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In search of asthma-friendly dryer sheets or alternatives?

So I have allergic asthma, and that means I can't use an outdoor line to dry my clothes. But I still have to deal with static cling and all the other things that go along with drying clothes in a dryer. AND my asthma is triggered by perfumes and scents, too.

I haven't found a single kind of dryer sheet or fabric softener that doesn't trigger my asthma — both walking into the laundry room when I am drying clothes, and when I wear clothes that have been dried with a dryer sheet. 

Anybody got any ideas of what I can use to at least get rid of static cling? I've tried vinegar before, but even with the extra rinse, you can still smell it. And it doesn't seem to do much for static cling.

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  • Mandy

    How about wool dryer balls? I believe there are plastic ones too. Check them out online. I have Norwex brand ones and I find them helpful. Some static cling but not as bad as it'd be without it.

  • Jen

    Mandy – Thanks for the Norwex suggestion.  A friend of mine is having a Norwex party soon.  I don't know much about it, but am interested if their cleaning stuff isn't so potent.  How does the price of Norwex products compare with what you might buy in stores?

  • Mandy

    It's pricier for sure but some of the products I love. The descaler has virtually no scent and gets rid of the crud that builds up around the taps. Amazing! The cleaning paste is awesome for everything (except granite). Love the cloths and mop system. Yup there's a lot of good products  

  • K8sMom2002

    Oooh, that sounds like a win-win for me! I've been under a rock and hadn't heard of Norwex … but we have hard water down south and I have two options: learn to love less than sparkly taps or sacrifice my lungs. 

    Either of you have a link that I can look at tonight?

  • Jen

    Cynthia – I haven't used it before.  I've only seen a few friends post about it on Facebook.  I may consider looking into it.

  • K8sMom2002

    I didn't have a chance last night to google Norwex wool dryer balls, but I will keep it on my to-do list. I've actually dimly recalled something about people balling up aluminum foil?? That's another thing for me to check. 

  • Melanie Carver

    For fabric softener, I use plain white vinegar. I buy it by the gallon, and you just pour it into the fabric softener spot on your washer.

    To help prevent static cling in the dryer, I add a ball of aluminum foil to the load:

  • K8sMom2002

    Thanks, Mel!

    I have an added wrinkle with the vinegar — since DD is allergic to corn, we have to be really careful with white vinegar. I used to make my own cleaning supplies with it — and then she reacted to white vinegar (white vinegar is often made from corn.)

    So I switched to rice vinegar. It works just as well in cooking, though you can't pickle with it, since it's a lower acid percentage. And it works well in cleaning supplies. However, it IS more expensive. I had found a place I could order it by the gallon a bit cheaper, but they went out of business.

    The static cling is the absolute worst, though, so I will definitely try the balls of aluminum foil! One thing I'm worried about … does the aluminum foil snag more delicate clothes? Because DD has a lot of shirts that are dressier, and those are the absolute worst for the static cling. 

    Mandy, looking forward to hearing your reviews on it as well!

  • Kathy P

    Following this….I don't use dryer sheets, but dh does on his clothes. Normally, I don't care, except he uses them when he washes our bedding and towels! He was thoughtful enough to wash the bedding before he left on his trip Friday. I got home Saturday and the sheets smelled so strong that I almost couldn't sleep! I think part of it is the strong scent on the laundry detergent he uses too. Costco stopped carrying the one we used to get. He refuses to my homemade stuff 

    I add baking soda to my wash to soften things. I just add a scoop to the detergent. Sometimes I add white vinegar to the rinse, but rarely. I don't usually have issues w/ static from the dryer.

    My MIL has these nubby balls in her dryer that are supposed to stop the static.

  • .Annette

    There are reasonably priced dryer balls at Wal-Mart that work well for our family.  You just toss one in the dryer with the wet clothes and run your dryer.  Alot less money than Norwex!

  • K8sMom2002

    Oh, wow, thanks, Annette! I'll have to look — is it in the laundry detergent aisle? Do you happen to remember what brand?

    Laura Jeane, I have not been able to find unscented dryer sheets. Where do you find them? What brand?

    I've been on the verge of trying to with some  with a hair conditioner which doesn't usually trigger my asthma … but lately SOMETHING in my bathroom is making me react, and I have yet to figure it out. Needless to say, I'd rather not go to the trouble to make fabric softener if it's going to be a scent that triggers my asthma. 

  • Laura Jeanne

    I found dryer balls in both Walmart & Target, where the clothes pins and such are located. 

    Bounce has a scent free dryer sheet, but I purchase the Target Brand. I've used both. The Target Brand works just as well. 

  • Jen

    Hi Annette,

    Welcome to AAFA's asthma support forum.  Thanks for the tip on the dryer balls.  What other laundry products do you use that seem to be asthma-friendly?

  • .Annette

    I am sorry but I don't happen to remember the brand name but they were in the detergent/dryer sheet aisle.  Two came in a package and if I remember right they were under $5.  I have had mine for quite a while and they still work great.

