Choose natural fabric softener
Natural fabric softeners replace the synthetic, eco-unfriendly chemicals found in traditional softeners with natural and plant-based ingredients.
Find it! Natural fabric softener
Softeners do not need to be heavily scented to be effective. Various companies specialize in home-laundering products, including fabric softeners, that are nontoxic and fragrance-free or naturally scented.
This fabric softener is formulated especially for people with sensitive skin and contains selected soy-derived ingredients that completely rinse out. There are no petroleum-based ingredients, dyes, or parabens.
This company uses renewable soy or canola to make its fabric softener. The product has no dyes or synthetic fragrances and does not contain petroleum-based cleaners.
These innovative, fragrance-free dryer sheets soften clothes and reduce wrinkles. Veggie-based and biodegradable, they automatically break in two in the dryer for softness distribution throughout the load. They're also recyclable.
Before you buy
The terms "nontoxic," "environmentally friendly" or any other green reference are not regulated by any agency, but used at the discretion of the manufacturer. You can find out which environmental label claims are verified by an independent third party and which aren't by looking at The Consumers Union Guide to Environmental Labels.
Choosing natural fabric softener helps you go green because…
- You can reduce the amount of chlorine, phosphates and petroleum-based chemicals that you release into the environment and onto your skin.
Approximately $700 million worth of liquid fabric softener was sold each year in the US by the end of the 1990's, with another $400 million being spent on dryer sheets annually. Fabric softeners, like laundry detergents, contain synthetic petroleum-based chemicals. The extraction and production of petroleum has caused major environmental damage to soil, surface and ground waters, and local ecosystems, and contributes to global warming. Fabric softeners also contain synthetic fragrances, which drain out of the washing machine and into groundwater, where they can contaminate drinking water supplies and negatively impact aquatic life. Phosphates, which are used to soften water, for example, act as fertilizer for algae and encourage algae growth, which then depletes the water's oxygen supply and kills off fish and other aquatic life.
Related health issues
Fabric softeners may contain various ingredients and fragrances that can be skin or respiratory irritants, or allergens. A May 2000 study in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health reports that fabric softeners contain neurotoxins, carcinogenic chemicals like styrene, respiratory irritants, thymol, which can cause abdominal distress, and other dangerous chemicals.