Thursday, April 19, 2007

Fabric Softener

I used to love the smell of clothes fresh and warm out of the dryer. Just a sniff of the fabric softener my mom used would be enough to bring back a flood of memories. But when I was first beginning to learn about the toxins that loom in our homes and search for answers to our family history of environmental allergies, I was SHOCKED to learn that something Id always taken for granted was very, very unhealthy.

Detergent leaves residue on your clothes, leaving them rough and staticy. Fabric Softener works by coating the clothes with a chemical layer to make them feel smooth and soft. And obviously, unless unscented, they are FULL of artifical fragrance - an "ingredient" with zero regulations/definitions from the FDA.

*List of Ingredients in Fabric Softeners
READ THIS. Very scary.

According to, 95% of the chemicals in Fabric Softener are petroleum-based and "Many are known to cause cancer, birth defects, and damage to lungs, brain, and nerves. These chemicals are even more dangerous when heated in clothes dryers. The toxic fumes then go into neighborhood air and everyone for blocks around is forced to breathe them in." Article Eek!!!!

That means that cancer-causing chemicals are sitting on your skin 24 HOURS A DAY! Remember in my last post I mentioned that its estimated that 60% of what we put on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream? Add this up over a lifetime and its a scary thought, especially for our children.

Vinegar is a much healthier option. Simply fill a Downey Ball with vinegar and put it in with each load. Vinegar works in a similar way so that your clothes will not be staticy! They will not, however, be as soft. Nor will they smell like Downey. But I dont miss it at all. In fact when I smell my neighbors chemical-laden dryer exhaust it really bothers my allergies now. Ick!

This is a simple, easy and inexpensive way to make a healthy change for your family! It may take some getting used to but after awhile you wont miss it at all!


Alli said...

I can't bring myself to read the articles. I get too freaked out. But I'm heading to Walmart in the next day or so and a Downy Ball is on my list!

Ricci Quill said...

We use the All free and clear in our washer and I have found that I don't even need fabric softner, I don't use anything in our dryer and I have not had any static problems. I wonder if the fragrances have something to do with the static, or maybe I have just gotten lucky, and one of these days I am going to open the dryer to static cling. Ha Ha

chewymama said...

Ricci - I forgot to say that water hardness has a lot to do with it too. The harder the water, the more buildup from the detergent. Although you and I should have the same water??? We use All Free and Clear too. I went without the vinegar for awhile but Steve was complaining about the towels and blankets shocking him ;)

chewymama said...

p.s. since you were using scented detergent before AND softener there is still buildup on your clothes and that may be a big reason why you dont have static yet. It may come eventually unfortunately. Although thats a good sign that your clothes are chemical-free! CHARLIES SOAP is a washing soap that will clean the residue from clothes and your washer. We used it for awhile and our clothes were soft again! (but it doesnt work well in hard water for using all the time)

ginafer said...

I don't have any of those ingrediants in my FS. Either that or I can't read the label properly! Which is always possible with these long winded words!

chewymama said...

well many things arent required to be put on the ingredients list either. "Fragrance" for example can be anything they want it to be, there are no regulations as to what it consists of. What DOES the label say if you dont mind?

Anthony | Heated Gloves said...

Thanks for sharing your blog, i didn't know fabric softener got chemicals, that give's me a shocked, well thanks to you..