Green Your Fabric Softener

April 8, 2012 View all articles in Home

The whole point of doing the wash is to get your laundry clean, right? But clean laundry isn't always enough: we want our laundry to be cuddly soft and to smell fruity or as fresh as a spring rain. Sure, we can do laundry less often if it still smells good, said the dorm room dwelling bachelor, but if you can still smell the fabric softener on your clothes and linens, the chemicals like chloroform, benzyl acetate, and toluene are still rubbing off on your skin.

The chemicals found in liquid fabric softeners and dryer sheets are probable human carcinogens, suspected kidney, liver, and respiratory toxicants, as well as hazardous air pollutants. Some can even make certain fabrics more flammable and void the warranties of many new dryers because they clog lint traps and vents. Even reusable laundry balls aren't without fault, as they're typically made from plastic PVC and could be off-gassing harmful plastic softeners onto your clothes.

The phosphates in fabric softeners also act as algae fertilizers that deplete the oxygen supply of water and effectively kill fish and other aquatic life. And finally, the synthetic fragrances in softener formulas drain out of washing machines and into groundwater, where they can not only contaminate drinking water supplies, but further negatively impact aquatic life.

Eco-friendly fabric softeners replace the synthetic chemicals found in traditional softeners with natural and plant based ingredients, and less fragrance oil. Here are a few brands you can choose from.


Ecover Ecological Fabric Softener is made with plant based and mineral ingredients that are completely biodegradable with no impact on aquatic life. In addition, this product is packaged in an innovative, 100 percent recyclable and renewable PlantPlastic™ bottle that not only cuts out the need for petrochemicals, but is made from responsibly harvested sugarcane!

Seventh Generation Liquid Fabric Softener softens and reduces static without the use of animal-derived ingredients but with plant-based technology and a non-toxic, biodegradable formula that's free of dyes and synthetic fragrances.

Mountain Green Free & Clear Fabric Softener is made with all natural, plant-derived ingredients and is 100 percent scent-free with no masking agents or tallow. Its ingredients include purified water plus natural and biodegradable plant-based cationic fabric softening agent.

Sun & Earth Green Fabric Softener is made with a natural, hypoallergenic, non-toxic formula that consists of canola oil softener, natural oil fragrance, preservative, and water. The formula is also vegan and free of gluten, casein, soy, and tree-nuts.

Homemade fabric softener is also a human- and Earth-safe alternative to synthetic brands. Simply add some baking soda to our water-filled washing machine (before filling it with clothes), and then pour in 1 cup vinegar during the rinse cycle. You can create your own aromatic scent by adding 10 drops of an essential oil to a damp cloth that you throw in your dryer. The damp cloth also fights static cling.


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