The public has been hoodwinked into thinking that fabric softeners are hygienic and necessary. However, the facts reveal that those with liver disease have every reason to find alternatives to commercially sold fabric softeners.
by Nicole Cutler, L.Ac.
As the organ primarily responsible for detoxification, the liver must filter out the chemicals we encounter every day. Even though we usually think of toxic chemicals as dirty, uninvited substances in our lives, some of them are just the opposite. Fabric softeners represent the epitome of this conundrum ” since we choose them to make our laundry smell clean and feel soft. Unfortunately, commercial fabric softeners are loaded with toxic chemicals, putting an additional and unnecessary detoxification burden on the liver.
While minimizing contact with toxins is usually advised for children, the elderly and those with a compromised immune system, it is also crucial for those with chronic liver disease. This is because battling chronic liver disease already stresses the liver before it must contend with its detoxification duties. In addition, those with chronic liver disease are likely to have liver inflammation or scarring that reduces the available surface area for filtering out toxins. With fewer functioning liver cells to filter toxins, those with liver disease are more susceptible to a toxin backup in the bloodstream. Depending on the magnitude of this backup, a whole range of potentially severe health problems can emerge. Some of the worst side effects implicated in toxins in the blood involve degradation of the central nervous system.
A majority of American households rely on fabric softeners for their laundry needs. They are so popular because consumers are led to believe that fabric softeners are the only way to:
Eliminate static cling
Make clothing feel soft
Leave laundered fabrics smelling clean and fresh
Unfortunately, most of the popular brands of fabric softeners contain toxins and carcinogens (known cancer-causing substances). According to the Allergy and Environmental Health Association, both liquid and dryer sheet fabric softeners are “the most toxic products produced for daily household use.”
Designed to linger in linens and clothing, the chemicals in fabric softeners are released slowly. While the release of these chemicals into the air creates a pleasant smell, they are also inhaled into the lungs of those nearby and absorbed through the skin of those who have direct contact with the item. Frequent users of fabric softener sheets may notice that their towels seem to lose absorbency and that their dryer vents clog easily. These two common short-comings of fabric softener sheets are a direct result of their chemical residue left behind. Some dryer manufacturers even warn consumers not to use fabric softener sheets, or include a clause stating use of chemical-based dryer sheets will void the warranty.
Found in most commercial fabric softeners, the following nine chemicals must be filtered out by the liver and are either considered to be a toxin or carcinogen. In addition, several are known to damage the liver:
1. Benzyl acetate ” carcinogen
2. Alpha-terpineol ” nervous system toxin
3. Benzyl alcohol ” nervous system toxin
4. Ethyl acetate ” damages the liver
5. Chloroform ” intensifies liver disorders and a nervous system toxin
6. Pentane ” nervous system toxin