  • .Annette

    My eight year old son has finally just last year been diagnosed with reactive airway disease so I am just getting started on products that are asthma friendly.  I found out about the dryer balls because I have been making a concentrated effort to get the chemicals out of our house as much as possible anyway.  That being said, I have used the all natural laundry detergent Ecos.  We have well water so it works well for a while and than when the make up of the water changes it doesn't get the clothes clean anymore.  When it works for us it works very well.  Think Wal-Mart carries it also.

  • Laura Jeanne

    In addition to the dryer balls and unscented dryer sheets, I've been using vinegar and Arm & Hammer makes a "FREE" laundry detergent that seems to be working for us fairly well.  Oxi-Clean, Fels Naptha bar, Shout and Greased Lightening for stains, but the last two make me sneeze so I only use them when desperate.  

    Just a tip for grease on your clothing, at Christmas my hubby got a big spotch of grease on his shirt.  Not having anything else handy in the kitchen, I used one of my grandmother's old tricks…I liberally applied corn starch & let it on his shirt for a few minutes, brush off.  Completely forgot about the grease stain until I took the shirt out of the dryer on the next wash day….grease stain GONE!

  • Jen

    Good tip about the corn starch, Laura Jeanne.  I wonder if flour might work also (just thinking of how both  can be used as thickener in cooking). 

  • Kathy P

    Ooh haven't heard of that cornstarch trick. I do use Fels Naphtha. In fact I use that to make homemade laundry detergent. I grate the bars and add Arm & Hammer washing powder and borax.  Some of the products have scents, but they are not strong and dissipate quickly. They don't linger like other detergents. I also add baking soda. Last time I tried an unscented Castile soap. 

  • K8sMom2002

    Thanks, Annette! I'll look for the dryer balls the next time I'm in Walmart. 

    I can't use cornstarch — DD has a life threatening food allergy to corn, and she reacts to cornstarch. But I'm wondering if potato starch might do the same. That's a neat trick — my mom used to advise putting dish detergent on a grease stain, but of course that won't work if you still need to WEAR the shirt.

  • Jen

    Mandy – I bought a few things at a Norwex party this weekend. I posted over in the  thread.  I'm looking forward to them being delivered so that I can see if I really feel like the purchase was worth the money.

  • K8sMom2002

    Drat … I was in Walmart Sunday, but it was a quick dash in and out, and I forgot to look for this. I may try Melanie's aluminum foil balls as a stop-gap method … 

    Annette, what other products have you found that work for your son? They may work for me, too!

  • .Annette

    I haven't tried too many other products yet, except just in general to get the chemicals out of our house, due to my son just being diagnosed with asthma in November of last year.  We are currently using Tide Free and Gentle for our detergent and it is working well so far. Just starting to try to make all the changes that need to be made.

  • K8sMom2002

    Jen, I haven't … I thought about it again over the weekend (AFTER I went to Walmart) and was folding up clothes. There I was … once again peeling apart staticky clothes! It's so aggravating to have to chase down a missing sock when it's wedged in the armpit of a shirt!

    Annette, I wish we could use Tide, but my husband breaks out from Tide, so that's not an option for us. Drat. 

    What other changes are you planning on making?

  • K8sMom2002

    Yanno, it just occurred to me. I could just LEAVE the aluminum balls in the dryer — do them while I'm thinking about them and see … Although I really think the other dryer balls would probably work better and might be gentler on my DD's nice shirts.

  • Jen

    Annette – We have used All Free&Clear ever since my oldest was a baby.  

  • Jen

    @.Annette Besides the detergent, what other changes are you trying to make?

  • Laura Jeanne

    Cleaning: I favor Vinegar & it works great. It is a disinfectant too. Sometimes I use it full strength. Sometimes I add it to my dishwater (Dawn-the original blue version is not a serious trigger for me). For the bath/shower, I purchased a dish wand, filling it with a bit of Dawn, vinegar and water; use after bathing/showering. The "recipe" is online. Google it.  I also purchased a spray bottle that I fill with water & vinegar for general cleanups. I also use cleaning wipes for quick cleanup, but find the Clorox based ones to be a trigger for me  

    With allergies and/or asthma, stirring up dust can be troublesome.  If you have a good vacuum with a Hepa filter, it can be vacuumed.  If that does not appeal to you, I use dusting wipes, again be careful for scent triggers  Wear a mask. 

    Toilet, ah, the toilet. Ugh. Denture tablets. I use Lysol Bathroom Foaming Bathroom Cleaner but I have to turn on the fan and leave the room for awhile.  Sometimes I get lucky and someone else finishes the job for me. 

    I do not use powdered scrubs like Ajax much any more, can't breathe. Soft Scrub works pretty well but can be strongly scented. Bon Ami or Barkeepers Friend, liquid, does not have a strong scent. And after scrubbing that stainless steel kitchen sink, grab a dusting wipe and wipe it down. Shiny and resists spotting. 

    Laundry: There are a number of unscented, hypoallergenic laundry detergents, brand and non brand. Unscented dryer sheets are out there as well.  I use vinegar in my laundry as a clothes rinse/softener. Dryer balls. Got mine @ Target.

    Baking soda can work as a scrubbing powder. Lemon is good too.

