Are You Washing Your Clothes in Chemicals?

Dryer Sheets, Softeners and Sprays! Oh My!

With all the time-savers available to us these days, how is it that most of us still seem to have so little of it? Take our moms and grandmothers, for example. They probably needed an entire day just to launder and iron shirts, dresses and blouses. But now? I venture to guess that many of us may not even own an iron, preferring instead to rely on fabric softeners, dryer sheets and/or wrinkle-removing sprays to prevent or remove unsightly creases from our clothing.

laundryIf this is you, it’s nice to have these “iron alternatives,” isn’t it? They do save time and energy—not to mention valuable space in your laundry room! But did you know that some of these products come with a hidden cost? Many of these them may contain harmful chemicals that could be putting your health, as well as your family’s, at risk.

Because your clothes come into direct contact with your skin, it’s important to be aware of the chemicals you may be inadvertently coating them in.

Here’s a quick overview of a few of the questionable chemicals found in some of the most popular laundry products on the market today:

Synthetic “Fragrances”

fragranceMost fabric softeners, dryer sheets and wrinkle release sprays include this mysterious ingredient. But the specific chemicals included in “fragrance” are not legally required to be disclosed, so who knows what this term really means? “Fragrance” is often a convenient category allowed by regulatory agencies and used by major manufacturers to cloak a variety of harmful chemicals, like phthalates, so the public remains unaware. The best advice is to scan labels and look for natural fragrances or none at all.

Synthetic Dyes

dyesWhile it may seem strange that a laundry product would contain a dye, you’d be surprised. Ingredients like the food coloring Red 40 Lake are found in Downy Wrinkle Release spray, and Liquitint™ Blue can be found in detergents like Tide HE. Dyes have been known to trigger chemical sensitivity, resulting in contact dermatitis, stuffy noses, headaches and other symptoms. Look for products that contain no dyes.


parabenIncluding butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben—some researchers have expressed concern about these chemicals, used as preservatives in not only laundry products but also personal care products. They have been shown to mimic estrogen and have been found in breast cancer tumors. Scan your labels to make sure your laundry products don’t have these ingredients.

While we appreciate the value of most time-saving products at our disposal today, it’s also wise to be aware of the chemicals that can lurk in products like fabric softeners, dryer sheets and some wrinkle-removing sprays.


Do you remember to research and check labels of the products you use on your family’s clothes? We’d love to hear from you. Just leave a comment below.


Even homemade wrinkle release recipes that include fabric softeners could be adding chemicals to your clothing!


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