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Why Avoid Fabric Softeners

Fabric softeners work by coating your laundry with oils and other ingredients that stay on the fabric, leaving it soft and static free. But it also leaves a water-repelling residue and possible carcinogens on your laundry. Fabric softener will also deposit on the inside of your dryer or washer; so if you use fabric softener on your other laundry, the softener will deposit on the cloth diapers when they are washed and dried. The residue will make your cloth diapers less absorbent, as well as deteriorating any water-proof laminate. The residue can usually be removed, but damage to laminate is irreversible. To remove residue, run three hot wash cycles with a cloth diaper safe detergent followed by a rinse. Prevention is the best option, helping you to avoid frustration and wasted money and resources. There is another option to keep your laundry soft when using the dryer. Wool Dryer Balls In the quest for a non-toxic solution to save resources and avoid fabric softeners, the wool dryer ball was created. The wool dryer balls work by bouncing around in the dryer and “beating” the contents, allowing the warm air to circulate into the fibers of the laundry. This can reduce the drying time by 25-45%! Wool is a natural material that has zero toxins. These dryer balls are fragrance free, non-toxic, and naturally anti-bacterial. You will typically need from 4-6 wool dryer balls for your dryer. Here are some great made in the USA options: Here is a link on how to make your own: The use of the wool dryer balls will save you time and money as they are known to reduce drying time, and have no cost after the initial purchase. Note: I have used the plastic dryer balls, and they did work. However I prefer the wool dryer balls, as they are sustainable, natural, and do not make as much noise in the dryer!

Written by Sonya Choron 12/21/11

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  • I didn’t know about the residue! I guess I should stop using our liquid fabric softener on our clothes, too.

    I have dryer balls for inserts, etc., but I found these great hangers on Amazon. They’re like hanging drying racks – each one has eight clips and it comes in a three pack for $10. I use it for the covers, gLiners, Duo Diapers, wet bags, pail liners, and even my nursing bras! Since we have our own washer/dryer, I hook the hanger over the foot of the ironing board, which is folded up next to the washer. The pail liner can then drip right into the washing machine and the heat from the dryer heats the laundry room up to help everything dry faster!

    Aryn Kennedy on
  • My husband is in love with liquid softener. He’s totally on board with CD our little one in May, but I don’t know how to break this to him yet. :)

    Liesal on
  • I just purchased some wool to make my own dryer balls! I’m so excited… We switched to Charlie’s and have stopped using dryer sheets in preparation for baby #2 and cloth diapers. It’s been so easy to switch and our regular laundry is so much cleaner! Even DH greasy garage clothes come clean after a quick pre-treat with Charlies. :)

    Dee on
  • I love wool dryer balls. Scented ones are the best!

    Jennifer Rubin on
  • Hello ladies,

    Thanks for the comments!

    If you use fabric softener in the dryer with ANY of your laundry, it can end us depositing on your diapers.

    This can be a challenge with communal dryers and washers. In that case, I recommend using natural fiber diapers, as they clean better and coat less than microfiber does. Also, try to hang dry the covers for sure. You may want to hang dry all of your items in your apartment, space permitting? Maybe in a closet on some hangers with clothes pins? I know space can be tight, but “necessity is the mother of invention”. :)
    As far as holiday travel, I would do a wash in your home washing machine when you get back to make sure any residue is gone off the diapers. If you are using a clean rinsing, safe detergent, it should do the trick!
    Please feel free to email me with any questions you have at!
    :) ~Sonya

    Sonya on

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