“I love when my clothes smell neutral and still have stains on them after I do the laundry.”
—Said nobody, ever.
We all love that aromatic, fresh-scent experience when our clothes come out of the dryer. But when it comes to doing your laundry, there are a shocking number of highly-toxic substances in standard detergents.
And it’s not just the clothes we wear that are exposing us to these harsh chemicals. It’s the sheets we sleep in, clinging to our body for several hours a night. And it’s the towels that we press deeply into our skin when drying off.
But if you want to reduce your toxic load (no pun intended), there’s a problem with going natural with laundry detergent…
Many brands of eco-friendly laundry cleaners just don’t work very well. They don’t remove stains effectively and they don’t really smell that good. Thankfully, there are some toxic-free laundry detergent brands that actually can get Green Drink and red wine stains out and have a pleasing scent. I’ll share with you one brand that has caught my eye, but first…
What’s In Your Laundry Detergent?
In 2021, Americans spent almost $6 billion on laundry detergent. Although sales of eco-friendly detergents are increasing, they still amount to a drop in the laundry basket. Mainstream brands like Tide still dominate. But if you’ve never given thought to what’s in your laundry detergent, it’s my hope that reading this will make you more aware of the chemicals you’re exposing yourself to.
It’s shocking how the government allows toxic chemicals in everyday household goods like laundry detergent. Consider this study in Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health. It concludes that scented laundry detergent and dryer sheets “contain carcinogens that waft through vents, potentially raising cancer risk.”
The researchers tested several brands of laundry detergent and dryer sheets. What they found was that there are more than 25 toxic chemicals released into the air by scented laundry detergent and dryer sheets. A couple of these chemicals are acetaldehyde and benzene, both of which are associated with higher cancer risks.
So it’s not just the risk of using conventional laundry detergent on your skin that poses a risk. It’s the breathing in of the chemicals, too. If you have kids, hopefully reading this will make you realize how important it is to limit synthetic chemical exposure in your home.
There was another study I came across published in Environmental Health Perspectives. It said that out of six best-selling laundry products, five of them polluted the air with at least one cancer-causing chemical.
No Safety Oversight In Laundry Detergent
Check out the irony here. When it comes to protecting our interests and welfare as consumers, the agency tasked with that job is the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Yet the Commission doesn’t require companies like Procter & Gamble (maker of Tide) to list all their ingredients that may cause cancer.
Sure, you might see an ingredient labeled as “fragrance.” But what the label doesn’t tell you is exactly what’s in that fragrance. The label would be much longer because “fragrance” can mean a toxic cauldron of a dozen or more synthetic chemicals. What’s even more troubling about fragrance is that the vast majority of them have not been properly tested for their effects on human health.
One “mystery” chemical in fragrance are phthalates. These are chemicals used to make fragrances last longer and to make plastic products more durable. Even mainstream WebMD says that daily contact with phthalates may lead to the early deaths of about 100,000 older Americans a year.
Commercial Detergent: Bad For The Lungs
Remember, when you do your laundry, the chemicals aren’t just making contact with your skin when you put your clothes on, dry off after showering and when you sleep. Your lungs are also being exposed.
In fact, according to a study in an allergy journal, even a full 24 hours after washing your clothes, the residue from your detergent can weaken the protective barrier in your lungs. This damage puts you at higher risk of developing asthma and allergic symptoms.
Laundry Sauce: Eco-Friendly Pods That Work
A friend of mine started a company called Laundry Sauce. Instead of liquid detergent, Laundry Sauce uses pods that are free of toxic chemicals. But does it work? Yes! Thanks to natural essential oils.
My friend and his collaborators say they were bored by the “mundane scents in the detergent aisle,” and that’s why Laundry Sauce was launched. For many people, the problem isn’t just that the scents of commercial detergents are mundane. It’s the fact that they are toxic.
Some people are so sensitive to these chemicals that they can’t even walk down the detergent aisle because the synthetic fragrance is overwhelming and triggers allergies.
Another reason I like Laundry Sauce is because they don’t use any artificial dyes. And instead of using harsh, abrasive stain removers, the company uses natural enzymes.
I don’t receive any financial compensation for endorsing this brand by the way. I just want to give them some props for making a safer laundry detergent. Give them a try.