Did you know that common fabric softeners have chemicals that are absorbed through your skin? I had never questioned my dryer sheets until someone I knew who was seeing a fertility specialist advised her to stop using them. I was shocked. I really shouldn't be, but as a culture we are so trusting of what we buy on the shelf...
What I've been learning lately is that the natural and chemical-free alternative is actually WAY more economical and, incredibly, it's simple. I'll write a post later about household cleaners, but in all honesty you only need a couple basic non-toxic ingredients in your house and you can use them for EVERYTHING. One such ingredient is vinegar.
I had no appreciation for vinegar until we lived in an apartment with a front-loading washer. The mold buildup was constant (I'd often run empty loads with bleach to clean it, besides the obvious wiping it out and leaving the door open when not in use). Nothing seemed to get rid of the awful smell on our clothes. Then I remembered someone mentioning it as an odor eliminator, so I gave it a shot and started putting a little bit in all our loads of laundry. Miraculously, my clothes started smelling normal again and the mold buildup in my washer decreased.
When we moved this past fall into a place with an old-fasioned top loading washer, the mold wasn't an issue anymore so I stopped using vinegar. Then I found out that vinegar is a natural softener so I stopped using my dryer sheets and used a splash of vinegar instead. I was surprised that my clothes were actually MUCH softer than with the dryer sheets! For the first few days I wondered why people would use dryer sheets at all, until I did a load containing my husbands shirts and not only did I have to pull the shirts apart (because they were sticking to one another), but my hair was reacting as well!! Ok, so vinegar does work as a softener but sure doesn't take care of static!
So, I had to go back to the drawing board.
Have I mentioned that I LOVE search engines! In no time I had found that you can buy super-inexpensive chemical-free dryer balls (such a wool) and they last up to 2 years!
I am LOVING all the money savings that are the consequence of a chemical free house!!! Here I thought that I'd be paying MORE to protect my family, but in the end I'm saving! It's crazy!
Ok, one more tip about vinegar I was given by a Hungarian friend of mine: wash your new clothes with vinegar water the first time and it will seal in the color. It won't bleed as much and will stay brighter for longer.
Here is some more info on the chemicals in your dryer sheets: