As we strive to make our daily lives more convenient and comfortable, it’s easy to overlook potential dangers lurking in seemingly harmless products. Dryer sheets are a good example. While they may seem innocuous, a growing body of evidence suggests these household staples may have a darker side. From the chemicals they release into the air to the long-term effects on our well-being and the earth, it’s time to take a closer look at these seemingly benign laundry accessories.
A Tale of Laundry Woe
It’s the Twenty-First Century businessperson’s nightmare: You’re on your way to work for the most important meeting of the year. You’re dressed to the nines, and your presentation is ready. As you walk from the back of the room to the podium, you hear some snickering. The closer you get, the more laughter you hear. When you turn to the assembly to speak, they quickly clam up. But as you begin speaking, they can’t control themselves, and the snickers begin anew.
Every time you turn to reference a slide, there’s a burst of laughter as if someone taped a “Kick Me” sign on your back. Finally, a colleague walks up to you and pulls something off your back, something you hadn’t noticed throughout the morning as you got dressed, ate breakfast, drove to work, and prepared yourself for your meeting.
It’s a white sock.
This is part of why we buy those fabric-softening sheets. We want our clothes to be silky, smooth, and smelling fresh. But what’s the trade-off? What damage could a dryer sheet possibly do?
Laundry Chemicals May Cause Brain Disease
According to the book The Brain Wash: A Powerful, All-Natural Program to Protect Your Brain Against Alzheimer’s, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Depression, Parkinson’s, and Other Diseases by Michelle Schoffro Cook (Copyright 2007, by the author), they can do plenty of damage. How’s this for a mighty quote?
“Headlines around the world are reporting two disturbing trends: the incidence of brain disease is growing at an alarming rate; and increasing levels of industrial chemicals are being found in human bodies.”
“Brain disease?” you ask with an incredulous tone. “Dryer sheets cause brain disease?”
Yes. Dryer sheets CAN cause brain disease.
Dryer sheets and some of the liquid fabric softeners contain several things that can have a direct effect on your nervous system. Here are some of the most common, according to The Brain Wash:
- 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: Central nervous system stimulant, causes dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles, and convulsions.
- Chloroform: Chloroform is on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. It’s neurotoxic and carcinogenic.
- Ethyl Acetate: Ethyl Acetate is another ingredient on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. Narcotic. May cause headaches and narcosis (stupor).
- Linalool: Causes central nervous system disorders. Narcotic. In animal studies, 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 vapors causes central nervous system depression.
So, what can you use instead? We recommend a set of six wool balls, typically with an essential oil blend added. This helps soften the clothes and won’t leave you with carcinogens rubbing against your body all day. And hopefully you won’t go to work with a sock stuck to your back.