Photo: Do eco-friendly dryer sheets exist?

Hang clothes to dry to make your clothes last longer (and save on energy bills). (Credit: Microsoft Images)

Dryer sheets were actually designed to reduce static in synthetic fabrics only. But today, most people add a sheet (or more) to every dryer load regardless of the fiber. Dryer sheets do not lend themselves to eco-friendliness because of their disposable nature and synthetic chemical ingredients. They're best avoided, so I'd suggest saving your money.

Since full disclosure of ingredients in consumer products like dryer sheets is not required by law, it's hard to know exactly which chemicals they contain. However, many people who stop using dryer sheets find they and others in their home also stop suffering from asthma-like symptoms, headaches or irritated skin.

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Simple steps to prevent static cling

  1. Hang clothes to dry, inside on a dry rack or outside on a clothesline. You'll save on energy bills and make your clothes last longer.
  2. Repeated exposure to extreme heat damages fibers and causes colours to fade. To reduce static you can also add half a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle of your washing machine.

Dryer sheets and liquid fabric softeners contain chemicals that coat your clothing, towels and bedding with a residue that never completely washes out. Even Energy Star (a program promoting energy-efficient appliances) recommends scrubbing your lint filter regularly if you use dryer sheets because they can leave a film on the filter. This film reduces air flow and, over time, can affect the performance of the motor.

The synthetic perfumes derived from petroleum-based ingredients are another concern. Once the scented air leaves your dryer vent and floats into your neighbourhood, it's increasingly causing allergic reactions in people with chemical sensitivities. That's not very neighbourly.

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