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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 knew, not to use softener, but thanks to your article, I learned a lot about how they work and why they are not good for diapers.

    susanne wedel on
  • If I use fabric softeners on other laundry, will there be build-up in the machine that will then get on the diapers??

    Katharine Ponczoch on
  • Thanks! I’m thinking about giving these a try!

    Tiffany on
  • Thank you for further details on why fabric softener is bad for cloth diapers. I did not know about the residue in your washer and dryer either. I am hope the holiday travel did not harm my duo wraps.

    Laura B. on
  • Thanks so much for the DIY dryer balls link! It’s on my to-do list…!

    Mandy S on

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