Fabric softeners work by coating your laundry with oils and other ingredients that stay on the fabric, leaving it soft and static free. But it also leaves a water-repelling residue and possible carcinogens on your laundry. Fabric softener will also deposit on the inside of your dryer or washer; so if you use fabric softener on your other laundry, the softener will deposit on the cloth diapers when they are washed and dried. The residue will make your cloth diapers less absorbent, as well as deteriorating any water-proof laminate. The residue can usually be removed, but damage to laminate is irreversible.

To remove residue, run three hot wash cycles with a cloth diaper safe detergent followed by a rinse. Prevention is the best option, helping you to avoid frustration and wasted money and resources. There is another option to keep your laundry soft when using the dryer.

Wool Dryer Balls

In the quest for a non-toxic solution to save resources and avoid fabric softeners, the wool dryer ball was created. The wool dryer balls work by bouncing around in the dryer and โ€œbeatingโ€ the contents, allowing the warm air to circulate into the fibers of the laundry. This can reduce the drying time by 25-45%!

Wool is a natural material that has zero toxins. These dryer balls are fragrance free, non-toxic, and naturally anti-bacterial. You will typically need from 4-6 wool dryer balls for your dryer.

Here are some great made in the USA options:

Here is a link on how to make your own: http://www.ehow.com/how_5151381_make-wool-dryer-balls.html

The use of the wool dryer balls will save you time and money as they are known to reduce drying time, and have no cost after the initial purchase.

Note: I have used the plastic dryer balls, and they did work. However I prefer the wool dryer balls, as they are sustainable, natural, and do not make as much noise in the dryer!

Written by Sonya Choron 12/21/11