Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Laundry Maid Status: Dryer Balls

This post is brought to you by Bon Iver. Listen with me.

I don't know about you, but I like my laundry to smell fresh and clean. It lets me know that my laundry is, well, clean. Like many of us, we use scented laundry detergent, fabric softener and dryer sheets to get 'that clean smell'.

Well, here's the sad part . . . 'that clean smell' can be one of the most toxic things you are bringing into your home.

Unlike food, there are no laws in place which require manufacturers of these products to list all the chemicals used. *red flag*
You'll see something along the lines of, 'biodegradable catatonics softeners". Basically the stuff that makes our laundry static-free and fluffy. A.k.a toxic chemicals.

"When people use dryer sheets, they are coating their cloths with a thin film of artificial chemical perfumes. Just like other perfumes, a person’s sensitivity to these perfumes decreases over time to the point where they don’t even notice how potent these artificial fragrance chemicals are. None of this would be interesting if it weren't for the fact that these fragrance chemicals are extremely toxic. They are known carcinogens. They cause liver damage and cancer in mammals.” Mike Adams

Read more from Mike Adams' article here. 

Here are the most common chemicals found in dryer sheets: (and this is just dryer sheets! Detergent and fabric softeners are just as bad!) 

  • Alpha-Terpineol causes central nervous system disorders. Can also cause loss of muscular coordination, central nervous system depression, and headache.
  • Benzyl Alcohol causes central nervous system disorders, headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, central nervous system depression, and, in severe cases, death.
  • Camphor on the US EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. Central nervous system stimulant, causes dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles, and convulsions.
  • Chloroform on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. Neurotoxic and carcinogenic.
  • Ethyl Acetate on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. Narcotic. May cause headaches and narcosis (stupor).
  • Linalool causes central nervous system disorders. Narcotic. In studies of animals, it caused ataxic gait (loss of muscular coordination), reduced spontaneous motor activity, and depression.
  • Pentane causes headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, and loss of consciousness. Repeated inhalation of vapors causes central nervous system depression.

Every chemical that touches the skin finds it's way into the body and eventually the bloodstream.
You can read so much more about it here, so I won't go into any more details. Seriously. Read this.

I have sensitive skin and skipped fabric softener completely, just relying on dryer sheets for smells and softens. My bad. I am changing my ways.

While we can't control every toxin in our house, we sure can control this one.

Here is the solution to dryer sheets . . . dryer balls!

Dryer balls are small balls of wool (about the size of a tennis ball) that you put in the dryer along with your laundry. Dryer balls can help your dryer run more efficiently. They fluff up your laundry, prevent clothes from clumping and increase air circulation which means that will cut down on the time it takes your clothes to dry! Dryer balls also replace dryer sheets and liquid fabric softener, which, over time, saves money. Dryer sheets and fabric softener aren't very expensive, but the same set of dryer balls can be used for years! Fabric softener makes your towels less absorbent. The chemicals in fabric softener products leaves a film behind on your clothing. It feels nice, but it actually makes your towels less effective. This isn't an issue with dryer balls. Dryer balls are biodegradable. Dryer sheets aren't. Because you'll probably never throw away your dryer balls (which are 100% wool, by the way, not a plastic-y mesh sheet) you'll use them for years. And, in the event you want to make new ones, these make fun cat toys. Or, pick them apart and spread the fibers outside so the birds can use them to build nests. Boom. Biodegradable.

Make your own!

  • fiber (I used a total of 3 oz of merino wool. The brand is Lunabudknits; I found mine at Kanawha City Yarn Company.)
  • pantyhose or a sock (I used an old pair of tights from my dancing days!)
  • scrap yarn
YOU CAN ALSO used yarn wound into balls, just make sure it is 100% wool. If it is a blend, i.e. wool/acrylic, it will NOT felt. Excellent tutorial for felted yarn balls here.

1.) Unwind your roving and cut in half.

2.) Tightly wind into balls.

3.) Using scrap yarn, fasten off each ball into a pair of hose/tights/socks.

4.) Throw into your next load of laundry. Wash and dry.

To use, sprinkle a few drops of essential oil on each ball and throw it in with your next load.

Aaaaand done.

If you prefer to just purchase your own, this brand is the best that I've found.

Quick impressions: Fluffy and dry! Check. I can definitely smell the essential oils on my clothes much more than when I just use essential oils in my detergent. The scent does linger longer. However, the static still remains. I recently washed a blanket and noticed how that static was not quite eliminated.Hmm.

Have you ever used dryer balls before? What did you think of them?

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