Like a lot of people – most people, I would assume – I’ve been using dryer sheets to get rid of static in the dryer. In addition, these dryer sheets gave my laundry a pleasant, fresh smell. I’ve been using Bounce and the Kirkland Signature equivalent for years.
One of my colleagues brought to my attention the fact that dryer sheets are full of nasty chemicals, and that I’d be better off without them. Courtesy of HealthyLivingHowTo, here’s a list of the disgusting stuff you can expect to find in a typical dryer sheet:
- Alpha-Terpineol causes central nervous system disorders. Can also cause loss of muscular coordination, central nervous system depression, and headache.
- Benzyl Alcohol causes central nervous system disorders, headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, central nervous system depression, and, in severe cases, death.
- Camphor on the US EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. Central nervous system stimulant, causes dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles, and convulsions.
- Chloroform on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. Neurotoxic and carcinogenic.
- Ethyl Acetate on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. Narcotic. May cause headaches and narcosis (stupor).
- Linalool causes central nervous system disorders. Narcotic. In studies of animals, it caused ataxic gait (loss of muscular coordination), reduced spontaneous motor activity, and depression.
- Pentane causes headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, and loss of consciousness. Repeated inhalation of vapours causes central nervous system depression.
None of that is particularly appealing, and most of it is downright scary! After our last box of dryer sheets was done, my wife and I started looking for alternatives.
We tried a ball of foil in the dryer, which sort of worked, except that you’re always looking for said ball of foil. We ended up having little foil balls all over the house, which was kind of annoying, and you don’t want to always be looking for it when you need it.
My colleague, who’s a little bit of a hippie, had told me that you shouldn’t use anything to wash your clothes that you wouldn’t put in your mouth, and told me about using vinegar to replace the laundry detergent. While I wasn’t quite ready for that, research revealed that using a half-cup of vinegar in your laundry would help break down the laundry detergent, and soften your clothes as well. I decided to give it a shot.
What I do is put about half the laundry detergent I used to use, or half of what’s recommended by the company, and about a half cup of vinegar directly on the clothes before starting the washing machine. I let the cycle run its course, then transfer the damp clothes or towels to the dryer.
That’s it. Nothing else to add.
The clothes come out of the dryer completely static-free, without the dryer sheet health hazard, and without relatively effective but incredibly annoying balls of foil.
I can get about 10 liters of Allen’s Pure White Vinegar at Costco for about 5 dollars. Assuming you don’t use the vinegar for anything else, that means you can get about 80 loads worth of laundry done with it, for a price per load of about 6-7 pennies. It’s more expensive than dryer sheets, for sure – Kirkland Signature ones are about 2 pennies each – but what you spend in dollars you get back in knowing you’re not putting all sort of nasty chemicals on your body.
Of course, please make sure to use only pure white vinegar, not balsamic vinegar, or your clothes may come out a little worse for wear, stained and smelling like a salad.
Using vinegar to reduce static in the dryer works very well, and I’ve been doing it for about a month now. I’m never going back to nasty dryer sheets, and I encourage everyone to do the same and unless you really, really overdo it on the vinegar, your clothes will only smell freshly laundered, not like salt-and-vinegar chips.
Let me know of your experiences in the comments, if you have other alternatives or any other hacks you feel I should try, I look forward to hearing from you and learning new things!