By Wendy Gabriel
GREEN TIP: Use 1/4 to 1 cup of white vinegar to soften your clothes instead of commercial fabric softener.
It is unbelievable the chemicals contained in the products we are supposed to know and trust. The cuddly, fabric softeners and dryer sheets you use to make your family’s clothes smell nice and feel soft are full of chemicals that could make everyone in your home very sick.
When I was pregnant with our first baby, I began to use a non-toxic, bio-degradable laundry detergent. And when she was born, I never used dryer sheets on her clothes. I thought I was being good to her skin and to the environment.
But by using dryer sheets with all the other laundry, I might as well have made a blanket of them and wrapped her in it because they have a chemical that makes them spew their “fresh” scent over and over again!
According to the Allergy and Environmental Health Association (AEHA), the “product is designed to impregnate fibres and slowly re-release for an extended period of time. That re-releasing affects the health not only of users, but those around them.” Wonderful. And apparently the fabric softener/dryer sheet-makers took a page out of the cigarette makers’ playbook and made sure to add “neurostimulant/irritants and central nervous system toxins”; they are added to produce “an addictive-type response that may cause the user to experience a feeling of pleasure when the product is directly inhaled.”
The nicotine of the laundry industry.
This wouldn’t be so terrible if the potential health effects of the chemicals used to make these products weren’t unbelievably awful. I will list just a few: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Alzheimer’s, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Dementia, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis. And, incredibly, there are even more.
Health Recipes.com warns that “most of the dangerous chemicals in fabric softeners are most dangerous when inhaled.” Does anyone test these products before they are beautifully packaged and mercilessly marketed? I did find a test performed by Anderson JH Anderson Laboratories, Inc. Their findings conclude that “the results provide a toxicological basis to explain some of the human complaints of adverse reactions to fabric softener emissions.” Apparently not enough of a deterrent to the companies selling these delightful products!
Be good, beware and shop smart.
For additional safe alternatives to common household products, the AEHA’s website has a great list for you to check out.