Fabric softeners are very popular in the United States, with sales in 2018 at around $2.07 billion.
It’s easy to see why so many people include fabric softeners in their wash, they make your clothes smell better and fresh, they help to prevent static, and help with wrinkles.
However, studies show that fabric softeners can, in fact, be bad for you and your health. Keep reading to find out why you should ditch your fabric softener and what fabric softener alternatives you can use instead.
Is Fabric Fabric Softener Good?
Fabrics softeners are used worldwide by thousands of people because they can help to reduce wrinkles in your clothes, make ironing easier by lowering the fabric friction, and they help to reduce the time it takes for your clothes to dry.
Other people like to use fabric softeners because they help to make your clothes smell fresher and because they can help to keep your clothes color.
So if you are asking ‘is fabric softener useful?’ Yes, they are, they can help save you time and make your clothes smell better.
However, there are two sides to every story and if you are also asking ‘is fabric softener bad?’ Then yes, fabric softener can also be bad for your health and your clothes.
5 Health-Related Reasons to Stop Using Fabric Softener
Fabric softeners can be bad for your health. Fabric softeners can cause skin irritations and can cause problems breathing, so maybe it is time to ditch the fabric softener and find an alternative.
Don’t believe us? Here are 5 health-related reasons why you need to stop using them.
1. Harmful Quats
One of the biggest concerns experts have is the harmful ‘quats’, or quaternary ammonium compounds. Quats make clothing feel softer, however, studies have found that they can trigger asthma and could even be harmful to humans reproductive systems.
If your fabric softener label has any of these ingredients then it means that it has harmful chemicals such as quats: distearyldimonium chloride, diethyl ester dimethyl ammonium chloride, hydroxyethyl methyl ammonium, or if it says biodegradable fabric softening agents.
2. Nasty Fragrances
The fragrances in your fabric softener may make your clothes smell good, but the chemicals such as phthalates that help to create this scent can be very harmful to your body.
The ingredients that help to make your fabric softener smell good can cause allergies, skin irritations, respiratory problems, and reproductive harm. Many ingredients in fabric softeners aren’t even listed on the labels because the companies know that the chemicals involved are harmful.
Research suggests that scents can cause more irritation when dried outside because the chemicals in the fabric softener can mix with the chemicals in the air. This is particularly harmful to people who suffer from asthma.
3. Damaging Preservatives and Colors
The ingredients in fabric softeners that help to preserve your clothes and keep your clothes the same color they were when you first bought them can be very harmful to your body.
Methylisothiazolinone and glutaral are two of the ingredients that help to preserve your clothes and their color, and it is believed that they can irritate your skin and trigger asthma attacks.
Some chemicals in fabric softeners have also been linked to cancers. For example, the ingredient benzyl acetate has been linked to pancreatic cancer.
4. Worrying Waxy Chemicals
The ingredients that make your clothes feel so soft when you use fabric softeners have a damaging effect on the wicking of clothing. This means that odors and stains are locked into your clothes because of the waxy chemicals.
Not only do these waxy chemicals make your clothes smell worse and stain easier, but they also can clog your skin pores. Clogged skin pores can lead to spots and acne, and skin irritations.
5. Flammable Clothing
The harmful chemicals in fabric softeners can also enhance your clothing’s risk of setting on fire. The chemicals can make your clothes more flammable. Cotton clothes are more at risk than synthetics.
The Consumers Union did tests on liquid fabric softeners in rinse cycles and the results showed that adding fabric softener significantly increased the flammability of the clothes than those clothes without fabric softener.
Fabric Softener Alternatives
Don’t despair, there are alternatives to fabric softeners that can have the same wonderful effects on your clothes without all the harmful chemicals. If you want to protect you and your family from chemicals then you need to try these methods now.
White Vinegar and Baking Soda
White vinegar can do very similar things that fabric softeners can do, it just doesn’t contain all the harmful chemicals.
Simply add some white vinegar to your wash, the same way you would a fabric softener. White vinegar can soften fabrics, kill odors, brighten your clothes, remove additional soap and detergent debris, and minimize linen or pet hair.
If you are air drying your clothes then adding some white vinegar can also help to keep the wrinkles away from your clothes. White vinegar can also reduce the amount of static on your clothes. The best part is your clothes won’t smell of vinegar once they are cleaned and dry.
Add half a cup of white vinegar and a quarter of a cup of baking soda to your wash during the rinse cycle and enjoy all the benefits of fabric softener without the harmful chemicals.
Fabric softeners aren’t the only household product that you need to worry about. Did you know that some dishwasher detergents are packed with harmful chemicals too? If you want to eat off cleaner plates, then check out this detergent booster.
Always Check the Label
Harmful chemicals are everywhere and they could even be causing you health-related problems that you aren’t aware of.
Remember to always be smart when checking the label and if you aren’t sure about any of the ingredients, opt for a simpler alternative for your cleaning.
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