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The Filthy Truth About Your Laundry Routine

As many are likely already aware, conventional laundry detergents are loaded with hazardous carcinogens, pollutants, and known irritants. These synthetic chemicals taint garments and run the risk of transdermal transfer, capable of inciting respiratory concern, skin allergies, developmental and/or reproductive toxicity, even cancer! If curious as to how safe (or toxic) the laundry detergent on your shelf is, utilize the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) healthy cleaning database where products are logged and ranked based on health and environmental concerns.

A lesser known, but even larger culprit of toxins in the laundry process are those seemingly innocent sheets that make clothes smell "good". Most are completely unaware of this! But that's not all that surprising considering cleaning product manufacturers are not required to list product ingredients, as they are governed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

So if ingredient labels aren’t required, how do we know what’s in the product? By studying dryer-vent emissions! In this brilliant study, a total of 29 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were found… YIKES! Seven of these VOCs included “acetaldehyde, benzene, ethylbenzene, methanol, m/p-xylene, o-xylene, and toluene,” all of which are classified as hazardous air pollutants by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (Source: Kessler). In another study, 213 commercial products were examined and fragrance products including dryer sheets produced the highest chemical concentrations which have asthma-inducing and endocrine disrupting associations (Source: Dodson).

From what little we know about laundry product ingredients, we do know dryer vents to be a potent source of indoor air pollution which can (and for many, does) provoke respiratory symptoms, migraines, and skin disorders. Without full disclosure of ingredients, how can their effects and impacts on human health and safety be sufficiently evaluated?

Honestly, just do yourself and your family a favor and ditch the coated in who-knows-what dryer sheets! Safer alternatives include:

  • using a quarter cup of white vinegar on the laundry’s rinse cycle;

  • natural fabric softener

  • using wool dryer balls in place of conventional dryer sheets;

  • dries clothes faster and more efficiently saving time & $$$

  • for a fresh scent, add a few drops of essential oils to the balls and dry with clothes five minutes before removing

  • hang-drying clothes

Stay safe, stay happy, stay healthy!



Kessler, Rebecca. “Dryer Vents: An Overlooked Source of Pollution?” Environmental Health Perspectives 119.11 (2011): a474–a475. PMC. Web. 29 Aug. 2018.

Dodson, Robin E. et al. “Endocrine Disruptors and Asthma-Associated Chemicals in Consumer Products.” Environmental Health Perspectives 120.7 (2012): 935–943. PMC. Web. 29 Aug. 2018.


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