I am inspired to write this after a customer was in our store this week with problems with her diapers getting stinky and her baby getting a diaper rash from them. This time she brought in one of her diapers. Asked us to smell her diaper. First thing that hit me was the smell of the perfume that you get with big box commercial detergents, you know the kind, the ones with all the extra scents in them.
So I ask her, have you been using something like Dreft? No shes been using one of the detergents we sell, additive and scent free. She then informs us she line dries around 80% of the time.
I ask her, Do you use Dryer sheets when you do dry your cloth diapers? No, no dryer sheets on the diaper loads. Ahh, so you do use dryer sheets on your clothes? Yes, but not on my cloth diapers! Culprit found!
Dryer sheets leave a residue on the drum of the dryer. So even though she was not using them on her diaper loads, it was coating the inside of her dryer, and the diapers were rubbing up against them and getting coated with the residue. This is why they stank, and why her little one was getting a rash.
Our suggestion, was to cut out the dryer sheets all together. Wipe down her dryer drum with vinegar and then run a few loads of towels or sheets before running her diapers through the dryer again. If she absolutely had to use dryer sheets, then be prepared to clean the dryer, or to only line dry her diapers. I then told her there is more arguments for getting rid of dryer sheets altogether. And here are the reasons:
The Chemicals In Dryer Sheets
This information comes directly from NonToxic.com.
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.
So now you say, but I like my clothes nice and soft? Here are some alternatives to dryer sheets:
Dryer Balls – 3-4 of these in your dryer will help soften your clothes/diapers, reduce static cling, and reduce drying time by up to 25%. You can even drop a few drops of essential oils on the dryer ball, so your clothes smell good too!
Scented Dryer Sachets – Put one of these in the dryer to help make your clothing smell good.
Vinegar – Add vinegar to the rinse cycle of your wash. It will act like a fabric softener. A word of caution here. Do not do this on your PUL covers and pockets. Vinegar is an acid and it will ruin the waterproof properties of your PUL. Also if you have super hard water, this can make fabrics like microfiber retain the stinkies.
Ecover Fabric Softener – This is a plant based fabric softener. A far greener choice than many on the market. Again, another word of caution. Please do not use this on your diaper loads. Any product that coats the fibers, can coat your diapers, and can cause diaper rash.