How To Choose A Non-Toxic Laundry Detergent

You buy laundry detergents to help you remove the dirt in your clothes and give them a fresh scent.

You want your family to enjoy the benefits of clean, warm and classy wear.

Everybody wants the best for themselves and their families, and you, my friend shouldn’t settle for a detergent that does less.

While there are lots of laundry detergents that don’t clean your clothes properly, others are much worse as they subject your clothes to abrasive detergents that wear the fabrics out making them tear before their time.

These harmful chemicals in detergents do not only spoil your clothes, but also affect your health and that of your family.

You can’t be wasting money on laundry products that make you spend a whole lot of your hard-earned money in hospital bills.

Most Americans trust the government, through the right bodies, to regulate the kind of ingredients that manufacturers put in their laundry products.

While the government should test all these laundry ingredients for safety, a lot needs to be done because of over the 62,000 ingredients used in making laundry products, only 300 have been tested for safety.

Besides, there is a huge loophole as manufacturers are not required by law to show the full list of ingredients used in making the detergent on product labels.

That, might seem to be a small thing, but it isn’t, because manufacturers can use harmful ingredients but won’t mention it on their list of ingredients on the product label.

It therefore rests on you to ensure the products you buy are safe to your fabrics, environment, and family.

And when you’re clueless, it can be hard getting your hands on the non-toxic detergents that still do a good job at cleaning your clothes.

Why use a non-toxic detergent?

The primary purpose of doing laundry is to ensure that our clothes are clean and free from germs and microorganisms.

In turn, we boost our health and protect our families from diseases.

Unfortunately, today, there is a wide range of detergents that contain toxic ingredients. Most manufacturers use harsh chemicals to make laundry detergents.

As a result, these laundry detergents can put you at risk of developing a skin allergy or respiratory problems.

It’s saddening to know that the same product we are trusting to get rid of bacteria can pose a significant danger to our health.

The worst part about toxic detergents is that even if you rinse your clothes repeatedly, there will still be particles of detergent left on your garment.

And when these particles come in contact with your skin, they can cause adverse reactions.

Harmful ingredient to check on product labels

The easiest way to know the level of toxicity of a laundry detergent is to check if it contains harmful chemicals.

Most manufacturers list the ingredients on the product label so that is the best place to start.

Here are ingredients to avoid;

  1. Fragrances- The worst thing about the fragrance industry is that it is self-regulated. Therefore, anything can pass to the consumers— even the most toxic of all the ingredients. And the word can be used to mask a cocktail of dangerous chemicals that may even disrupt your hormones. Fragrances remain in your clothes after washing them, and they get in contact with your skin, pass though the pores and enter your blood stream. Fragrances can do a lot of harm in your body. Mostly made from petroleum and tar, fragrances are carcinogens, respiratory and skin irritants, and hormone disruptions. If you’ve been having frequent cases of respiratory problems, then maybe you should check your laundry product label for the fragrances used. As a safety rule, avoid all products that have ‘fragrance’ as part of the ingredients. But that isn’t enough, look deeper into the marketing gimmicks they use these days to woo safety conscious buyers. Don’t trust it when they label a product with funny promises like “natural scent”, “fragrance-free”, or “natural fragrance”. All these do not guarantee your safety because nobody knows how the manufacturers reached the conclusion that the ‘fragrance is natural’. In few words, there’s only one way to deal with fragrances— avoid them!
  1. Phthalates- Don’t even look at this on the product label, most manufacturers do no mention it for the obvious reasons. Phthalates are known hormonal disruptors. According to Centers for Disease Control, phthalates are present in most Americans’ blood with women having the highest quantities. Though phthalates are not mentioned in most product labels, they are often included in fragrances. You must therefore avoid fragrances at all cost. 
  1. Phosphates and EDTA- If you have ever used hard water to do laundry, you’ll understand how bad it gets to get the detergent to lather up. Phosphates and EDTA are used to make washing your sheets and clothes using hard water bearable, but again, they are harmful to the environment. You must therefore look for phosphates-free detergent to keep your environment safe.
  1. Quaternium-15- If you spot a product with this ingredient, avoid it like the plague. This product is common in laundry detergents but has been proved to cause skin rashes, affect the respiratory system, and trigger asthma. Don’t buy any detergent that has quarternium-15.
  1. Formaldehyde- The World Health Organization (WHO) and the government of the United States have classified formaldehyde as a human carcinogen. However, the product is still present in most laundry detergents. Formaldehyde has been shown to cause skin irritations, cancer, and organ toxicity.
  1. Petroleum distillates- Petroleum distillates help in moving dried-in grease stains. That makes them important ingredients in making detergents, however, they have been linked to cancer and lung diseases.

What are some of the toxic chemicals you should avoid?

If you spot the below chemicals in a laundry detergent, consider another option.

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium Laureth sulfate

Many laundry detergents have the ingredients Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium Laureth sulfate. These chemicals lead to respiratory and skin allergies.

Moreover, some say these chemicals are sometimes linked to cancer. But this is not confirmed. The point is; avoid laundry detergents that contain these chemicals.

  • Methylisothiazolinone and Benzisothiazolinone

Other chemicals that you have to look out for are the Methylisothiazolinone and Benzisothiazolinone. When you notice that your laundry detergents contain this product, leave it at the store. These chemicals are harmful.

