I know, I know…you love the scent that fabric softeners leave on your clothes. Bet you didn’t know those perfumes are only there to mask nasty chemical odors, and are pretty toxic themselves. I was a die-hard dye-free, perfume-free liquid fabric softener user for years. I thought I was playing it safe because I didn’t know what has to be added to cover up that chemical smell when you aren’t using perfumes. These substances are known as masking agents, and guess what they are? More chemicals! So, what is the real skinny on what’s in your fabric softener? Here’s a breakdown of just some of what you’re snuggling up to*:
- Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer
- Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant
- Ethanol: On the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders
- 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
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any of that stuff in my system. I especially don’t want it on my baby! So, how do you get your clothes soft without this stuff? The answer is surprisingly easy, uncomplicated, and will save you a bundle over the pricey, chemical-laden, store-bought versions.
Vinegar. You’ll see me tout the power of vinegar a lot on this website…and for good reason. The stuff has so many uses and is so cheap! Yes, I know it stinks…like a gym locker according to my husband. But, don’t worry…there is a way around that, too. For one thing, most of that smell will be gone once your laundry is done. Secondly, there is a totally natural way to get your clothes smelling wonderful…essential oils. Essential oils have many health benefits, too, so you are not only sparing yourself and your family exposure to nasty chemicals that can harm you and them, but you are also giving them a little aromatherapy boost. Here’s how:
- Add about a cup of baking soda to your wash water before adding clothes. (I don’t always do this because I have a front loader and things still turn out great.) Baking soda is a wonderful, natural water softener and costs about $3 for a five pound box.
- Place about ½ cup distilled white vinegar and 3-5 drops of your favorite essential oil (I love dōTERRA Lavender) in your fabric softener cup or add when you would normally add softener. I promise your clothes won’t smell like feet when they are done and vinegar actually helps to prevent colors from running, too. I pay about $2-3 for almost two gallons at my local supermarket.
- Wash your clothes in cold water and dry on the cool or low setting. It’s simple, and may take slightly longer to dry, but does wonders and minimizes wear on your clothes.
- Air-dry your synthetic fabrics. They cause a lot of your static cling.
That’s it! Enjoy the fresh smell of essential oils in your soft, chemical-free laundry!
†Ingredient information is from the International Dermal Institute, www.dermalinstitute.com