There’s nothing like a new load of clean, sweet-smelling laundry. Unfortunately, underneath those pleasant scents and squeaky cleanliness lurks a dirty secret. Ordinary grocery store detergents are little more than a mix of toxic chemicals. They get the job done, but at the cost of your health and that of your family.
Also, most people don’t even realize how many chemicals are in these products. You won’t usually find them on the label, and manufacturers aren’t required by law to list them. The toxicity of these substances ranges from fairly mild effects, such as allergies and skin irritation, to serious effects, such as neurological diseases and cancer, and developmental disorders in children. Here are some of the most commonly used laundry detergent chemicals and their potential dangers.
Any chemical formulation of laundry detergent that contains stain removers will almost always contain surfactants called alkylphenol ethoxylates (APE). These allow stain-causing particles to be removed more effectively. However, the FDA warns that these surfactants can disrupt proper hormonal function, which could cause infertility, early or delayed puberty, growth problems, and reproductive cancers.
These chemicals work by reacting with ultraviolet light, making whites appear whiter. Brightening agents are known to be phototoxic. This means that exposure to sunlight can trigger an allergic reaction on any skin it comes into contact with. Additionally, many experts also suspect that brightening agents could cause bacteria to mutate into more dangerous strains.
You may be most familiar with petroleum distillates in the form of kerosene, naphtha, and paint thinner. Many decades ago, these substances were used to wash clothes, but the practice was stopped due to the health and safety hazards posed by the chemicals. Unfortunately, they are still used in today’s laundry detergents. Possible effects of exposure include respiratory damage, cancer, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat.
Also known as sodium hypochlorite, this toxic corrosive substance is responsible for the vast majority of household poisonings. It is highly reactive and often produces even more dangerous substances when it comes into contact with other cleaners like ammonia, vinegar, and rubbing alcohol. Long-term exposure to bleach and its fumes can lead to hormonal disturbances, reproductive problems, respiratory problems, and immunosuppression.
This substance is used as a preservative, water softener and foam stabilizer. Also known as disodium ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid or EDTA, laboratory studies have found the chemical to be both cytotoxic and genotoxic. This means that EDTA causes damage to the cellular and DNA structures of the body, a major risk factor for developing cancer and degenerative diseases.
These artificial flavors are often highly volatile and cause serious allergies in many people. They can also suppress the immune system and promote skin and lung cancer.
These extremely strong chemical vapors can burn the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. Repeated exposure is known to cause cataracts, corneal damage, pneumonia, and chronic bronchitis.
Like bleach, this substance is corrosive and can irritate skin, respiratory tract, and mucous membranes. It has also been linked to asthma and increased frequency of attacks.
Those products that make your clothes so soft may seem like magic, but it’s more like mad science. To achieve softness, fabric softeners contain phthalates, petroleum-based chemicals that, in most other applications, are used to make plastics pliable and pliable. Phthalates have shown strong links to allergies, asthma, rashes, irritation of mucous membranes, and headaches, as well as developmental delays in children. They are also potent endocrine disruptors suspected of causing birth defects, infertility, early puberty, menstrual irregularities, and numerous forms of cancer.
Increasing fears about exposure to bacteria and our collective obsession with sanitation have led to the addition of antimicrobial substances to many common household products. Triclosan is the most widely used chemical for this application and is found in many household products, including laundry detergent. Some studies have linked triclosan, among other antimicrobials, with a higher incidence of allergies and food intolerances. However, this is because it deprives the immune system of contact with environmental pathogens, so it never learns to distinguish a real threat from a harmless substance. Instead, the immune system goes haywire, attacking harmless materials at random, possibly including your own cells.
Other research has found that triclosan can cause skin problems and allergic hypersensitivity. Additionally, triclosan reacts with chlorine in tap water to produce chloroform, an extremely dangerous chemical. Chloroform is known to cause cardiac arrhythmias, heart failure, liver cancer, kidney cancer, and liver failure.
There’s a lot of nasty stuff about conventional laundry detergent, but luckily, better options are available. ATTITUDE laundry detergent is one of the best. It’s all natural, free of harmful chemicals, and safe for you, your family, and the environment.