May 25, 2024

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Can A Fabric Softener Make You Sick?

The number of people using fabric softeners has been growing steadily since these products were introduced. This is because fabric softeners have proven to be a no-brainer when it comes to getting the job done, which is keeping your fabric soft. They also leave behind fresh-smelling clothes, which many have insisted that help improve their confidence. Besides, fabric softeners reduce static and wrinkles on clothes as well as ensuring less fading, piling, and stretching. They have lots of benefits and that’s why some people cannot imagine doing their laundry without them. But are these products safe?

Research conducted by the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) shows that fabric softeners are more dangerous than one could possibly imagine. They are packed with all sorts of harmful chemicals ready to cause havoc on your body and even affect the environment. What’s even more frightening is that most of these chemicals are used in untested combinations.

According to EPA, these chemicals are Benzyl Acetate, Phthalates, Benzyl Alcohol, Chloroform, Linalool, Ethyl Acetate, Camphor, Limonene, and A-Terpineol, among others.

Benzyl Acetate

This chemical is always associated with pancreatic cancer. What’s more, its vapors can irritate the eyes and respiratory passages, thereby, causing coughing. Benzyl Acetate is absorbed through the skin. And this means for it to find a way into the inner parts of your body is very easy. Once it’s there, Benzyl Acetate leads to all sorts of complications to the unsuspecting victim. Continued use of a fabric softener will only worsen the situation by speeding up the “work” of Benzyl Acetate in your body.


Every day we are discouraged from buying our kids items or products containing this chemical. This is because scientists and other researchers know how deadly phthalates can be to both humans and the environment. If you think that you are miles away from being affected by phthalates, think twice. The fabric softener you use contains them! Manufacturers of fabric softeners rely on them to make the scent of their softeners last longer. But this is no good news, as phthalates have been proven to cause breast cancer, catalyze allergic reactions, and cause respiratory system complications.

Benzyl Alcohol

As opposed to the first two products we have talked about, Benzyl Alcohol does not cause cancer. But this does not make it less dangerous. Studies show that it is an upper respiratory tract irritant that can make you uncomfortable in several ways. It causes CNS (Central Nervous System) disorders, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache, and incredible drops in blood pressure. Well, these are illnesses you do not want to be associated with because they are more than capable of bringing an abrupt end to your stay here on earth.


Chloroform is not on EPA’s Hazardous Waste list by mistake. This chemical is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. It is neurotoxic, carcinogenic, and anesthetic. When chloroform is inhaled in the form of vapors, you may suffer from dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, irritation of respiratory system, nausea, and even loss of consciousness. As if that’s not enough, chloroform catalyzes heart disorder, liver disorder, kidney disorder, and skin disorder. It becomes a real problem when subjected to heat.


This is another chemical you do not want to play around with. In animal testing, linalool has led to death. And we believe that this is enough to send a strong warning to anyone who, up to this point, is still defensive about their favorite softener. Linalool is a narcotic, which causes respiratory disturbances and CNS disorders.

Ethyl Acetate

Like Chloroform, Ethyl Acetate is on EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. Well, this is enough to show you how dangerous it is. It causes irritation to the respiratory tract and the eyes. By so doing, Ethyl Acetate can lead to headache and narcosis. It can also cause anemia with leukocytosis. Furthermore, the liver and kidneys are not spared when Ethyl Acetate gets into your body. It completely damages them, making it an all-dangerous substance that should be avoided no matter what.


Camphor is another chemical on EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. And like some of the chemicals we have already highlighted, it causes CNS disorders. What’s more worrying about Camphor is that it is quickly and easily absorbed through body tissues. This means it is very likely to get into your body with everyday use of your favorite fabric softener. Once it is in the body tissues, camphor will be responsible for such complications as dizziness, convulsions, twitching muscles, nausea, and confusion. It also causes irritation to the throat, nose, and eyes.


Limonene is a carcinogen, which irritates the eye and the skin.


It is highly irritating to mucous membranes plus it causes CNS disorders. Ideally, should it reach the lungs, A-Terpineol can lead to pneumonia, respiratory depression, and even fatal edema.

Bottom Line

Most fabric softeners contain the above chemicals. So, if you are still wondering whether a fabric softener can make you sick, the answer is a painful yes. Nonetheless, this is not the end of everything. There are suitable alternatives, which you can rely on for chemical-free life. For instance, you can use organic wool dryers. Organic wool dryers can be purchased or made at home. The best part is they are much cheaper than fabric softeners. If you decide to make yours at home and want it to keep laundry scented, you can add a few drops of essential oils.

Other cool alternatives of keeping your laundry soft are:

  • Adding ¼ cup of baking soda to a wash cycle
  • Installing a water softener
  • Adding ¼ cup of white vinegar to rinse or wash cycle – when you do this, be keen not to use a bleaching agent at the same time
  • Using less laundry detergent for softer clothes
  • Drying clothes outside on a clothesline


We know that the last thing you want is to put your health and that of your loved ones in danger. You also want to conserve the environment and see future generations enjoy it. So, if you have been using a fabric softener to soften your clothes, it is time to switch to something healthier and more eco-friendly.