Using fabric softeners sounds like a no-brainer. These common laundry products promise soft, fresh-smelling clothes, free of static and wrinkles, along with less stretching, fading and pilling. But in-wash fabric softeners and heat-activated dryer sheets pack a powerful combination of chemicals that can harm your health, damage the environment and pollute the air, both inside and outside your home. Healthy Child Healthy World recommends skipping fabric softeners entirely. Here are the worst chemicals to watch for in your laundry basket—and what to use instead. “Quats" Quaternary ammonium compounds make clothes feel soft and wearable right out of the wash, but they’re known to trigger asthma and may be toxic to our reproductive systems. Check labels and product websites for these ingredients: distearyldimonium chloride, diethyl ester dimethyl ammonium chloride, variants of hydroxyethyl methyl ammonium methyl sulfate or the vague terms “biodegradable fabric softening agents" and “cationic surfactant." Avoid them all. Fragrance There are more than 3,000 fragrance ingredients in common household products—and scarcely any way to know what they are. Your fabric softener may contain phthalates , which disperse the scent; synthetic musks such as galaxolide , which accumulate in the body; and much more. Fragrance mixes can cause allergies, […]

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