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Dryer sheets. You never really think about them. They go in your laundry when you dry your clothes. They make them smell nice, prevent static, and some even help soften your clothes. But using them in your laundry dryer – exposing them to high heats – can make them release harmful toxins that infect your clothes, the air in your home and then yourself, kids, or pets.

The main culprit comes from the added fragrances that make store-bought dryer sheets so appealing. No American law requires companies to disclose every single ingredient in consumer products; “fragrance” is a term that can stand in for any number of chemicals that the public doesn’t legally have to know about. A 2009 research study tested 6 common household products (including both air fresheners and laundry supplies), and found almost 100 unique VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), ten of which were known toxins.

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Below, you can review the results of the 2009 study that were specific to the tested brand of dryer sheet. What’s most concerning is the presence of linalool, which has been linked to immune system toxicity.

Steinemann 2009

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So how can you avoid harmful chemicals from being absorbed through your skin from your clothes and bedsheets? There’s a really simple solution. DIY Wool Dryer Balls. They’re so simple to make, release no harmful toxins, and you can add essential oils to make your clothes smell nice if you so choose. Plus wool absorbs almost three times its weight in water, which can reduce your electricity bills, the wool will also collect static from your clothes and act as a fabric softener (so you can ditch those chemicals too!). And they biodegrade when you can no longer use them (they last for at least 4-5 years!).  In other words they perform all the benefits of dryer sheets, plus some.

The one downside? Occasionally you’ll get ‘fluffies’ on your clothes. So you might want to invest in a defuzz-er or lint brush.

To make your wool dryer ball you need a few things:

  • Organic wool yarn(Natural fibers only, avoid ‘superwash’ or ‘machine washable’)
  • Essential Oils (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Fabric washer-safe bag or pantyhose
  • crochet hook

Instructions:

  1. Wrap yarn around your first two fingers a few times, then bind them in the middle with the same wool. This is your first bundle.
  2. Wrap the wool to become a sphere, wrap firmly, but not tightly, until the ball is half the size of a tennis ball, put a few drops of essential oils on the yarn here.
  3. Continue to wrap until the ball is slightly larger than a tennis ball.
  4. Cut the yarn.
  5. Take the crochet hook and work it through the ball, hook the loose end of string and pull it into the depths of the ball.
  6. Make a few of these
  7. Toss the wool balls into your small, dryer safe bag (those bra protecting bags that let you put your bra in the dryer, or stuff them into the legs of old pantyhose.
  8. Put them in a hot water wash (sheets, or towels with light colored wools or jeans for brightly colored wools) with a cool or cold water rinse. You might need to repeat this step a few times. (They’re going to shrink. It’s okay).
  9. Throw them in them dryer.
  10. PRESTO! Your dryer balls are now ready for use. Chuck one or two or three in at a time.
  11. Whenever they need more scent, add a few drops of essential oils to the outside of the ball. Two or three drops should do it.

 

 

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