In the laundry room, most of us are prone to overkill. We want beautifully clean, brilliantly white, soft and fluffy laundry results. And we don’t measure. We pour stuff out of jugs, straight into the washer, often adding a second big glug just to make sure.

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We use liquid fabric softener by the gallon and dryer sheets by the hundreds because there’s no such thing as too soft when it comes to towels and sheets. And when things come out looking gray and feeling stiff and crunchy, what do we do? More detergent, more softener and even more dryer sheets!

The problem is product build-up that never gets rinsed out. Every time you do the laundry, more and more product gets left behind. This build-up of detergent and softeners can make appliances stink, colors look dingy, whites gray and linens feel stiff and scratchy. But that’s not the worst.

The medical website, WebMD.com, reports that the perfumes and additives in laundry products may cause skin problems. Fabric softeners are very allergenic and can cause eczema, which appears as dry, itchy skin.

Dryer sheets contain volatile organic compounds like acetaldehyde and butane, which can cause respiratory irritation. Fabric softener chemicals known as quaternary ammonium compounds, have been linked to asthma. Acetone, also used in dryer sheets, can cause nervous system effects like headaches or dizziness.

Ironically, commercial fabric softeners—liquid softener you put into the washing machine and sheets that go into the dryer—are not the way to turn out beautifully soft, fluffy clothes, sheets and towels. They are the problem! The more you use, the less satisfactory and healthy your results will be.

MEASURE DETERGENT. Check the owner manual to discover the right amount of detergent for your particular washer. If yours is a HE machine, it uses very little water. This is the reason you do not want to add more than you know will be adequately rinsed away.

NO COMMERCIAL SOFTENERS. Stop using liquid softeners and dryer sheets. Enjoy the savings.

DOUBLE RINSE WITH VINEGAR. If you’re coming off a laundry-product high, you may need to double rinse for awhile to coax all of the detergent and product build-up out of your laundry. Adding 1/2 to 1 cup white vinegar—depending on the load size—to the rinse (fill the liquid softener dispenser and it will release automatically) does wonders to rinse out detergent and other product build-up. Don’t worry. You only notice the vinegar smell when clothes are wet and not when dry, even if dried on a clothesline.

DRYER BALLS. They don’t contain toxic chemicals, they last for thousands of loads, get rid of static cling and wrinkles, soften clothes, and they actually save time and energy by cutting down on drying time. Dryer balls are the solution!

Dryer balls of 100% wool are the best dryer balls of all. They mechanically soften your laundry without any of the harmful chemicals you find in fabric softener or dryer sheets. They lift up and separate laundry while drying, reducing both the drying time and wrinkling. Wool dryer balls also retain the heat which it then transfers to your clothes as they tumble, this further speeds up the drying process saving energy and money.

We have many choices in dryer balls, however I have determined that the very best inexpensive dryer balls are Wool Dryer Balls by Smart Sheep (about $17.) This set of dryer balls will last for years and years without deteriorating, falling apart or losing the ability to turn out beautifully soft clothes and linens. These come in a 6-pack and are extra large at 9-inches in circumference, each. As dryer balls go, these are perfect in every way.

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