They can lead to severe respiratory and skin illnesses. Moreover, it is not friendly to the environment and can cause pollution.

Other ingredients to avoid in laundry detergents

  • Nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE)
  • Brighteners
  • Bleach
  • sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)

How can I find a non-toxic laundry detergent?

But how do you determine a non-toxic detergent?

Indisputably, selecting a non-toxic detergent can be a hustle. I mean, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that more than 65% of laundry detergents are toxic. However, there are several factors you have to check in a detergent to determine its level of toxicity.

Let’s take a look at some of these factors in this article. In turn, you’ll get to purchase the best non-toxic laundry detergent.

Factors to consider before buying a laundry detergent

Here we go

  • Fragrances levels of the soap:

You have to check the fragrance percentage of the laundry detergent. Often, the ingredients responsible for the fragrance can be harsh to the skin.

Considering the scent of the laundry detergent can stay on clothes for more than six weeks, it is essential to know if there are any side effects to it.

But to be safe, it is always advisable to go for detergents that contain mild to no fragrance, especially if you have a newborn.

Yes, we understand that you desire to have fresh-smelling clothes and bed sheets. But keep in mind that scents in laundry detergents can pass from your clothes to your skin to your bloodstream.

And mostly, the fragrance is usually made from coal tar and petroleum. Therefore, they can pose a danger to your

  • Brightener levels of the detergent:

Additionally, check to see whether the laundry detergent contains any brighteners. Brighteners can cause skin and eye irritation, as well. However, note that you won’t always get to see the brightener level on the packaging of your laundry detergent.

But one way to know that the detergent does not contain any brightener is if it is biodegradable. Ultimately, you would instead settle for a biodegradable option.

This way, you rest assures that the laundry detergent is free from bleach and brighteners. It is good for your health, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Sadly, the majority of manufacturers do not indicate the fragrance ingredients on the detergent pack. So, it would be best if you went for a mild smelling detergent.

  • Percentage of Phthalates use to make the detergent

What are phthalates?

Phthalates are responsible for retaining the scent in a laundry detergent. Even so, this chemical is not safe for your health.

What happens is that when it comes in contact with the skin, it gets passed on to the bloodstream. As a result, it causes hormone imbalance, especially in females.

In most instances, manufacturers won’t indicate the percentage if phthalates on the laundry detergent. But you can always tell from the smell of the detergent.

If you want to avoid coming in contact with this chemical, it would be best if you purchase scent-free laundry detergents.

  • Bleach levels in the detergent:

Before purchasing a laundry detergent, always check its bleach levels. High bleach levels can be very harsh and harmful to your skin and lungs.

Typically, the bleach is sodium hypochlorite, a harmful chemical that can cause skin and eye irritation. The pungent smell of sodium hypochlorite can also provoke asthma attacks.

Besides, when you leave it lying around, and your children ingest it, it can cause death. So, purchase a laundry detergent that contains little to no bleach levels.

What is the best non-toxic laundry detergent?

If you are actively searching for a non-toxic laundry detergent, consider the Attitude Baby Laundry detergent.

When you spot this detergent on the shelf or counter, don’t think twice. It is worth the money.

The attitude laundry detergent is mild on the skin and an ideal option if you have a newborn baby.

Additionally, consider other fragrance free options from the Attitude brand if you think this particular option is going to break your bank.

Look for natural laundry products

The laundry detergent industry is one that is focused more on profits than on environmental safety.

All the chemical ingredients listed above are very harmful, but what’s worse is that you might look at the product label and you won’t spot them because manufacturers can opt not to list them.  Therefore, you will still get a harmful product even after studying the product label.

The surest way to avoid them is to go for natural cleaners especially when cleaning your bedding.

Though there is a confusing hype about natural cleaning products and the many ‘natural products’ that don’t work, you can still get the right one.

Look for detergents that are made from plant-based ingredients— not petroleum based surfactants. Natural products will keep your home safe and your fabrics happier.

With natural laundry detergents, you won’t have to worry about respiratory problems, pet health, skin irritations, and more severe ailments.

In conclusion, you have to take the right steps to keep yourself and your family safe from the toxicity of most laundry detergents.

The government is trying, but there are still loopholes that laundry detergent manufacturers exploit to get away with the manufacture of toxic products.

You must therefore think deeply about the safety of every laundry detergent you buy.

Purchase biodegradable laundry detergents just to be safe

Although health experts recommend buying fragrant free laundry detergents, be careful.

Not all scent-free detergents are non-toxic. It would help if you just checked out the ingredients of the laundry detergent. If you identify any toxic chemical, consider other options.

All in all, the most recommended safe non-toxic detergent alternatives are biodegradable.

Biodegradable detergents are often plant-based. Thus, they contain little to no chemicals. Even their scents are from natural products.

The bottom line

Health experts advise using a non-toxic detergent for cleaning your laundry. At this moment in time, there are so many laundry detergent options that can pose a danger to your health.

So, always check and evaluate the ingredients used to make a laundry detergent before you purchase it.

Avoid products with Methylisothiazolinone & Benzisothiazolinone. Also, do not buy products that contain Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium Laureth sulfate.

These chemicals are harmful to the skin and lungs. Also, it would be best if you buy fragrant free laundry detergents.