Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Stop Bounce(ing) - The Dangers of Dryer Sheets

I have to admit, I was pretty much in the dark about the dangers of dryer sheets. My husband came home yesterday and said, "Dryer sheets are really bad for you. You should look into that for your blog." I thought, "That's a good idea. Luckily I've been buying the environmentally friendly kind."

Well, that is what I thought, anyway. I obviously wasn't paying very close attention. I took out my almost empty box of "Bounce Free" and casually glanced at it. I saw such green announcements as "Box made from 100% recycled paper" and "No dyes and perfumes." When I looked at the ingredients list, however, all it said was, "Bounce contains biodegradable cationic softeners." That doesn't sound so bad, right?

Wrong. They just aren't required to list all the awful chemicals that make up these biodegradable elements. What's worse, these chemicals infiltrate your clothing and are slowly released into your system every time you wear this clothing. There is detailed information about this from SixWise, so I won't go into details here. Suffice to say you would NOT want this stuff entering your bloodstream if you could help it.  I know some of you are thinking you are safe because you use liquid fabric softener, but, trust me, it's is just as bad.  

So, what are the alternatives?  How can you soften, scent and de-static cling your clothing without chemicals? The good news is that the options are all much less expensive than buying dryer sheets and fabric softener. 
  • Air Dry: I know the best thing you can do for your clothes, yourself and the environment is to not use a dryer at all.  It saves energy and makes your clothes last longer, which you can read about in more detail courtesy of this article from The Golden Spiral. It also eliminates static cling.
  • Vinegar: Add 1/2 cup of plain old white vinegar where you would normally put liquid fabric softener in your washing machine.  It will soften your clothes, cut soap residue than can dull colored items and naturally remove static.  Do NOT use it in conjunction with bleach.
  • Fabric Type: Synthetic fabrics are the major culprits for static cling, so try to wash them separately from cottons and take them out when they are still slightly damp. 
I also tried using aluminum foil in the place of dryer sheets, as I'd read that eliminated static cling, but it didn't work for me.  Some manufactured products, such as dryerballs and the static eliminator, claim to be better than dryer sheets, but both are made of synthetic ingredients and the dryerballs are plastic.  The best actual dryer sheets I've found are the Method Dryer Cloths, but they still waste precious resources and energy, all to solve the horrid first world problem of static cling and fabric softness! 


  1. hello, just saw your blog post...

    the site sixwise --- i went there hoping to read something great, but then quickly saw it was selling its own dryer sheets.

    so i can't believe anything they say.
    there is HUGE conflict of interest there.

    so did you do any other research?

  2. I ended up just giving up dryer sheets completely! I don't even miss them.

  3. I have never used dryer sheets and I rarely use bleach. I have only used Gain's Original Fresh detergent for years. Before that I used Sun liquid laundry detergent until they changed to a "new and improved" formula. I have no idea what they did to it but it caused my children to break out in huge hives! Therefore, I switched to Gain and have had no problems. But I never have used dryer sheets.

  4. Check out Shaklee's Dryer Sheets, no harmful chemicals and on their website you can put Dryer Sheets in the search bar and get the specs on it.
    They are also biodegradable!

  5. One option is to buy or make your own wool dryer balls. Etsy has some great ones in several colors. A friend of mine uses these and thinks they work wonderfully; I plan on making some this weekend. My friend says three at a time work best.

  6. I just got an E-mail from a friend who recommended Bounce drier sheets for chasing away ants, yellow jackets, mice and mosquitoes. Sounds like a wonderful thing, but makes me wonder what kind of ingredients are in it! Toxic, that's for sure!

  7. Vinegar will acid wash your clothes, especially cottons with dark colors. Be careful how much you use. Start with only a very small amount and see what results you get.

  8. Shirly I use dryer sheets in my drawers and knock on wood its kept the mice out so far...

  9. You say there are horrible things in Bounce dryer sheets but you never go into WHAT they are!!

  10. Hi, I linked to an article that provided many of the common chemicals used in dryer sheets, but in case that didn't work for you, here is the list:

    Benzyl Acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer

    Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant

    Ethanol: On the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders

    A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage

    Ethyl Acetate: A narcotic on the EPA's Hazardous Waste list

    Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders

    Chloroform: Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic

    Linalool: A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders

    Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled