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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

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Organic LivingThe following is part of an Organic Journey Guest Post Series written by Amy, a long time helper behind the scenes of Southern Savers.

Without doing an ounce more of research, I’m going to predict that fabric softeners aren’t that great for one simple reason: they are loaded with fragrances.  From everything that we learned earlier about synthetic fragrances, we know that we need to avoid them.  A quick glance over at the EWG’s database reveals that only one fabric softener that they’ve reviewed gets an A.  In fact, they have a whole section devoted on why we should avoid fabric softeners-especially since they really aren’t necessary to get clothes clean.  Here are their top three reasons.

One, fabric softeners (including dryer sheets) coat our clothes with a layer of chemicals.  These chemicals are often referred to as “quats,” and quats are known to cause asthma in otherwise healthy people.  Two, many quats are antibacterial.  While that sounds good in theory, the EWG says that this is another case where we are ramping ourselves up for superbugs, not to mention that clean clothes really don’t need to be treated with antibacterial agents.  Third, fabric softeners are laden with fragrances.  Enough said, right?

So, what are the alternatives?  I’m going to let you in on the easiest solution first.  Just don’t use anything.  I know that might sound outrageous to those of you who have been using fabric softeners since you first learned how to do laundry; it did to me when I first heard it.  Years ago though, when I was trying to make laundry better for my daughter that struggled with eczema, I tried all kinds of alternatives and realized that not using any type of fabric softener or dryer sheet was not only the easiest solution, but it was free and eliminating it really didn’t seem to make a difference.  In fact, all of our towels say not to use fabric softener as it negatively affects their ability to absorb water.  But, take heart, there are some alternatives if you want soft, fragrant, and static free clothing.

White Vinegar

Add ½ cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle of your wash.  One blogger mentioned that she found vinegar to be great at softening clothes but not so great at eliminating static.  She also recommended using a fabric softener dispensing ball if you are worried about missing the rinse cycle.

Natural Fibers

Wear clothes with natural fibers as opposed to nylons, spandex and the likes.  Natural fibers won’t have as much static to contend with.  (This might be the biggest factor in our success in eliminating fabric softeners…minus, of course, those silky princess nightgowns my girls love!)

Wool Dryer Balls

Wool dryer balls are an option we tried early on in our experimentation.  You can buy them or easily make your own.  The theory is that they speed up drying time by bouncing around in your dryer and allowing air to flow more freely through your clothes, and they are supposed to soften your clothes by the felted wool’s gentle friction against your clothes.  I honestly didn’t notice a difference when I used them, but maybe you have had better success than I have.

Reusable Dryer Sheets

Another option is reusable dryer sheets.  They vary in price, but are around $15 for two.  You put both sheets in the dryer, and they claim to eliminate static and soften fabric.  Some claim to last for 1,000 loads which makes it quite economical.  A friend of mine uses these and says that she likes to add a drop or two of essential oils to them every couple of loads to get her clothes smelling good too.

A  quick heads up, there are several other alternatives that don’t sound too great to me if you start looking for options.  Some people recommend wadding up some aluminum foil and tossing it into your dryer.  This just sounds like a recipe for burns or for snagging your clothes.  Another alternative is to use a tennis ball or rubber ball in the dryer.  I tried this years ago and there was alot of racket while my clothes were drying.  There are PVC free balls that are made specifically for this purpose which might make a difference.

Next week, we are doing what many of you have been asking for: a complete list of all the previous organic living posts!  Hopefully, this will make it easier to find what you are looking for and catch up on any that you have missed.

For now, have you found a way to get your clothes smelling good and static free without using toxic chemicals?  If so, please share with us!  We’d love to learn from your experiences.

    • Lana

      Many years ago my allergist told me that fabric softeners contain formaldehyde as the active ingredient. This made me never want to use them again! We do not use anything and our clothes are very soft and static is not a problem.

    • srt8021

      We use alpaca hair dryer balls and they work great! I definitely think they speed up the drying time and they help eliminate wrinkles.

    • ericswifeowensmom

      When I use vinegar in the wash as fabric softener, I add aluminum foil balls to the dryer to eliminate static. Seems to work.

    • Sarah Rossi

      Vinegar is great for getting rid of odors in clothes. For towels that can not be bleached, I soak them in 2 cups of vinegar. I have been using it as a fabric softener for the last year or so also.

    • Bella

      Instead of aluminum foil, I’ve tried clipping a few safety pins on the inside of a piece of cloth (so as not to scratch the dryer drum), after using vinegar in the dryer. It seems to work well on most everything, except fleece.

    • Bella

      I mean vinegar in the washer, sorry.

    • Cay

      I use Arm and Hammer Total 2 in 1 Dryer sheets, save them after use and use three together on a “Swiffer” type dust mop. I also use them as dust cloths. They are great!

    • vikie504

      My washer is over 20 years old and I only use vinegar in the rinse cycle. I sometimes use baking soda in the wash cycle and I found EcoNuts to use as laundry detergent. So far, so good.

    • Jamie

      I started using the “wet” dryer sheets from The Honest Company. They are a little more expensive, but I have been extremely satisfied. They have no synthetic fragrance, dyes, or questionable ingredients, and they are also biodegradable, hypoallergenic, pH neutral, and vegan.

    • rachel

      I saw on Pinterest you can crumble up aluminum foil into a ball and throw in the dryer to act as a dryer sheet. It really works to eliminate static! And you can keep using the same ball!

    • mommyof1

      I haven’t used dryer sheets in well over a year now, and I honestly have
      not seen a difference in static or the softness of our clothes. Not only does it save money, but I am not adding any more chemicals to the things around us.

    • kjmiller

      Aside from the other negatives, fabric softener literally “chews down” the fibers in your clothes to make them feel softer. Not a good thing if you want to resell your gently used children’s items like Gymboree and other high end brands.

    • tori729

      I bought a couple plastic dryer balls from Norwex and I never have a problem with static. I never used liquid fabric softener anyway so I don’t know the difference in the softness.

    • sharon

      Does anyone have any ideas for static that does not use chemicals?

    • sharon

      Does anyone have any ideas for static that does not use chemicals?

    • LindaAnne

      Hey Amy!

      Thanks for these columns and all the time and effort that goes into them. As far as fabric softener…I have tried vinegar (which I use all the time for house cleaning) but haven’t had much success in the laundry arena with it. However, recently I heard a bit of a program on Moody Radio that suggested trying a sprinkle of baking soda on your wet clothes before putting them in the dryer and this has worked for us. The clothes aren’t really softer but the soda seems to take care of the static. I have been very conservative with the amount of soda that I use on the clothes and choose an article of clothing (like an undershirt) that won’t be a problem if there is a stain or discoloration after drying. Again, so far so good…no stains. The program I heard this tip on was Toxic Tuesdays with Chris Fabry on our local Moody Radio station. His wife is the lady that does the program with him on Tuesdays and has had some good suggestions about healthy alternatives to chemical laden products.

      Thanks again for your time and effort!
      LindaAnne

    • Holly

      An alternative to purchased dryer balls/aluminum foil balls is to use your mis-matched socks. Ball one sock up very tightly, and stuff it down into a second, tying a knot in the top for some added bulk. It will help cut down on static, and you can add 10-15 drops of essential oils to the inside sock if you want mildly fragrant clean laundry.