There are many myths regarding what is safe to use during pregnancy. The sensationalist headlines today are no help when trying to decipher if something is hype or legitimate. Even once thought mundane activities, like doing laundry require a second thought with the addition of so many chemicals to so many things in our daily life. Dryer sheets are slathered in chemicals, which do have the potential to transform with the extreme heat of the dryer. You want to be extra careful when you’re pregnant but do you have to stop using dryer sheets?
Whether you feel comfortable using dryer sheets during pregnancy is a personal choice, but it’s wise to take certain precautions.
While there aren’t many studies done on this specific topic, one research study published in Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health was performed with two washers and dryers from homeowners. The appliances were thoroughly cleaned before the study. Each appliance went through three cycles: no detergent, scented detergent, and both scented detergent and dryer sheets. Afterward, the emissions from the dryer vents were investigated.
Over 25 VOCs were emitted from the dryer vents that contained scented laundry detergent and dryer sheets, as well as high concentrations of acetaldehyde, acetone, and ethanol. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, some of the VOCs are classified as hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and acetaldehyde and benzene are thought to be as carcinogenic with no safe exposure level.
Of course, the dryer vents are contained inside the house and only lead to open up outside the home. Whether you feel comfortable using dryer sheets during pregnancy is a personal choice. In any case, it’s wise to take certain precautions such as washing your hands thoroughly after touching them and only using the recommended amount. Try not to sit outside your house where the dryer vent blows out. If it makes you feel better, skip the dryer sheets throughout pregnancy or all together. One of the safest ways to dry your clothes is the old fashioned way — using clothespins to hang them up on an outdoor clothesline!