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I’m going off on a rant again and this time it’s about fabric softeners; most specifically the overpowering and overwhelming smell of some of them. Sheesh! I HATE the smell!! I am repulsed by these and other strong scents (perfumes, hairsprays, air fresheners, candles, etc.). Turns out, it might be my bodies way of warning me of the physical dangers these products contain.
I grew up with (unscented) fabric softeners and until I did research for this blog, I was still using them (although I’d switched to an eco-friendly, organic brand). I’d never once questioned why I should or shouldn’t use a softener or even WHY I was using them. If you wanted your laundry soft, you used a fabric softener. Right?
According to Natural News.com, fabric softeners are made up of a laundry list (pun intended!!!) of horrible toxins. Those toxins have been proven to cause cancer, Parkinson’s, yeast infections, fertility problems, asthma, headaches, and skin conditions (think rash or itching, etc.). These chemicals include (but are not limited to): Formaldehyde, Chloroform, A-Terpineo and Camphor.
Fetuses, babies and young children are incredibly sensitive to these highly toxic ingredients. These ingredients can cause brain damage, SIDs, ADD and depression.
Fabric softeners are designed to soften synthetic fabrics and to reduce static cling. Synthetic fabrics hold on to their odors so a softener was designed to cover up said odors. When synthetic fabrics are heated (think your workout tops), they become even more smelly. But oddly, the laundry directions for most moisture wicking synthetic workout clothes specifically state to omit fabric softeners.
Fabric softeners are designed to last and to release slowly over a period of time. These toxic chemicals are coating your (and your children’s!) towels, sheets and clothing. We physically absorb these toxins through our skin and we also inhale them. Even if you don’t use a fabric softener, you can still be exposed to these chemicals by working with someone who does. That’s lovely, huh?
Something I didn’t know is cotton (think towels and sheets) is designed to naturally soften the more washings/dryings it receives. Well, leDUH (head slap)! Yes! That makes perfect sense. Think of the sheets you’ve had for years; soft as a baby’s bum, aren’t they? Or your favorite old blue jeans? Yep. Good old cotton. It’s designed to be soft and yet we add fabric softener (made for synthetics!) to our rinse water. Egads! What a genius marketing ploy!!
There are safer, non-fabric softener options which include:
· Dry natural fabrics separately from synthetics. Natural fibers don’t develop static. (Huh. I didn’t know this). Also, don’t allow clothes to dry completely in the dryer. Remove them while they are still slightly damp and hang them up to finish drying. The longer they remain in the dryer, the more static.
· Green America suggests pre-soaking clothes in 1/2 cup of baking soda for 10 minutes if you have hard water. Baking soda acts as a natural fabric softener. (What?! Really??!)
· Use natural laundry soaps with soy-based fabric softeners. (Soy fabric softeners?! Now I’ve heard everything!)
· Chose products that are scent free (PLEASE! Ugh! The smell…THE SMELL!!) and don’t contain dyes.
· You can make your own dryer sheets by soaking a small cloth in 1 tsp. of hair conditioner and letting it dry. Then, toss it in the dryer to remove static.
· You can also add 1/2 cup of the old workhorse white vinegar to the rinse cycle.
· Lastly, use chemical-free dryer balls to fluff fibers and remove static cling.
You want ways to be proactive with your health? Eliminating unnecessary toxins in the form of fabric softeners is a good way to start.