We rarely use the dryer these days – one of the benefits of living in a drought-prone area I guess and Australia also still has a love affair for drying clothes outdoors, but I do remember our dryer being used more when I was growing up in a wetter part of the country. My mom would also use dryer sheets to add a nice fragrance to the clothes.
It may have smelled nice, but as with so many things we did so naively back then, we really didn’t think too much about what was in those sheets and the possible consequences.
Most commercial dryer sheets are impregnated with all sorts of toxic chemicals including Benzyl Acetate, Benzyl Alcohol, Chloroform and Linalool; none of which are good for the environment – or you. Some of these compounds are known carcinogens.
Aside from the chemicals in the sheets winding up in your clothing and therefore next to your skin, when heated, the fumes are also toxic.
If you’re looking for a greener alternative to dryer sheets; here’s a couple of ideas that are very easy and cheap to do:
– Fill a small cloth drawstring bag with dried aromatic herbs or flowers and throw in the dryer with your clothes. Make sure the bag is tied securely of course :)
– A few drops of fragrant essential oil on a small cloth added to the dryer load will also do the trick. Essential oils are highly concentrated, so don’t go overboard, the heat will release more fragrance than what you can detect when initially applying a few drops to the cloth.
There’s also environmentally friendly dryer sheets on the market now and some other unusual gizmos and devices. One of the more interesting ones I came across are “dryer balls” (not to be confused with laundry balls). These dryer balls look to be a lump of rubber or plastic covered in nodules. The idea is that these get between the clothes, speed up drying time and the action softens the fabric. Unfortunately, some of them I noticed are made from PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride).
… but really, a couple of drops of essential oil on a cloth sounds like a very easy, cheap and very green way to go! If you’re also wanting the fabric softening qualities that normal dryer sheets provide, try throwing 1/2 a cup of vinegar in with your washing – that’s the washing load, not the dryer load :).
Pick up some more earth friendly cleaning and washing tips