It's plastic-free July and we are sharing some tips today on the riveting topic of laundry!
As a mom with two kids under three, I do, what feels like, a ton of laundry in my house. I might be able to get several wears out of most of my clothes, but between the mess the two of them make playing and eating, I usually do at least a load a day.
Over the years, I’ve improved on the supplies I use to make doing the wash more eco-friendly, but the journey was a bit rocky at times…
Several years ago, I’m ashamed to admit, I was using conventional washing supplies: laundry detergent, fabric softener, scented ‘beads’, and dryer sheets. At the time, I naively enjoyed the ‘fresh’ scent these products imbued my fabrics with. Then, I got pregnant.
I started having nightly allergy attacks, and found myself waking up extremely stuffy every morning. Granted, I have a cat who sleeps with me each night, but I wondered if something else was up. I was pretty miserable, so I did some research and discovered that most of the commercial laundry supplies on the market (and that I was using!) are not so great for your health and respiratory system.
"Ok", I thought. "I can transition to unscented versions of everything!"
I used up what I had, ditched the fabric softener and the scented ‘beads’ and turned to eco-friendly laundry wash, but I was still using unscented dryer sheets, as I thought I need them to help reduce static in the dryer.
It wasn’t until I started researching products for Unwrapped Life that I came across the many issues with dryer sheets. What’s so bad about them you ask? Well, here are the top two reasons, in my humble opinion, on the ‘laundry list’ (pun intended) of why you should avoid dryer sheets (followed by what to use next!):
Why avoid Dryer Sheets
1) Dryer Sheets are FULL of Chemicals (Nasty Ones)!
A lot of the research done on dryer sheets relates to the scented versions but it’s worth mentioning here what some of these studies show.
Anne Steinemann, PhD, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and a pioneer in fragrance research, and her team investigated the chemicals emitted from dryer vents in a very interesting study. They washed and dried pre-rinsed organic towels in clean washers and dryers with scented fabric softeners and dryer sheets.
Their findings indicated seven hazardous air pollutants and 25 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were coming out of the dryer vents and into the air we breathe. Some of these pollutants are commonly spewed from vehicle tailpipes, including acetaldehyde and benzene, are not safe at any level and are known carcinogens. Other chemicals include: benzyl acetate (which may cause dizziness), dichlorobenzene (commonly used in pesticides), chloroform (toxic anesthetic chemical), among others.
While most of these chemicals are regulated in outdoor emissions, it’s anything goes when it comes to home use, which is bizarre, if you ask me! Most people, including me previously, have NO idea they are introducing so many irritants into the air they breathe in and around their homes. Ms. Steinemann was quoted as stating: “This is an interesting source of pollution because emissions from dryer vents are essentially unregulated and unmonitored. If they’re coming out of a smokestack or tail pipe, they’re regulated, but if they’re coming out of a dryer vent, they’re not.”
Scented laundry products have been linked to health issues including ailments like: respiratory issues, runny noses, asthma, skin issues, hormone disruption, migraines and even gastrointestinal symptoms.
2) Designed for the Landfill
Conventional dryer sheets are a single-use and disposable product. Which, like all single-use disposables, are a nightmare for the environment. Conventional dryer sheets are made up of polyester, which is essentially plastic fabric. There are different kinds of polyesters, but the most common is made from polyethylene terephthalate or PET (think plastic water and drink bottles).
Make the Switch to Wool Dryer Balls
Our pure felted wool dryer balls are handmade from Merino or Polwarth wool. They offer an environmentally-friendly, toxin and chemical-free way to save time, and money, during laundering.
What's so great about wool dryer balls?
- Safe for people with sensitive skin as they do not contain dyes, chemicals or perfumes.
- Eliminate the need for fabric softener and dryer sheets (and the nasty chemical residue they leave on your clothes and fabrics).
- They do not harbor bacteria and will not harm your clothing, or your dryer, as the wool does not rub off or unravel.
- Tested to last for 1500+ loads.
- Reduces wrinkles and static cling.
- Saves time, money and resources by reducing drying time!
Our wool dryer balls help maintain humidity levels in your dryer by absorbing and evenly distributing moisture. The balls create air circulation between your clothing as they rotate in the dryer which results in softer clothes that dry faster, with less wrinkles and static cling.
- Put the dryer balls in the dryer along with your clean, wet clothes and turn machine on.
- We recommend using 3 balls for a normal sized load, and 6 balls for bulky items.
- To scent your clothes naturally, add a few drops of pure essential oils to each ball.
- Store balls in dryer when they are not in use.
Tips for using wool dryer balls:
- Do not over fill dryer. Overfilling the dryer is sure to lead to tangles and uneven drying, because the dryer balls won't have enough space to tumble and get air circulation through the laundry.
- Dry synthetic fabrics separately. Synthetics (aka plastic fabrics) like nylon and polyester are more likely to generate static cling in the dryer from the friction as they tumble back and forth. Wool dryer balls work best on natural fibers and will not entirely get rid of static cling associated with synthetic clothes. It's best to hang dry synthetic items, or remove them from the dryer when they are damp dry. Truth be told, I don't often do this as I follow the tip below to help reduce static cling for synthetic fabrics (mostly workout wear).
- Do not over dry clothes. To get best results, remove clothes before they become too dry. This will result in less static cling and less wrinkles! If your dryer has a moisture sensor, use the 'less dry' setting versus 'normal.' When items are completely dry and no moisture remains in the machine, this invites static electricity into the mix. This is especially key in cold and dry Canadian winters!
We hope this post will encourage you to make the switch from conventional dryer sheets to our world dryer balls and help you bring your laundry routine towards zero-waste!