People with pets like dogs or cats may have noticed that their little friends like to play with dryer sheets that they find in the laundry room, a laundry basket or just generally floating around the house or apartment. Some pet owners even like to use dryer sheets to remove loose hair from the backs of their pets and reduce static when low humidity is an issue. Even though these pet owners do mean well, the dryer sheets, new or used, can cause your dog or cat to become ill or even die. But why are they toxic to pets? And, are natural dryer sheets a safer alternative?
First, it’s important to understand how a dryer sheet works. A dryer sheet works to disperse static cling by coating fabrics with fabric softener, fragrances and cationic ingredients that reduce static in your clothing and help them feel soft and fresh and that are then transferred from the sheet by heat. Unfortunately, some of those ingredients are benzyl alcohol, camphor and even chloroform. These same chemicals that are in high concentrations on the dryer sheets can harm your pet; especially if they chew or ingest a sheet. Unused dryer sheets are definitely a greater threat since they still carry most of these chemicals, but even used ones are a problem.
To be more specific, many veterinary manuals warn that cationic detergents, which are present in both fabric softeners and dryer sheets, can cause a variety of problems for animals ranging from minor skin irritation to widespread systemic distress and pulmonary edema. Kidney failure is also one of the problems that can occur after ingestion of dryer sheet chemicals as are stomach and intestinal blockage.
How do pets come into contact with dryer sheets?
The easiest and most common way in which a pet may come into contact with a dryer sheet is by, of course, trying to play with them. Since they become so light after being used and may even float around the house, pets become very attracted to their playful nature. So be careful of not leaving used or unused sheets around the floor of your house or apartment. Another way in which they come into contact with them is when, as stated before, owners, following advice from different internet articles, may decide to rub a dryer sheet on their pet’s fur to get rid of static or loose hairs. But animals lick their fur and the areas on which they rest, so using dryer sheets to remove fur is dangerous. They can, however, be used to remove pet hairs from our clothes and upholstery (yay!). Dryer sheets can even be used to keep mosquitoes away! (Some say even mice).
Pets are a part of the family and as such pet owners like to take care and precautions with them. For those pet owners here are a couple of safety tips to watch out for in the laundry area:
- To an animal, a washer or dryer may seem like an ideal place to take a nap or rest - especially if the machines are warm. To avoid any accidents always be sure to close the lid or door on both machines.
- Always check that your washer and dryer are empty before throwing your clothes in.
- Keep your dryer sheets safely stored away, preferably in a tightly closed container.
- Always be sure to close the lid on detergent bottles or seal your laundry packages.
Be sure to follow these safety tips around your laundry both for your sake and the health and wellness of your pets. They will be grateful to you!