Are Dryer Sheets Bad For The Environment? Cost-Saving Alternatives

Dryer Sheets

The bottom line is yes, dryer sheets are bad for the environment and they’re not great for people either, particularly kids or pets.

In this post, I’ll discuss why dryer sheets are bad for the environment, what about dryer sheets are so bad, some alternatives to using dryer sheets, and how you can make your own fabric softener. The good news is by the time you get done with this article you’ll be able to save the environment, protect your health, and become a do-it-yourself wizard.

What Is In Dryer Sheets

If you’ve never used dryer sheets they are thin nonwoven polyester fabric covered in toxic chemicals to help soften clothes, reduce static cling, and leave your clothes smelling fresh. There are a variety of unsafe chemicals that can be used, but here are a few that you want to avoid:

  • Quaternary ammonium compounds – commonly referred to as “quants.” Epidemiologic studies show that prolonged exposure to quants is associated with high rates of asthma-like symptoms. These respiratory irritants are a big reason why dryer sheets are bad for you.
  • Chloroform – can damage the liver, causign hepatits, and it can also harm the kidneys, brain, heart and bone marrow.
  • Ethanol – typically very flammable, and has been linked to central nervous system disorders.

Dryer sheets usually contain a ton of fragrance chemicals too. These fragrances can cause an allergic reaction, breathing difficulties, and headaches. While this is a shortlist of problem chemicals, it’s just a small sample of what is in dryer sheets.

Alternatives To Dryer Sheets

The good news is, there are alternatives to toxic dryer sheets. One of the better alternatives is dryer balls. Wool dryer balls are biodegradable and antimicrobial. They’re about the size of a baseball, can last for years, and can reduce drying time. So not only are they better, but they’ll save on electricity bills too.

Just to give you some cost savings, the national kilowatt per hour is 12 cents. With a 40 minute run time per load, this comes out to about .44 cents per load. If you do 24 loads per month it comes out to $10.56 in dryer cost. Over the course of a year that’s $126.72. If dryer balls can cut your run time from 40 minutes to 30 minutes it’s closer to .34 per load. This equals about $98 per year vs $126.72 just for using wool dryer balls. They easily pay for themselves in the first year. It’s a win-win.

Another alternative is reusable dryer sheets. Normal dryer sheets are one-and-done items that end up in landfills. Reusable dryer sheets are good for over 500 washes and are 100% hypoallergenic so that allergy sufferers don’t have to deal with irritants.

Making Your Own Fabric Softener

If you’re more of a do-it-yourselfer person, making your own fabric softener is a breeze as well. Homemade fabric softener is non-toxic, will help you save money, and can help you get rid of old rags. The key ingredient is vinegar.

Simply dampen an old cloth with vinegar (it shouldn’t be too wet) and throw it in with your load of clothes. And don’t worry about your clothes smelling like vinegar. As they dry, the smell dissipates. If you want to add a bit of essential oils you can add a few drops to help leave your clothes smelling fresh. It’s a simple life hack that can save you money, protect your health and the environment.

Are Dryer Sheets Bad For Your Dryer

Dryer sheets are typically heat-activated so just as the dryer sheets leave a residue on your clothing that makes the fabric feel softer, they also leave residue in your dryer. This residue can clog the screen of the lint filter and reduce air circulation. Without proper air circulation, it will take longer to dry your clothes which in turn means using more power and running up your power bill.

Additionally, this residue can prevent the moisture sensor from working properly. Again, if the sensor isn’t working correctly, the dryer can run long, overdrying your clothes. Maybe, not a big deal, but this is more wear and tear on your dryer, and higher utility bills.

Dryer Sheets and Pets

Some cats and dogs are attracted to the scent of dryer sheets. If they fall to the floor and your pet gets to them before you can, they can be harmful to your pets. Ingesting dryer sheets can cause all sorts of problems and can leave you with a hefty vet bill.

What To Do With Remaining Dryer Sheets

Surprisingly enough, dryer sheets have alternative uses outside of their primary purpose. Obviously, switching to an alternative method is the end goal here, but if you have remaining dryer sheets, they’re good for cleaning pots and pans to scrubbing car grills and bumpers to pest control. Some claim they can repel mosquitoes but I wouldn’t go shirtless yet.

Wrapping up Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets aren’t the worst thing in the world, but it’s such a simple replacement. Not to mention the savings in power. If you have a big box remaining, it’s no good to just toss them, so use them up, and try to get the most out of them. Once you’re done with them, try one of the alternatives above or try making your own. Easy as that.

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