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Even though your clothes may smell as fresh as a summer afternoon, regular leading brands of laundry detergents often contain harmful chemicals which lead to negative health effects, ranging from skin and throat irritation to carcinogenicity, and negative effects on the environment. Researchers have found that dryer vents can emit more than 7 hazardous air pollutants. This is even more concerning when dealing with dryers that don’t vent outside or are blocked, causing indoor air pollution.
One of the most harmful chemicals found in laundry detergent is 1,4-Dioxane. This chemical, which is found in paints and varnishes, is found in leading brands of laundry detergent like Tide. The EPA considers this solvent a human carcinogen, and states:
“1,4-Dioxane is used as a solvent. Acute (short-term) inhalation exposure to high levels of 1,4-dioxane has caused vertigo, drowsiness, headache, anorexia and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs in humans. It may also irritate the skin. Damage to the liver and kidneys has been observed in rats chronically (long-term) exposed in their drinking water. In three epidemiologic studies on workers exposed to 1,4-dioxane, the observed number of cancer cases did not differ from the expected cancer deaths. Tumors have been observed in orally exposed animals. EPA has classified 1,4-dioxane as a Group B2, probable human carcinogen.”
By using detergents which contain 1,4-Dioxane or other harmful chemicals, you are exposing your body to these substances. Even though the detergent is used to wash your clothes, some of it might be left over in your clothes after washing cycles. Also, as you can see, there are acute side effects to this chemical just by even inhaling it or direct contact to skin. And this is just one of the chemicals in Tide. There are more than 25 other chemicals in this detergent’s formula. Other dangerous substances like sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), ammonia, nonylphenol ethoxylate, phenols, and phosphates can lead to other significant health problems once they come into contact with your skin. In addition, because laundry care manufacturers are not required to list all the ingredients in their laundry detergents, most of them are not even written on the label of the detergent’s bottle!
Not only do these chemicals remain in your clothes after a wash cycle, but they could potentially penetrate your skin, especially when your clothes become damp or wet. For example, each time you sweat (especially near your groin or armpits) your body absorbs the residue of detergents that your fabrics contain. Another example of an extremely harmful ingredients are the optical brighteners that may be in your detergent; additives that emit blue light and make whites appear whiter by tricking the eye. These brighteners remain in clothes long after washing, which may cause irritation. In addition, they also decompose relatively slowly and can be toxic to marine life.
However, there are many other laundry detergents that are green or eco friendly, and are also safe (or at least safer) for your skin and your health. Some of these include ECOS organic laundry detergent, GreenShield organic detergent, Eco-me laundry detergent, Cleancult laundry pacs, of course, and other green powdered and liquid laundry detergents. There are many of these type of detergent, so choosing the best all natural laundry detergent is really a matter of opinion. For what it’s worth, our vote goes to Cleancult laundry pacs.
So choosing a natural, organic, safer laundry detergent means having to deal with none of these issues. In short, to answer the question of whether laundry detergents are actually toxic or not? Yes, some of them definitely are. Leading brand, regular detergents are toxic both for humans and for the environment. However, natural laundry detergents are not and are a great choice when thinking about the best cleaning products for you and your family. You could even make your own!