Doing laundry is a real pain in the neck, and I mean that literally. I live in an apartment building and use a laundry room in the basement. Because I have to haul a big bag of clothes to do this, I only do this chore once a week (which makes the bag even heavier I guess). I go up and down to change the clothes from washer to dryer and then haul them up when they’re done. When the job is done, I get a great sense of satisfaction knowing everything is clean and I don’t have to do it again until next week.
Well, I didn’t get that feeling of satisfaction yesterday because after I dumped out my clean clothes on the bed to put them away, an artificial perfume smell began to permeate from the bag. It hit me right away – I must have missed a dryer sheet that someone else left in one of the dryers!
You may think I’m over-reacting but I was so angry and still am. It’s all I smell now in my apartment. I started using Seventh Generation Baby Detergent right before my daughter was born. There’s no fragrance in it at all and I’ve really gotten used to my clothes smelling like nothing. Now all I smell is artificial fragrance which many companies use to hide the chemical smell in dryer sheets.
Here’s some of what can be typically found in dryer sheets and what these chemicals have been linked to:
- Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer
- Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant
- Ethanol: On the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders
- Limonene: Suspected Gastrointestinal or Liver Toxicant, Immunotoxicant,
Kidney Toxicant, Neurotoxicant, Respiratory Toxicant, and Skin or Sense Organ Toxicant
- 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
Health effects from being exposed to the chemicals in fabric softeners include:
- Central nervous system disorders
- Blood pressure reduction
- Irritation to skin, mucus membranes and respiratory tract
- Pancreatic cancer
If you’d like to make your clothes softer, choose instead the wonder products – vinegar or baking soda. Just add a quarter cup of either of them to the wash cycle the next time you do laundry. Then you can enjoy the sweet smell of nothing.