4 Toxic Ingredients in Your Laundry and the Best Alternatives

Everyone loves the scent of freshly-laundered clothes. When we think of toxic hazards we don’t often think of our sweet-smelling clothes. However, the majority of commercial laundry detergents hide dangerous chemicals behind those sweet aromas.

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the law in American permits makers of cleaning substances, including laundry detergent, to use any ingredient they wish to use even if they are known toxins or chemicals that may harm infant fetal development.

The average American home contains between 3 and 5 gallons of toxic materials, and a great number of these can be found in laundry supplies.

Government regulators seem to pick and choose which chemicals they are going to focus on, such as those that are suspected to cause cancer, but leave many that are toxic to the brain, nervous system, endocrine system and other organs unscrutinized. Reported side-effects from these chemicals include respiratory problems, hormonal disruption, eye irritation and even cancer.

Dryer sheets can be especially dangerous and actually leave a coating of toxic chemicals on clothing. When we wear clothing with these chemicals, the moisture on our bodies brings the chemicals in contact with our skin, and they are then absorbed into our bloodstreams. Your clothes smelling synthetically fragrant is just not worth the potential health hazards of using these products.

The sad truth is that the manufacturers of laundry detergent don’t have to list the cocktail of toxins that are in their products. However, many, especially those with fragrance, contain the following highly dangerous substances:

  • 1, 4-dioxane
  • Nonylphenol ethoxylate
  • Phosphates
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate/ sodium laureth sulfate

The effects of these chemicals are cumulative, meaning you may not see any signs of problems for years, but all of the sudden your body will have had enough when it can no longer cope with the toxic insult.

Not only is there a risk to you and your family when you use chemically-induced laundry detergent, but the environment suffers, as well. All those chemicals end up in the water and cause harm to wildlife and contaminate groundwater supplies.

As of 2010, 40 states have banned the use of phosphates. Officials in many of these states report a decrease in the amount of phosphates found in city water treatment facilities. This is a good sign, however, many phosphate-contaminated products are still being used.


Don’t fret, you can still have clean and fresh-smelling laundry without all the harsh and dangerous chemicals. Here are few suggestions:

Go Green: Choose a green cleaning product that does not have artificial fragrance. Good brands include Seventh Generation, Dr.Bronner’s, Mrs. Meyers and Method.

Use Soap Nuts: Soap nuts are berries from the Sapindus mukorossi tree that is native to northern India. The shell of this berry contains natural soap. They are put in a small burlap bag and tossed into the wash. This method is completely natural.

laundryMake Your Own Stain Remover: Consider using a mixture of salt, vinegar and baking soda to remove stains. Sprinkle on salt or baking soda and allow it to absorb the stain before spraying the stain with vinegar. Allow the vinegar to sit for 10 minutes before washing. You can also make a paste with baking soda and vinegar and rub it on clothes with an old toothbrush.

Make Your Own Laundry Freshener: Mix 15 drops of lavender in 12 ounces of water and spray on clothes before placing them in the dryer. This will leave them with a clean and fresh scent. Better yet, spray and put your clothes out on the line.

-The Alternative Daily

Recommended Articles