There’s a rumor going around that fabric-softening dryer sheets contain toxic chemicals that put your health at risk. While Healthline.com pushed back against these claims somewhat, more research is needed to be definite.
The largest concern is the fragrances in dryer sheets. A 2011 study published by the Environmental Health Perspectives found that many fragrance ingredients can be linked to “irritation of the eyes and airways, contact dermatitis, migraines, and asthmatic reactions.” Further, 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 14 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 simply must have a scented dryer sheet, BecauseHealth.org recommends the nontoxic alternatives of Method Dryer Sheets and Seventh Generation Dryer Sheets because they’re made with biodegradable ingredients and can be composted when you’re finished with them. Another plus for Seventh Generation, according to integrated medicine specialistic Elizabeth Trattner, AP, is that their fragrance components are listed individually (and are comprised solely of essential oils). Another option is dryer balls—many of which last longer and help to dry your clothes.
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.