    I can't tolerate scents. It's taking some time for manufacturers to catch on but they are beginning to see there is a market. 

    About ten years ago, I invested in a good vacuum. I had been spending around $100 every 12-18 months buying new vacuums. At 10 years old, I have recouped its cost and am now ahead of the game in terms of monies spent! 

    Looking forward to reading what others have discovered. ��

     

     

  • Mandy

    I started using vinegar as a softener. Thanks to whom ever shared that gem! Love it. I use dryer balls and 1 unscented dryer sheet. Seems to be working well.

  • K8sMom2002

    Laura Jeanne, great ideas! One thing that I have tumbled upon to clean toilets without too much scent are the washing machine bleach tablets you can now buy. I put one in the toilet tank and one in the bowl. Then I let them dissolve, swish around the water in the bowl with a brush, flush the tank full of bleach water through the bowl and get around the rim. 

    It works pretty well, and it doesn't kick up my asthma like liquid bleach does. Also, it's not as powerful as the big bleach tabs that they sell for dropping into a bowl that have resulted in complaints of messing up the tank gaskets or septic systems. 

  • Jen

    k8smom – Are those tablets like the Affresh brand tablets that you can use for cleaning out your washing machine?

  • K8sMom2002

    Not exactly. I use the brand, but Clorox I believe has a version as well. I get the regular scented ones. Bleach is a big trigger for me, but I really can't skip the bleach on the towels and sheets due to dust mites. So this is a good compromise. Plus, no big jug to lug!

  • Jen

    I may check that out, as I hate having a big jug of bleach sitting around.

  • K8sMom2002

    Just an update on my laundry — I made my own DIY dryer sheets with a DIY fabric softener, and they do work. But I think I need to use cheap washcloths or microfiber cloths instead — they'll hold more fabric softener. The beauty of making your own fabric softener is that you can pick a conditioner that doesn't cause you problems, fragrance wise.

    @.Annette, have you tried any other of those products? Care to recommend any?

    @Laura Jeanne, I've been meaning to try the denture tablets … that may be a great trick! What brand do you use?

  • Laura Jeanne

    Dryer sheets-I use unscented dryer sheets. First ones I saw on the market were Bounce, but they are expensive. Target came out with their own store brand not much longer after the Bounce. I've not checked to see what other unscented sheets are available. 

    Denture tablets-Efferdent

    Had a asthma checkup this week. I'm doing pretty good. Having some hiccups with my allergy shots; I'm experiencing localized reactions to the outdoor shot. They backed it down a bit and things were better, but they must have increased it again as I have a nice size hive on my arm that's rather itchy. Not sure what will happen now. 

    How are you all doing? ��

  • Jen

    @Laura Jeanne Sorry to hear about the reactions to allergy shots.  What does the allergist suggest if you're unable to increase the dose?

  • K8sMom2002

    @Laura Jeanne, I had no idea they made unscented dryer sheets! We don't have a Target around here, but I'm definitely going to look for store brands to see if they have any unscented ones.

    Bummer on the reactions to the allergy shots … Is there a chance they can increase the dose slowly or tweak the medication? How long does it take for the hive to form?

  • .Annette

    No, I haven't tried any of those products.  The dryer balls and the Tide Free & Clear are all that I have experience with.  Am trying a Norwex dry mop for my floors but not sure yet if it works better than a cheaper version.

  • K8sMom2002

    @.Annette, how long have you been giving the Norwex dry mop a try? What do you like about it? Does the dust stick to it or does it sort of fly up?

  • .Annette

    I have been using it for about  two weeks.  It works pretty good so far. Seems to hold the dust well. It is easy to use to get under furniture and seems to collect some of the dirt off the floor also. Probably should have gotten the bigger size due to most of our house being laminate flooring. Haven't used the mop pad yet but that is on the to do list for today.

     

  • Jen

    Annette – I have some Norwex products too.  I'm not totally sure if I like them better than the other stuff we use, but I haven't used them enough to really decide either.

  • Laura Jeanne

    K8MOM

    Allergy shots-The first time I had a reaction, it was with 30 minutes, with a huge and very itchy hive forming. They backed off on that one for a bit. Then this time, the hive was smaller, about the size of two quarters, with the reaction not forming until late that night. I get two shots, indoor and outdoor; the one that's giving me issues is the outdoor one. I'll find out this Friday what they will do this time. Doctor said I'm sensitive & it may take longer for me to get to maintenance. ��

  • Jen

    @Laura Jeanne What did the allergist say about the shots/maintenance dose?

  • K8sMom2002

    @Laura Jeanne, bummer on the reaction, but I guess slow and steady wins the race? Glad your doc is taking the slow and careful road!

    This thread reminds me that I need to look for those dryer sheets … I'm drying some clothes in the dryer now, and if I could find some that were unscented, that would be great. 

  • Pljohns

    We actually found some walmart brand ones that are scented but so lightly that it doesn't bother even me.  I'll be changing over to them when I run out at home-

  • K8sMom2002

    Got this on my Wal-Mart list … you don't happen to remember what "flavor" they were, do you, Lynn? Because you know me — I dive down that cleaning aisle super, super quick. I'm like the Flash!