Here is a laundry list for you, some of the many toxic chemicals in fabric softeners and laundry sheets:
A-TERPINEOL: Causes respiratory issues, edema, and damages the central nervous system.
BENZYL ACETATE: Linked to pancreatic cancer, causes respiratory problems.
BENZYL ALCOHOL: Damages upper respiratory tract.
CAMPHOR: Damages central nervous system.
CHLOROFORM: Carcinogen and neurotoxin.
ETHANOL: Damages central nervous system, listed by EPA as Hazardous Waste.
ETHYL ACETATE: Also on EPA's list as Hazardous Waste list, narcotic.
LINALOOL: Damages central nervous system, narcotic.
PENTANE: Causes respiratory damage.
PHALATE: Common in fragrance and scented products, phalates are linked to various cancers, birth defects, and reduced sperm count.
Does that sound like a fresh summer breeze to you? I don't know why this is legal, especially since the Environmental Protection Agency recognizes most of it as hazmat. Children are particularly vulnerable to this chemical exposure and if you are using these products, they and you are getting it pumped into your bloodstream via skin and lungs constantly. Health issues involving the central nervous system include MS, ADHD, Parkinson's Disease, SIDS, Stroke, Alzheimer's, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, and many many more.
I remember once cutting short a visit to friends of mine because I couldn't sleep on their sheets. I never told them the real reason why I had to leave because I didn't want to hurt their feelings, but I left with a raging migraine and it's interesting to note that one of them is a physician. For those of us who do not use chemical fragrance, we can smell it the same way a non smoker smells smoke. It gets on our clothes if we hug someone who's used it, it can trigger asthma attacks, migraines, nausea, and more. It's just as bad if you are exposed to it via someone's dryer duct. The EPA has called it air pollution!
Fragrances are masking the smells of harsh chemicals and they are marketing that as fresh and clean. Whether the smell bothers you or not, you are being exposed to some bad stuff that damages your health. Isn't it counter intuitive to wash your clothes in dangerous chemicals in an effort to get them clean and fresh?
So. What would be a good alternative? If you want bottled fabric softener, you can get non toxic varieties at your local co-op and stores like Whole Foods, and even delivered right to your door via Amazon. I love their subscribe and save programs which are convenient and save me money. I also really love soap nuts which naturally soften clothes while they wash. If you want your laundry to have a scent, lavender and other essential oils are ideal and there are many recipes online for making your own non toxic fabric softeners.
Image Credit: Photochiel