According to the Allergy and Environmental Health Association, both liquid and dryer sheet fabric softeners are "the most toxic product produced for daily household use." Most of the popular brands of fabric softeners contain many neurotoxins (substances that are toxic to the brain and nervous system) and other types of toxins. Read my article 8 Toxins Lurking in Your Fabric Softener to learn more.
So, you're ready to forego commercial fabric softeners but you still want soft clothes. What are your options? Well, here are my 6 suggestions to detox your laundry:
1. Add a 1/2 cup of baking soda to the water in your washing machine and let it dissolve prior to adding your clothes. This is my preferred method since the baking soda acts as a water softener and helps makes clothes super soft.
2. Some people toss tennis balls or other rubber balls into the dryer with clothes. I'm not a huge fan of this method since the heat of the dryer can cause the rubber to off-gas onto your clothing. If you have an allergy to latex, this is definitely not the method for you. Plus, I wouldn't choose this method if you're drying delicate clothing items.
3. Adding a cup of vinegar to the wash water can also soften clothes but I don't find this method as effective as the baking soda technique.
4. To help with static, there's the aluminum foil ball technique. Tightly scrunch a piece of foil to form a ball. Throw it in with clothes in the dryer. There is some possible concern with increasing your exposure to aluminum (which has been linked to some brain disorders). It can also snag delicate clothes.
5. Try to keep synthetic fabrics out of the dryer since they are the culprits when it comes to static. Natural fibers like cotton, bamboo, hemp, and linen are best dried on their own.
6. And, of course there are natural fabric softeners available in most health food stores. I must admit, though, that I don't find them necessary. I try to purchase clothing made of natural fibers as much as possible and find my clothes are soft regardless whether they go through the dryer (free of fabric softeners) or are hung to dry.
As you can see, there are plenty of options when you want soft clothes and to be free of toxins.