good news about the otherwise terrible partial government shutdown. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot issue permits to conduct seismic testing during the government impasse.

The Justice Department sought to delay—or stay—a motion filed by a range of coastal cities, businesses and conservation organizations that are suing the Trump administration over offshore oil drilling, Reuters reported. The department argued that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case due to the shutdown.

Read More Show Less
Brazil, Pantanal, water lilies. Nat Photos / DigitalVision / Getty Images Plus

Most people have heard of the Amazon, South America's famed rainforest and hub of biological diversity. Less well known, though no less critical, is the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland.

Like the Amazon, the Pantanal is ecologically important and imperiled. Located primarily in Brazil, it also stretches into neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay. Covering an area larger than England at more than 70,000 square miles, the massive wetland provides irreplaceable ecosystem services that include the regulation of floodwaters, nutrient renewal, river flow for navigability, groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration. The wetland also supports the economies of the four South American states it covers.

Read More Show Less
Demonstrators participate in a protest march over agricultural policy on Jan. 19 in Berlin, Germany. Carsten Koall / Getty Images Europe

By Andrea Germanos

Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals and rural farmers.

Read More Show Less
MarioGuti / iStock / Getty Images

By Patrick Rogers

If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

Read More Show Less
An adult bush dog, part of a captive breeding program. Hudson Garcia

By Jason Bittel

Formidable predators stalk the forests between Panama and northern Argentina. They are sometimes heard but never seen. They are small but feisty and have even been documented trying to take down a tapir, which can top out at nearly 400 pounds. Chupacabras? No.

Read More Show Less
Great white shark. Elias Levy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By now you might have seen Ocean Ramsey's rare and jaw-dropping encounter with a great white shark in waters near Oahu, Hawaii.

Ramsey, a marine biologist, said on the TODAY Show that it was "absolutely breathtaking and heart-melting" to be approached by the massive marine mammal.

Read More Show Less