Fabric softener fights static cling, adds fresh scent to laundry, and is said to expose the human body to harmful chemicals. Is fabric softener toxic?
Fabric Softener is Toxic!
According to Dan Sevigny from the Alternative Health Journal, fabric softener is toxic. The chemicals in fabric softener with the toxic reputation are benzyl, chloroform, and others. In addition to eliminating static cling, these fabric softener ingredients are said to also eliminate bodily health. Since these chemicals permeate the clothing, they gradually enter the body via its biggest organ: the skin.
Proof that fabric softener is toxic is thought to be found in a number of symptoms: breathing difficulties, memory problems, skin rashes, dizziness, headaches, and a host of other conditions.
Fabric Softener is Toxic … or is it?
While the lore of fabric softener toxic ingredients has permeated common knowledge, there is precious little quoted science to back up the claims. Moreover, headaches, rashes, and breathing difficulties may point to a host of health concerns and are therefore not surefire means of pinpointing fabric softener toxicity. That being said, there is also no valid proof that can rule out – once and for all – that memory problems, headaches and dizziness a person experiences are not related to fabric softener use.
As Downey is heavily marketing its fabric softener scents with slogans suggestion that a sweater may actually become a scent infused refuge, manufacturer P&G publishes material safety data sheets that show nothing of worry. There is no talking of chloroform or benzyl, but only of octadecanoic acid, which is little more than stearic acid.
Fabric Softener Toxic: Yes or No?
If you believe the Grinning Planet, there is little doubt that fabric softener is toxic. The problem crops up when the reader seeks for links to the material safety data sheets that are cited – or for names of the products that supposedly contain the cancer causing chemicals. They are missing. While the blogosphere is igniting over the potential fabric softener toxicity like a wildfire, the mentioning of facts is not in keeping with the allegations.
There is, however, the little term known as “trade secret,” which may contain a lot of chemicals not listed in detail on data sheets made available to the public. While there is a possibility that harmful chemicals could be hidden there, this data could only be obtained through a whistle blower or an Environmental Protection Agency study publication. Neither of these is referenced on blogs arguing for the fabric softener is toxic theory. Does this mean it is just hype?
What is the Consumer to Do?
As a mother I am not unaffected by the question whether fabric softener is toxic. Sure, I love the smell of clean laundry, but I don’t want to kill my offspring in the process of having them leave the home smelling nice. The logical answer is to go green and be on the safe side.
Jaipi Sixbear offers advice on “How to Make Inexpensive Homemade Laundry Soap, Degreaser and Fabric Softener,” and with just a bit of baking soda and vinegar, you can soften clothes. In the alternative, you could purchase “Mrs. Meyer’s Basil Fabric Softener,” as reviewed by Lilly. This still offers the convenience of sweet scents but with a natural touch.
Finally, you may simply roll your eyes and chalk up the debate over fabric softener toxic ingredients to the blogosphere’s sprouting of urban legends — allegedly.
http://www.alternativehealthjournal.com/article/fabric_softener__toxic_/3485; http://www.downy.com/en_US/index.jsp; http://www.pg.com/content/pdf/01_about_pg/msds/fabric_and_homecare/fabric_conditioner/Downy_Dryer_Sheets_-_All_Varieties.pdf; http://webbook.nist.gov/cgi/cbook.cgi?Name=stearic+acid&Units=SI; http://www.grinningplanet.com/2004/04-29/stop-static-cling-fabric-softener-article.htm; http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1683360/how_to_make_inexpensive_homemade_laundry.html?cat=7; http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1351194/mrs_meyers_basil_fabric_softener.html?cat=6