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Nontoxic Swaps for the Laundry Room

A while back I blogged about my experience switching over to nontoxic, homemade household cleaners and the huge difference "going green" made in my respiratory health.  (If you missed it and are curious, you can find that post here.) 

Today I want to talk about ditching toxins specifically in the laundry room.  Because here’s the reality: the average laundry room hosts a smorgasbord of toxic fragrances, known endocrine disruptors, and asthma-inducing chemicals that end up polluting the air in your house (inside and out)...and you!  

Those ever-popular scented dryer sheets?  Sadly, they're one of the biggest offenders.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, so if you didn't know this already, buckle up!
(After all, knowledge is power, and when we know better we do better, right?)

What to Avoid and What to Use Instead
One of the main dangers in dryer sheets is their synthetic fragrances.  The "fragrances" label is often a cover term for a number of untested chemicals, including phthalates and galaxolide.  Phthalates are on the Environmental Working Group's list of "dirty dozen endocrine disruptors," and galaxolide is a substance that can cause toxic build-up in the body.  (Yuck!)

These chemicals have been known to cause allergies, skin irritations, difficulty breathing, and migraine headaches.  Because of their effects on the endocrine system, they also carry the risk of reproductive harm.

No thank you!  With my own personal history of allergies, asthma, and thyroid disease, these are precisely the kinds of toxins I steer clear away from.

If you do nothing else, resolve to ditch these guys, and replace them with a healthier alternative!

For the past several years, my #1 swap for dryer sheets has been wool dryer balls and essential oils.  Using these, we've had little to no issues with static cling, and we've enjoyed customizing our own fragrances by adding a few drops of our favorite essential oils to the dryer balls.

Fortunately, as more of us have become aware of the toxicity of dryer sheets, wool dryer balls have become more popular and readily available.  I found my most recent stash at Trader Joes, but I've also come across them on Amazon and even homemade versions at my local farmer's market.  

How to Use
For the average laundry load, I typically use 2 dryer balls.  Add 2-3 drops of your preferred essential oil(s) to each ball, then throw them into the dryer with your load.  (2-3 drops of oil per dryer ball is a good place to start--you can tweak that depending on the oil and how strong a scent you're going for.)

What I love about using my oils this way is that:
1)  I know they're 100% pure, plant-based, and nontoxic; thereby posing no danger of releasing harmful compounds into our home.
2)  Not only is their aroma nontoxic, but it's also beneficial to your health.  As my oils-loaded dryer balls tumble around, my dryer essentially becomes one giant diffuser.  
3) They're powerful cleansers in and of themselves, a helpful supplement and grand finale to the whole laundering process.

Top 4 Essential Oils for Dryer Balls
It gives our clothes and home a minty fresh, uplifting, and overall fantastic smell!
Left a load in the washer too long? Add a few drops of Purify to a dryer ball (or even a damp washcloth) and throw into the dryer with the rest of your load.  This "cleansing blend" (including essential oils of Lemon, Lime, Siberian Fir, and Tea Tree) helps to freshen things up and eliminate musky odors.

This "protective blend" is especially advantageous to use during cold winter months when environmental threats are high.  It's also another great option for dispelling any residual odor from items that may have experienced prolonged dampness.
 
Last but not least, this is my top choice for adding to dryer balls when laundering bed linens.  The "restful blend" (including essential oils of Lavender, Cedarwood, Ylang-Ylang, and Sandalwood) gives linens that calming, relaxing scent.

Have you ever used wool dryer balls?  Which of these essential oils would you be most likely to try in your laundry room?

P.S. If you're looking for more ideas for healthier, nontoxic household products, I've got a free download for you with my favorite DIY green cleaning recipes!  Grab your copy here.

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