Our journey began in a way and for a reason that many families start this type of path; someone in our family had become extremely sensitive and even allergic to the everyday household products we were using.
One of our daughters, Flower Girl, had become allergic to the dyes and scents used in so many of today’s cleaning and personal care products. One of the biggest culprits and easy things to switch out for us was starting in the laundry department. Have you ever read a bottle of laundry detergent? Or fabric softener?
- NPE (nonylphenol ethoxylate)
- Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)/sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
These are just four, 4! of the harmful ingredients found in common everyday laundry detergents. In addition to the uncomfortable allergy systems(itchy rashes, watery eyes) they were causing, I learned that these and many other ingredients in detergents can cause the following health issues:
- Biochemical or cellular changes
- Developmental/reproductive toxicity
- Endocrine disruption
- Irritation of the skin and eyes
- Organ toxicity
- Possible mutations
Um, thanks but no thanks! I personally wouldn’t want to have any of my kids walking around on a daily basis breathing in fumes from known carcinogens, or having clothing covered in toxins that will possibly disrupt their developmental or reproductive system rubbing against their sensitive skin! What’s a Mama to do?
Our first step was dropping the fabric softener all together and hanging clothes outside to dry whenever possible. This helped dramatically with the itching and skin rashes. Hanging clothes outside has many benefits: it gives you a dose of vitamin D, you get fresh air, you have an excuse to just stand and bask in the warm sun, it is good for your clothes, they smell fresh. However, with our lovely, freezing and snowy winters here New England it would not be possible to do year round. For a few months we used nothing in the dryer, but this caused extreme static cling and our clothes lacked a freshly washed smell.
So we tried the Pinterest hack of throwing in a sponge/rag (or 2) soaked in vinegar into the dryer. And then we tried them with vinegar AND essential oils, and that worked for a time. But to be honest, I didn’t love it. I found it tedious, the girls almost NEVER remembered to put the sponges back in the jar. Or they dripped it all over the dryer. Now I am not saying this idea wouldn’t work for your family, it just wasn’t for us. If you think it sounds doable for yours, please try it!
I broke down and bought some “dye-free”, “scent-free” dryer sheets. The results were mixed. The pre-made dryer sheets are more convenient than a soaked sponge or rag and the girls could just throw them out, so no need to find them every time I tried to do laundry. Skin irritation was kept to a minimum. Yet they were still questionable ingredients used in these sheets and the cost for our family was quite a bit more than what we paid for cancer causing dryer sheets.
One day I was browsing through an online catalog for products that an acquaintance was selling in one of those MLM companies and stumbled across the answer! Well, ok, to be honest, I was skeptical at first and really didn’t want to spend the money to try it out, but I did. Wool Dryer Balls. Have you heard of these? Have you seen them? Have you tried them? Do you love them? They are reusable. They can be used just by themselves. You can add several drops of your favorite essential oil and have your clothes smell like citrus. Or pine. Or lavender. Or whatever you want them too! I will be honest, if you are looking at buying multiple balls right up front, it will be pricey. But remember, you can reuse them and reuse them and reuse them and…well, you get the idea. The ones I have now I have had for at least 2-3 years.
Hanging clothes outside is still the BEST drying technique, after all the sun is a natural germ killer and good at bleaching. If you are worried about your clothes fading, simply hanging them inside out. Drying clothes outside is also free…which is awesome. Yet there are those months or rainy days when we simply can’t hang them out. If the dryer is used we now have several wool balls that we can use to help dry our clothes. Sometimes I remember and add some essential oil to them, but not always. More often than not I have to go hunting upstairs for them because none of us remembered to take them back to the dryer, but we are getting better about taking them out and NOT putting them in the laundry basket. 🙂
That’s how we solved the fabric softener issue for our house. Check back for Part 2 – How we changed our laundry detergent. Have you gotten away from harmful dryer sheets or fabric softener? I would love to hear what you use…comment below and let us hear what works for you!