Thursday, May 31, 2012

Benzyl Acetate & Chloroform in my Dryer?

So what's with these dryer balls? I mean it's a ball made out of wool or plastic/rubber-like material and you throw it in your dryer...and that's supposed to do what? and how? Before I entered the cloth diaper world, I never knew about these Dryer Balls. But there seemed to be so many people giving away these dryer balls on their blogs, and I wanted to know what all the excitement was about!

Dryer balls are a reusable alternative to fabric softener and dryer sheets. All you do is throw the balls into your dryer with your clothes or diapers like you would a dryer sheet (no dryer sheets for diapers though). That's it! I say "that's it..seems too easy and cheap?" So I started my research (as always) to see what I could find out. 

The most interesting thing I found out about the use for dryer balls is not in the actual balls themselves, but is in the dryer sheets and fabric softeners on the market today. You see many people believe that all the chemicals in these fabric softeners contain harmful substances that when on our body every day (clothes) could potentially cause long term damage. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and industry-generated Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) released in the 90's, most of the chemicals in fabric softeners are untested together. This is SCARY. Check out this blog article by Life Natural. In the article they list many ingredients and their potential risks:

  • Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer.
  • Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant.
  • Ethanol: On the EPA's Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders.
  • Limonene: Known carcinogen.
  • A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage.
  • Ethyl Acetate: A narcotic on the EPA's Hazardous Waste list.
  • Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders.
  • Chloroform: Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic.
  • Linalool: A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders.
  • Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled.
Wow! Does that list not scare you? In addition to all of these chemicals, dryer sheets or fabric softeners are loaded up with chemical fragrances too. Just think about it...unless you are walking around all day in the nude, these chemicals are in close contact with your body, sometimes 24 hours a day! Look what Life Natural also says about this close contact with our body:

"Dryer sheets are designed to stay on clothing for a long period of time and slowly release their chemicals throughout the day, which leads to prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals. The toxins in dryer sheets and their chemical fragrances enter the body both through inhalation or are absorbed through the skin."

While I have not found any studies that directly link specific disorders or diseases to dryer sheets or fabric softeners, the risk is always there (as with many other products too, there are always risks). Some say that Alzheimer’s is on the rise because of the increasing amount of chemicals that we are exposed to on a daily basis. 

But in the age of convenience and efficiency, we seek to do everything as quickly as possible because of our busy lifestyles. It seems that these dryer balls might be a simple solution for both a busy yet natural lifestyle!

Here is some of the subjective information I found. Hopefully it will be an intro to these dryer balls.

Wool vs. Plastic/Rubber Dryer Balls

  • More quiet in dryer
  • All natural material
  • May transfer wool fibers onto clothes
  • May transfer colors within the wool onto your clothes
  • More loud in dryer
  • Sometimes gives off a plastic-like smell when hot
  • Some are made out of synthetics which contain chemicals
  • The balls may "beat up" your clothes, allowing for a shorter lifespan
  • May cut drying time by 25% =  decrease in electric bill
  • Clothes tend to be less wrinkled = less ironing
  • Clothes or diapers tend to be softer after using dryer balls
How do the Dryer Balls Work

The shape and weight of the ball allows for it to "get in between" laundry, separating it. This separation allows the clothes/diapers to dry more efficiently. It also helps prevent the wet laundry from clinging together, decreasing the drying time.

And Me...

I don't like the sound of all those  chemical on my clothes, and the babies clothes! I am thinking of switching, and would really like to try the Wool Dryer Balls as they are more natural, and even easy to make yourself. I will be looking up some tutorials online and let you know how I make out! Maybe if I get good enough, I will even do a video tutorial. With all the hype about these dryer balls, I am excited to see if they work as well as their reviews!

Do you use dryer balls? If so do you use wool or the plastic-like ones?

Do you think that they work as well as they claim to work?


  1. I just made the switch from Free & Clear dryer sheets to wool dryer balls a few weeks ago and while I can't honestly say I have noticed any difference at all in drying time (1 have 6 tennis ball sized wool dryer balls in use), I do enjoy the fact that they are reusable and do not contain chemicals at all. You will notice the noise from them bouncing around, but it doesn't seem to bother anyone in the house. The best part is the game my 4 year old has made in finding the dryer balls in the laundry basket (they will get buried in clothes) and dumping them back in the dryer for the next load. Hope you have crafty success!

    1. I was wondering about the drying time too. I agree that most packages say to use 6 balls. I love that you make it a game:-) Cute idea!

  2. I've never bought dryer sheets. I love the idea of wool dryer balls! I've just never used sheets or softener. I hate that filmy feeling sheets leave on fabric. I wonder if counter clerks at a landry mat have respirtory issues? They must inhale so much garbage.

    1. You never know! I have always used dryer sheets and am looking to change so we shall see!

  3. Since I have discovered all of the informative blogs out there I have wondered about these wool balls. Especially since so many people seemed interested in them. We haven't used dryer sheets in at least the entire time we've been together (over 5 years) because my husband (who does all of the laundry) loathes them. However I am going to have to convince him to give these wool balls a chance - if for nothing else than the lowered electric bill!

    1. You could say you are doing a trial..see how much electricity you save..check your bills..then also calculate the cost of dryer sheets vs. dryer balls and how often you have to buy them...I would love to hear the results.

  4. I use dryer balls and I dont see a decrease in drying time.Maybe it depends on how old your dryer is?Haha I donno. But I do enjoy the fact that it is chemical free! :)

  5. I saw a review of the wool dryer balls, and gosh I wish I could remember who it was that did the review. Anyway, she did a sort of "test"/experiment to see the difference in drying time. She said the results were minimal if any at all.

    I don't mind either way about drying time, it is what it is. However, I did NOT know about the dryer sheets. I feel like such a sheep! I also didn't realize what the use of dryer balls was for outside of cutting dry time. I am so glad I saw your review! I think I will look into getting some as well. :)