Are Dryer Sheets Harmful to Humans?
The secret is out. Dryer sheets aren’t good for anyone. They are not good for your pets, your kids, you, or the environment. However, they are so convenient that some people still actively avoid talking about their harmful effects. On the other hand, if your dryer is broken, you’re quick to search for “dryer repair near me” and hire professionals to fix it for you. Let’s check out why dryer sheets are harmful to humans.
- How dryer sheets work – Dryer sheets work in a marvelous way. The heat of the dryer slowly softens and melts the compounds that stick to the sheet. Those chemicals are then soaked up by the regular fabrics in your dryer. The fatty acid chains and chemicals that are soaked up by your clothes and sheets now render them smooth and slippery. When the surface of those fabrics gets smooth, they are more likely to repel lint and hair and feel very soft. Since there are fewer loose fibers, there’s also less static.
However, as those chemicals from dryer sheets are transferred to your clothes, they can build up over time. This can make those fabrics less breathable if those chemicals are not washed away thoroughly the next time in the washer. While you may not notice it if you’re into fast fashion and change your wardrobe quite often, you may notice this effect on thicker fabrics like towels. Towels get less absorbent over time and can get smelly rather quickly. However, that’s one of the benign effects of dryer sheets.
- Toxic chemicals – As mentioned above, dryer sheets contain a lot of chemicals and depend on them to provide static and wrinkle-free clothes. However, when you breathe in those chemical residues, they can disrupt the hormonal activity in your body and trigger chronic conditions like asthma. Research conducted on five popular dryer sheet brands shows that those sheets emitted as many as 15 EDCs(Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals) and other chemicals linked to asthma.
EDCs have also been linked to other problems related to metabolism and can be dangerous to your nervous and reproductive systems. They have also been found to be carcinogenic in nature. Apart from dryer sheets, the researchers also included items like air fresheners, perfumes, and all sorts of household products in the study. The results were very shocking since the scientists found that dryer sheets had more alarming chemicals compared to kitchen and bathroom cleaners.
While dryer sheets mostly contain fatty acids, there is a demand for fragrance and that’s where those toxic chemicals come in. To preserve the efficacy of dryer sheets and to add those pleasant fragrances, manufacturers add a lot of toxic chemicals. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to find a box of dryer sheets without fragrance.
- Ingredients aren’t disclosed most times – With most products, you are able to opt for the safer choice by reading the label and checking through the ingredients. However, it’s not so simple with dryer sheets. While most things found in a typical supermarket aisle are required to disclose the full list of ingredients, it’s not the same for dryer sheets.
Dryer sheets are regulated by The Consumer Products Safety Commission(CPSC). It’s an agency that regulates soap and laundry products. Unfortunately, they are well-known for their lax regulations. They provide a lot of leeway to manufacturers about disclosing the ingredients. Manufacturers can choose to list all, some, or no ingredients for dryer sheets. For instance, a manufacturer who makes dryer sheets with 10 ingredients could choose to list all 10 or just 5 ingredients on the label.
That means, you as a consumer don’t have full disclosure and that leads to uninformed or confusing purchase decisions. You don’t have any means to judge and identify a box of dryer sheets for their safety. So even if you pick up a dryer sheet with no fragrance, you can’t be sure that it doesn’t have any of those toxic chemicals.
- Lack of testing – It’s safe to assume that most governmental agencies that regulate an industry require the safety testing of products before approval. Wrong! That’s not the case with laundry and cleaning products. That means manufacturers who create dryer sheets aren’t required to put their products through rigorous safety tests.
While the regulatory bodies have banned the use of some chemicals, the list is disappointingly short. Compared to American government agencies, their Japanese, Canadian, and European Union counterparts don’t even allow a lot of chemicals present in dryer sheets in the US market. Among the 3000 high-production chemicals used in the US, just 7 percent have been tested for toxicity.
- Unknown effects – When you’re exposed to so many different chemicals and a wide mix of compounds you do not know how they are affecting your body. No one knows the extent of the damage caused by these products on the human body. Even researchers who know about the adverse effects of a few chemicals, don’t know how they may interact with each other and the drastic effects they may cause on exposure.
- Dryer sheet alternatives – With so much evidence pointing toward the toxicity of dryer sheets for human health and the unreliability of the product labels, it’s best to switch to a safer alternative. In recent years, foil balls and wool balls have come out to become popular replacement options. They don’t contain any toxic chemicals and if you’re really craving that fragrance, you can use natural essential oils to make your clothes smell fresh. Moreover, wool balls can be reused multiple times and are cheaper than dryer sheets in the long run.
Dryer sheets are full of toxic chemicals. Even a trace amount of those chemicals making their way into your body is harmful to you in the long term. Instead, it’s best to switch to more sustainable alternatives like woolen balls and foil balls. If you’ve damaged your dryer with the excessive use of dryer sheets, you can search for “dryer repair near me” and hire professionals to fix it for you.