Naama Elitzur/ShutterstockThere’s a rumor going around that fabric-softening dryer sheets contain toxic chemicals that put your health at risk. Snopes has mostly debunked the claim, although the fragrances in dryer sheets may still be questionable. The Federal Trade Commission doesn’t require dryer sheet manufacturers to identify their fragrance ingredients, and there are at least 3,000 potential chemicals they can use—some of which are safe, and some of which may not be. (Here are 12 more things you should never, ever toss in your dryer.)
That’s why some experts are calling for more rigorous guidelines and labeling of fragrance ingredients. Since we don’t know for sure what’s in the scented dryer sheets, the most conservative approach would be to use the unscented versions of your current favorites. Bounce and Gain, for example, both offer unscented dryer sheets. But if you prefer a scented dryer sheet, integrated medicine specialist Elizabeth Trattner, AP, recommends Seventh Generation Dryer Sheets because they’re made with biodegradable ingredients; they can be composted when you’re finished with them. Another plus: Their fragrance components are listed individually and are comprised solely of essential oils.
Or you could try the suggestion of holistic nutritionist, Lahana Vigliano: She loves Molly Sud’s Wool Dryer Balls. “They’re non-toxic and can last up to a thousand loads, and they can even help your clothes dry more quickly.” Vigliano sometimes adds a couple of drops of essential oil to give her clothes a scent.
If you don’t want to buy dryer sheets or dryer balls, you can always use tennis balls with a few drops of essential oil, or try the organic lavender sachets from Trader Joe’s, Trattner suggests. And be sure you aren’t making any of these common laundry mistakes that could ruin your load.