Hey we all like soft clothes, but is it really worth exposing ourselves and the environment to the toxic chemicals in traditional fabric softeners? Luckily, there are a few natural and eco-friendly fabric softeners that really work.

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According to Environmental Working Group, many fabric softeners and dryer sheets contain the following chemicals that should be avoided.

  • Quaternary ammonium compounds, or “quats.” These synthetic softening agents can trigger asthma and may cause harm to reproductive systems.
  • Fragrance. Made up of over 3,000 ingredients, “fragrance” may include phtalates, galaxolide, and other chemicals that can cause “allergies, skin irritations such as dermatitis, difficulty breathing and potential reproductive harm.”
  • Preservatives and colors. Like fragrance, these vague labelling terms may include allergens like methylisothiazolinone and glutaral, or artificial colors like D&C violet 2, which has been linked to cancer.

That’s not to mention the utter waste of plastic fabric softener jugs and single-use dryer sheets. So, how about some eco-friendly and non-toxic alternatives? You may be pleasantly surprised at how cheap and easy it is to replace fabric softeners and dryer sheets.

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1) Distilled White Vinegar

Our first option is a bit of a DIY laundry hack. Toss half a cup of distilled white vinegar into your washing machine with your dirty clothes and let ‘er rip! (You can even use the cheap stuff!)

Adding vinegar to your wash does the following:

  • Brightens clothes
  • Naturally softens fabric
  • Reduce lint and pet hair
  • Strips residue left by soaps and detergents
  • Erases odors like smoke, body odor, and mildews

2) Wool Dryer Balls

Wool dryer balls do the same work as dryer sheets and fabric softeners, but are reusable for up to a thousand loads. The balls bounce around in the dryer with your clothes absorbing moisture and creating air pockets, which helps your clothes dryer quicker and more evenly.

Dryer balls can reduce drying time by 20-30%, saving time, energy and money. They also reduce static build up and contain no toxic chemicals (imagine that!). And for fresh scent, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil onto each ball. When the balls are spent, throw them in the compost bin for a zero-waste end life.

Find organic wool dryer balls right in the Emeraldology Shop!

3) Dropps Fabric Softeners

Dropps has a handful of eco-friendly fabric softeners featuring non-toxic ingredients and natural scents. The fabric softener pods come in dissolvable packets, so they are pre-measured and mess free. Just plop a pod into the washer and let ‘er rip!

The Dropps ships in compostable packaging and offsets is shipping emissions through a partnership with 3Degrees. The fabric softener pods are made with primarily plant-based ingredients.

Get 15% off all Dropps products with promo code emerald15.

Lavender Eucalyptus scented fabric softener pods. Image source.

4) Public Goods Fabric Softener Sheets

If you’re not ready to completely give up on dryer sheets, Public Goods’ non-toxic dryer sheets provide an eco-friendly alternative. The sheets are made entirely of plant-based ingredients with no synthetic fragrances.

In addition, they’re compostable and hypoallergenic, safe for both humans and the planet!

80 sheets cost just $4.50 — just as affordable than big brand sheets.

fabric softeners
Not the fanciest packaging, but these plant-based strips get the job done! Image source.

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5) Eco Friendly Fabric Softeners on Etsy

Etsy is a wonderful marketplace for eco-friendly and handmade goods. The site features unique goods from small businesses and offsets all shipping emissions and packaging waste.

Now, I can’t vouch for ALL of these products, but here are some fabric softeners that might be worth a shot:

Feature photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash