The Dangers of Dryer Sheets

by heather

I don’t use dryer sheets myself, but I know a lot of people do. And, it’s not hard to see why. They make your clothes smell good, and they help prevent your socks from sticking your blouses, as well as that annoying shock you get when you’re done folding laundry and you reach for the doorknob.

What many people might not know (and until recently I didn’t either) is that dryer sheets are actually really bad for you. Why?

Because they contain a lot of chemicals that the EPA has classified as dangerous. Cancer-causing even.

And because we use dryer sheets at the end of the laundry process, these chemicals don’t get wiped off our clothes until our skin wipes them off.


Most dryer sheets are also bad for the environment. They’re an expense that, if you’re trying to save money, you could easily do without.

So, let’s look at what these chemicals are, and why they’re bad for you.

The Chemicals In Dryer Sheets

This information comes directly from

  • ALPHA-TERPINEOL– Causes CNS (Central Nervous System) disorders and is highly irritating to mucus membranes.
  • BENZYL ACETATE– Carcinogenic (linked to pancreatic cancer).
  • BENZYL ALCOHOL– Causes CNS disorders. It is irritating to the upper respiratory tract” causing “headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drop in blood pressure, CNS depression, and death in severe cases due to respiratory failure.
  • CAMPHOR– Causes CNS disorders.
  • CHLOROFORM– Toxic. It is an anesthetic and carcinogenic.
  • ETHYL ACETATE– Narcotic. This product is on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. Irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract.
  • LINALOOL– Narcotic. Causes DNS disorder, respiratory disturbances.
  • PENTANE-“Danger-Harmful if inhaled; extremely flammable.

If you’d like to read the original EPA report on these hazardous chemicals (their report covers 31 common household items including, of course, dryer sheets and fabric softener), you can download it here.

Green Alternatives To Dryer Sheets

Ok, so hopefully you’re convinced that your box of Bounty or Snuggle might not be so good in your laundry. What can you use instead?

Well, the cheapest, and greenest, option, is to ditch using dryer sheets altogether.

If you love not having clingy clothing, however, you can try one of these green options:

  • Fill a small cloth sack with dried herbs like lavender or basil. This will help scent your laundry.
  • Purchase some essential oils like lavender, sandalwood, or mint. Drip a few drops on a cloth, and throw it into the dryer with the rest of your clothes.
  • If you’re worried about cling, then add one or two tablespoons of vinegar to your washing machine’s rinse cycle. This will help the wrinkles fall out in the dryer. You can also try adding 1/2 cup of baking soda to your rinse cycle if the vinegar doesn’t do the trick.
  • There are several green dryer sheets out on the market. One is Mrs. Meyers Clean Day. They list all the ingredients on their website, and the sheet is biodegradable.
  • You can also check out 7th Generation’s Fabric Softener. Like Mrs. Meyers, they fully list their ingredients on their site. Plus if you create an account with 7th Generation, you get access to some great coupons.
  • Ecover is another company that makes eco-friendly cleaning products including fabric softener and laundry detergent.

I must say that doing research for this article really opened my eyes about the dangerous chemicals found in our laundry cleansers. It’s amazing to me that there’s no regulation by the government on any of this; we’re all dependent on each other when it comes to finding this stuff out.

Fortunately, it’s an easy problem to fix. We can simply green up our laundry room by not using these dangerous chemicals and opting for safer alternatives instead.

Republishing Policy:

Like this post? Great! You’re welcome to reprint anything that’s posted on, as long as you link back to the original article. Please see my Republishing Policy for more information.

{ 7 trackbacks }

account central |
November 29, 2008 at 11:10 am
household items |
November 29, 2008 at 11:32 pm
Green Cleaning Tips: Reusing What You’ve Got | The Greenest Dollar
December 5, 2008 at 9:41 am · Nothing works! The Do-Nothing method to natural, healthy skin
September 1, 2009 at 1:32 am
Planning, Parties, Payments, & Planning : 101 Dead Armadillos
April 7, 2010 at 11:24 pm
How To Make Your Own Dryer Pillows | The Greenest Dollar
April 15, 2010 at 11:11 am
FFL – 10 Handmade Gifts Ideas for Ladies (a mom, sister or girlfriend) | ooshela (oo-shuh-luh)
November 19, 2010 at 6:21 pm


Michael Connolly February 8, 2009 at 5:52 pm

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The dose makes the poison.

Using dryer sheets won’t impact your health. Not everything natural is healthy and not everything healthy is natural. Get over your irrational fear for of all things made in a lab and embrace the marvels of modern science.

And while I’m trolling (I found this post by accident) for those of you that think everything should be grown “sustainably,” by which you mean organically, which third of the world’s population would you choose to die? Or did you think that organic farming would produce the same output per acre as bio-engineered crops?

If you people were to ever succeed in banning the use of genetically modified crops, you would inadvertently cause the worst famine in human history.

When you think “green,” think Norman Borlaug (look him up) not Ralph Nadir.

Angie July 7, 2009 at 8:23 am

I love the phrase “you people”, like they have a disease because they have opinions- just maybe not YOUR opinion. I hear this used for anything different; religion, environmental issues, raising kids, etc. If we all do our part in our little piece of the world, it WOULD be a better place to live. Dryer sheets. Like them or don’t. There are bigger issues in the world but this page was about dryer sheets.

heather July 7, 2009 at 8:59 am


You rock. Seriously. I couldn’t have said it better myself! 🙂

Grover February 3, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Gnarly stuff. I haven’t used dryer sheets for years but when sharing an apartment building dryer you can’t help pick some of this gunk. I air dry what I can but there are limitations to my balcony space.

mike May 10, 2010 at 9:41 am

interesting points…
guess it boils down to “trade-offs”… energy is a big one we are arguing now. Do we drill in the gulf and risk environmental disaster? Do we make ourselves more dependent on foreign oil? Do we build wind turbines though they may block a pristine view?

on dryer sheets – the health thing & chemicals are a bit scary. guess we’ll still use them – just not as much…

Annette Tweedel May 31, 2010 at 11:08 am

I find the smell of dryer sheets offensive. If you all only knew what was in those dryer sheets and what health problems they can bring on you would not be using them. There are alternatives.

cindy belford February 2, 2011 at 6:20 pm

i used dryel sheets in my dryer for drycleaning a cashmere coat and the coat that was beige in color came out of the dryel bag a rust color. the shoulder pads had disintegrated and turned the coat rusty colored. besides that the next day my dryer broke and stopped drying .i think it was the dryel sheets.

Melody December 20, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Hey! Thanks for the information. I really appreciated that you researched the chemicals as well. I referenced your article and linked back to you in an article (about homemade dryer sheets) that will mostly be published on 12/30/2011. Thanks again!

Dryers Reviews. March 4, 2012 at 10:45 pm

I like looking through a post that will make people think. Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!

Digna (Autumn Blues) December 30, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Great post! I found your post while searching for information on dryer sheets as I am currently working on a review on my blog for eco-friendly and chemical free Dryer Balls. Although I don’t use them often I was not aware of the amount of chemicals in dryer sheets. I was also looking to trade links as I review many eco-friendly products and am looking for similar blogs to trade links or buttons with. Send me an email if you are interested and I can also pass on the email for the company I am reviewing for, as they are looking for more bloggers for their eco-friendly product right now.

Christine May 25, 2015 at 6:44 pm

Just remember that even though companies like Seventh Generation purport to be all natural, they still contain chemicals that are harmful.
I know this as I’ve just learned that I am allergic to life (or most chemicals in common products) and Seventh Generation has chemicals that land on my list of not to use anymore.

Comments on this entry are closed.