I. LOVE. NICE SMELLING LAUNDRY.
Laundry is hands-down my favorite chore. It’s not dirty or messy, and I find taking a pile of warm clothes or linens out of the dryer and making a nice neat stack extremely satisfying.
Part of this routine always includes sticking my face right into that warm pile and taking a deep breath. I literally shudder when I think about what I was infusing into my system with every inhale x a gajillion loads of laundry.
Between the scented detergent and fabric softener I was doing all kinds of damage that I didn't have a clue about, and part of my “ditch and switch” over the past few years has seen a not-so-fond farewell to those nefarious laundry staples.
Toxins in Laundry Boosters & Softeners
Fabric softeners almost always contain artificial fragrances, which are a class of more than 3,000 chemicals, some of which are carcinogenic and harmful, and as many manufacturers don't list these fragrances, it’s impossible to know which of those 3,000 chemicals are in your softener wash!
More than 95% of all of the chemicals in fake fragrances are derived from petrochemicals, including benzene, aldehydes, phthalates, and a slew of other known toxins that are capable of causing cancer, birth defects, nervous-system disorders and allergies, some of which are cited on the EPA’s hazardous waste list. – Maria Rodale, Huff Post
Phthalates are small particles of plastic (boo!) that bind the fragrance molecules together. They are known for causing endocrine disruption (harm to your thyroid, pituitary gland, adrenals, and hormones such as estrogen and testosterone). They are small enough for us to breathe in while we are both wearing the clothes and while the clothes are being washed and dried.
Artificial fragrances don't actually remove odors and can leave you thinking your clothes are cleaner than they actually are. They also contain VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) which along with formaldehyde and phthalates, are released into the air as the clothes are washing and drying, polluting the air we breathe.
Study – Scented Laundry Products Release Carcinogens
In a study published in the Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health journal, scented laundry products were tested in two different homes.
Their analysis found more than 25 “volatile” air pollutants – including the carcinogens acetaldehyde and benzene. Here are some of the health effects of VOC’s and artificial fragrances:
Eye, nose and throat irritation
Headaches, loss of coordination and nausea
Damage to liver, kidneys and central nervous system
Some can cause cancer in both animals and humans
Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
Quaternary ammonium compounds (quats) coat fabric in a film to make them feel soft and wearable. They can trigger asthma and may also be endocrine disruptors.
Benzene causes leukemia and other blood cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. Acetaldehyde has been shown to cause nasal and throat cancer in animal studies.
According to the EWG.org, to know if your softener contains Quats, check for these ingredients and avoid them: distearyldimonium chloride, diethyl ester dimethyl ammonium chloride, variants of hydroxyethyl methyl ammonium methyl sulfate or the vague terms “biodegradable fabric softening agents” and “cationic surfactant.”
Natural Laundry Booster and Softener Recipe
6 cups Epsom Salts
6 cups Super Washing Soda
Mix the ingredients together and break up any clumps in the Epsom salts with your hands.
For High Efficiency washers, you need 2 tbsp and for non High Efficiency washers, use 1/4 cup. Pour the mixture into the washer drum itself and not into the laundry softener compartment.
As I always have empty bottles of oils, I will often put a few that go well together into a jar with the Epsom salt and let it sit for a few days. This really infuses the salt with the oils; I’ll remove the empties and add the baking soda to mix.
Some of my fave combos – would love to hear yours!
Bergamot + Lavender
Rosemary + Orange
Cinnamon + Citrus
Adding wool dryer balls will also help with softening your clothes, and save on energy costs as the balls reduce drying time - winner, winner!
To scent your dryer balls simply place a few drops of your favorite essential oil onto each ball. I love Lavender, Eucalyptus, Citrus and Rosewood.
Let me know what you try!