Though fabric softeners seem to be advantageous there are issues with the chemicals contained in these types of products. Most of the chemicals are deemed to be hazardous to one's health if misused and/or upon prolonged use and exposure. Fabric softeners may contain one or more of the following chemicals listed below with their harmful effects.
● Alpha-terpineol - causes central nervous system disorders, hypothermia, respiratory depression, headache and ataxia
● Benzyl Acetate - known to be carcinogenic; commonly linked to pancreatic cancer
● Benzyl Alcohol - causes upper respiratory tract irritation, CNS disorders, nausea, vomiting, headache, and in severe cases - death due to respiratory failure
● Chloroform - also considered as carcinogenic, neurotoxic, anesthetic and overexposure may cause kidney/liver damage
● Ethyl Acetate - irritates eyes and respiratory tract, narcotic and may cause headache, kidney/liver damage as well as anemia
● Limonene - irritant (causes eye, skin, nose and throat irritation), carcinogenic
● Camphor - CNS stimulant, causes CNS disorders (
● Ethanol - a known depressant, though not a carcinogen - it can, however, exacerbate existing cancer conditions
● Ethyl Acetate - causes irritation to the respiratory tract and eyes as well as depression of heart function - upon chronic exposure, may also cause dermatitis
● Linalool - may cause allergic reactions such as eczema
● Pentane - overexposure causes respiratory tract irritation, drowsiness and may also cause skin irritation, drying and dermatitis
The US EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) also considers some, if not most, of these chemicals as hazardous wastes. As defined, "A hazardous waste is a waste with a chemical composition or other properties that make it capable of causing illness, death, or some other harm to humans and other life forms when mismanaged or released into the environment." There are green, non-toxic alternatives to synthetic or commercially made fabric softeners, we will be featuring these environment/health friendly options in the coming weeks.