I haven't given up my dryer completely, but I decided I was done with dryer sheets for good when I found out that what softens your clothes is actually animal fat—yeah, you read that right, fat. (Whether you're vegan or not, that's just GROSS.)
It was the last straw, because I already knew that fabric softener and conventional dryer sheets also contain a plethora of scary chemicals I don't want anywhere near my body, not even on my clothes:
• Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer
• Benzyl alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant
• Ethanol: On the Environmental Protection Agency's hazardous waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders
• A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage
• Ethyl acetate: A narcotic on the EPA's hazardous waste list
• Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders
• Chloroform: Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic
• Linalool: A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders
• Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled
I made the switch to dryer balls, which fluff your clothes naturally and help eliminate static. But there's no need to pay for ones that are commercially made; I make mine with only three "ingredients" that you probably already have lying around the house.
DIY Dryer Balls
For one ball, you'll need:
- two old socks
- your favorite essential oil (I use lavender)
Take one sock and roll it it up from the toe like a jelly roll; at the end, turn the cuff over the roll so that it holds the roll in place.
Then, generously dab on your essential oil; use 15–20 drops and let it soak into the sock. Place the rolled up sock inside the second sock. Twist the open sock once, then turn it inside out. Continue twisting and turning inside out as necessary until the whole sock is a ball.
Throw your homemade dryer ball in with your next batch of laundry. One works fine; two is even better for fluffing. Your clothes will come out soft, static-free, and smelling sweet—without any icky stuff on them.
When you notice that the smell has faded over time, simply open up the top sock, add more essential oil to the inner sock, and re-wrap. (The two layers prevent any oil from getting on your clothes.)