It amazes me how my life’s journey takes twists and turns and in the process valuable lessons are learned. The first twist is I have had lower back pain off and on for the last few years. It happened when huge german shepherd I was working with took an unexpected turn at full speed and wrenched my back out of whack. Being the hippie and naturalist that I am, I do not seek medical help unless it is a life or death situation. I’ve probably only been to the Doctor a couple of times in the last decade. I try to eat healthy, exercise and use natural alternatives to medication when possible.
The second twist is the great dryer sheet debate that has gone on in my household for years. My husband Scott hates using dryer sheets and never puts them in when he loads the dryer. Then I take the clothes out and they are full of static and the inevitable argument ensues. He says they are full of chemicals and not necessary. I say it’s hard to look cute if your clothes are plastered to your body like lumpy wallpaper. To add to the debate, my daughter Rachel has been on me for years about leaving the dryer sheets on the floor after I fold the laundry. Dryer sheets have been and are destined to remain a hot topic in our family. The third twist is I lost my job on Monday.
Now, on to the valuable life lesson. Earlier this week I was doing my daily household chores and in the background I heard one of my dogs yelp. I hurried through the house in search of the commotion (the dog turned out to be fine), but as I was dashing through the laundry room my barefoot stepped on a dryer sheet (the ones I always leave on the floor) and down I went like fat kid on a seesaw. The dryer sheet skiing foot slid out in front making me do a partial split and I ended up landing on my opposite knee, while sitting down hard on my crumpled non-skiing foot. After uttering string of words that would make a sailor blush, I was left with a skinned knee and badly bruised toe, but the pain in my lower back was totally gone! I think may have received an unintentional chiropractic back adjustment. This is how the karma of my life flows, the good always makes its way back around. Even bad things can have a positive outcome. So I’ll try to have faith and not sweat it when life takes the unexpected twist or turn. Usually there is something better waiting to be discovered around the bend.
This past week has been one of introspect which led me to think about how dangerous those darn little sheets are (Scott and Rachel, you were right and I was wrong). So I started searching the internet for similar stories. To my surprise, I found out that many people complain about getting sick from dryer sheets and liquid fabric softeners. Go ahead and read the ingredients on your dryer sheets, if you can find them. For some reason, dryer sheets seem to have escaped having to list their ingredients on the package. Could it be the manufacturers are trying to hide something? My own dryer sheet ingredients simply say: contains fabric-softening agents (cationic types) and perfume in a non-woven sheet
Here’s a list of just some of the dangerous chemicals found in dryer sheets and fabric softeners.
- Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer.
- Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant.
- Ethanol: On the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders.
- Limonene: Known carcinogen.
- 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
Some of the symptoms experienced from prolonged exposure to the types of chemicals found in dryer sheets include headaches, nausea, vomiting , dizziness, central nervous system disorders, blood pressure reduction, fatigue, difficulty breathing, skin irritation, difficulty concentrating and remembering, cancer, irritation to skin, mucus membranes and respiratory tract, and liver damage. This can’t help but make one wonder if dryer sheet usage may somehow be contributing to our current rise in Alzheimer’s disease?
Although I will miss their sweet scent and static control, I am going to make an effort to eliminate them from my household. Here are some natural alternatives to using dryer sheets and fabric softeners:
- Hang your clothes outside on a clothesline. People today think that hanging clothes out to dry in the sun is old-fashioned, but it is actually a more effective way to kill germs than a dryer, does not produce static electricity and is much more environmentally safe. Go green and put up a clothesline.
Click on image above for a great DIY clothesline project.
- Wear natural fabrics to avoid static cling. Synthetic fabrics, such as polyester and lycra are prone to static.
- For softness and to kill germs, add vinegar to the wash. Just add ½ cup of white distilled vinegar to the rinse water of the laundry cycle.
- Use an eco-friendly fabric softener. There are a number of alternative “green” fabric softeners on the market made with natural fragrance or are fragrance-free.
- Try dryer balls. Many consumers report great results when they toss a couple of rubbery dryer balls in with each load in the dryer.
- Remove clothes while still damp. You can hang your clothes up damp to avoid static cling.
- Toss in a dish cloth with a drop of essential oil or add a natural sachet of herbs, such as lavender or mint. This may not eliminate static, but will add a nice fragrance to your clothes.
With all the natural alternatives, surely we can eliminate those chemically soaked sheets of destruction from our households and maybe in the process improve our overall health.