Healthy Living

3 Steps to Avoid Dryer Sheet Air Pollution

wool dryer ballsThere’s nothing quite like the warm smell of fresh laundry. I grew up with that scent, and was taught early on that when doing a load you put the soap in the washer and the dryer sheet in the dryer—I simply couldn’t think about doing one without the other. But because of allergies and asthma in my household, I stopped using dryer sheets about a decade ago. And you know what? My clothes are just as soft. Now new research shows my laundry is safer, too, because of dryer sheet air pollution.

Dryer sheet air pollution is a serious problem. Researchers studied the air coming from laundry machines and found that dryer sheets emit high levels of toxic chemicals—including two carcinogens. Yes, it’s real. A new study found dryer sheet air pollution is a serious problem. Researchers at the University of Washington studied the air coming from laundry machines and found that dryer sheets emit high levels of toxic chemicals—including two carcinogens.

By capturing the air from the dryer vent, they were able to compare the what was emitted when dryer sheets were used, and when they were not. Dryer sheet air pollution included gases from more than 25 volatile organic compounds, including seven chemicals classified as hazardous air pollutants by the Environmental Protection Agency. Many of these chemicals are linked to fragrance allergies and even asthma. Of those seven, acetaldehyde and benzene are classified as carcinogens for which there is no safe exposure level.

What can you do to avoid dryer sheet air pollution?

1. Avoid dryer sheets. Even those marked “unscented” can have toxic chemicals added to mask the scent of the chemicals used to create the product.

2. Use wool dryer balls like these from Sheep SoftSmart Sheep or Maple Hill to cut down on drying time and reduce static.

3. If you don’t have wool dryer balls, try throwing an old sweater in with your load—it works the same way.

You can also take a look at this round-up I did of natural and homemade laundry solutions and toxic chemicals to look out for in cleaning products. Then join Women’s Voices for the Earth by taking their pledge to Ditch the Dryer Sheets. I did!

Do you use dryer sheets? Why or why not? Please share, in comments below. Thanks!

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