Taking care of hygiene and staying clean is fundamental for the vast majority of the people along with keeping everything around the house, office, or dorm neat and tidy. There is possibly no one who does not like the feeling of cleanliness and freshness.
In a similar way, keeping clothes clean is required to have this feeling as well as to actually keep away from dirt and germs. In doing so, people rely on a variety of products including dryer sheets.
What Are Dryer Sheets and Their Effects?
There is always a box of dryer sheets next to the laundry detergent and fabric softener in the room where the clothes are washed. Almost every other person tosses a dryer sheet or two into the dryer before adding the clothes.
The main purpose of using dryer sheets is a final touch to the freshly cleaned clothes. The sheets do, in fact, add a pleasant smell to the clothes when can be immediately smelt after the clothes are taken out from the dryer.
Dryer sheets are fairly common and considered an integral part of laundry nowadays. However, in addition to giving a good smell to the clothes, these sheets can also cause a lot of other effects on the person wearing them.
The typical boxes of dryer sheets have depictions of blossoming flowers on them such as roses, jasmines, and tulips but in reality that contains a whole range of harmful chemicals that can lead to serious health conditions.
In accordance with the latest research, the toxic dryer sheets are filled with different dangerous compounds and chemicals which are popular endocrine-disruptors, carcinogens, and pollutants which can cause considerable harm.
A box of dryer sheets might display the kind of scent, and abilities such as fabric softening, wrinkle-fighting power, freshness, and static reduction but does not show many harmful ingredients and impacts of the sheets.
Even though the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission does not require the dryer sheets to show all of their ingredients, the researchers are pretty much convinced that they contain some eyebrow-raising substances.
Therefore, there have been a number of studies conducted to observe what is inside the sheets as well as in the dryer vent exhaust to see how harmful they can be.
In one of those studies, the researchers examined the compounds present in the dryer vent by taking samples after the use of fabric softening and dryer sheets.
What Does Research Say?
The researchers saw 25 VOCs or volatile organic compounds and 7 different air pollutants spewing out of the dryers. Some of them were pollutants which are typically seen to come out from vehicle exhaust pipes including benzene and acetaldehyde.
Acetaldehyde is also one of the most common ingredients in fake or synthetic fragrances which has long been considered a carcinogen which can have negative impacts on the nervous, kidney, and respiratory systems.
The 2016 study also asked for people’s opinions on scented dryer sheets to which around 12.5 percent of the people told that they faced increased migraines, asthma attacks, gastrointestinal issues, and skin issues because of them.
This can be true keeping in mind that the top five most used dryer sheets brands have acetaldehyde emissions that are the same as six percent of the vehicle acetaldehyde emissions. This means that dryers sheets are not only harmful to health but for the environment as well.
Read the study here.
In addition, around 44% of the scented laundry dryers sheets had one or more carcinogenic air pollutant present in them including 1,4-dioxane, acetaldehyde, and formaldehyde and more than 12% of the people in the United States reported irritant reactions from dryer vents.
According to the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, the degree of harm caused by different dryer sheets also varies.
For example, some might contain the well-known asthma attack trigger quaternary ammonium compounds while others were harmful to the environment.
Know more about EWG’s guidelines for healthy cleaning here.
Lastly, researchers at Silent Spring Institute studied different dryer sheets and found that most of the scent dryer sheets contained the most toxic fragrance chemicals such as phenethyl alcohol, acetyl hexamythel, and isobornyl acetate.
Read more here.
What to use in place of dryer sheets? Fortunately, there are also many other alternatives to using dryer sheets such as adding a cup of white vinegar to the washer which can naturally clean the clothes and leave a fruity smell behind.