Date Added: May 21, 2005
Consumer advisories make very popular chain letters and usually take the form of a warning that something you've long-accepted as being a safe and convenient household product actually has a very dark side. This one is light on the typical doom and gloom and, for the most part, is accurate.
Dryer-sheets Clogging Lint-filters
"I had a wonderful thing happen this morning; the heating unit went out on my dryer Why does everything seem to fall apart this time of year!!???!!!
We called the guy here in town that fixes things like that and he came over while I was working over at the folks. One new $50 heating unit and a $40 house call later, I now have a dryer that works plus a very good hint from the man that fixed it! Guess that makes the bill almost worthwhile!
My husband told me when Perk (that's the guy that fixes things) got here, he went directly to the dryer and pulled out the lint filter. (It was clean. We always clean the lint from the filter after every load of clothes.)
Perk told Jerry that he wanted to show him something. He took the filter over to the sink and ran hot water over it. Now, this thing is like a mesh - I'm sure you know what your dryer's lint filter looks like - WELL.......the hot water just laid on top of the mesh!!! It didn't go through it at all!!!
Perk told Jerry that dryer sheets cause a transparent film over that mesh and that blocks the flow of air which eventually burns out the heating unit. You can't easily SEE the film, but it's there. He said the best way to keep your dryer working for a very long time (and to keep your electric bill lower) is to take that filter out and wash it with hot soapy water and an old toothbrush (or other brush) at least every six months. He said that makes the life of the dryer at least twice as long!
How about that???!!!! Learn something new everyday!
I certainly didn't know dryer sheets would do that and I doubt you did either. So, thought I'd share!
Dryer sheets are no stranger to e-mail lore. Another missive cataloging a host of alternative uses for Bounce brand fabric softener sheets has been making the rounds since at least 2003, and the cleaning staple frequently makes popular lists of home-grown insect repellants.
The chain letter above began circulating early in 2005. Some variants suggest all-natural and chemical-free alternatives to commercially available dryer sheet brands, leading some to suspect that this warning is actually a subversive plot by alternative product manufacturers or resellers to "scare" you into buying their products. But this one actually stands up to scrutiny.
I reviewed the owner's manuals for a variety of different brands of laundry dryers, starting with the one we have at home - a GE model - and found that most recommend against using dryer sheets. Others recommend cleaning the lint filter after each load, but also washing it occasionally with soap and water to remove residue.
Knowing that my own dryer at home had been in moderately heavy use for at least 5 years without ever having the lint trap washed, I decided to put these claims to the test. First, I put it under running water. The water went through, but did pool some on the top side before dripping through. I then washed the screen using mild detergent and my hand. I repeated the water test and found that, indeed, the water did appear to run through the screen much more easily. I also found that cleaning the trap shortened the amount of time the typical load of clothes took to dry using the dryer's automatic sensor mode.
So, do you switch to a chemical-free dryer sheet alternative, quit using sheets altogether or just be diligent in regularly cleaning the trap? Most of the research I've seen indicated that the latter is the most reasonable and effective alternative.
References: Snopes.com, About.com, TruthOrFiction.com